Isolation Drills: Laura Lizcano

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Lizcano: COVID-19 totally changed my artistic life. First of all, it totally halted my album. We were supposed to release Heart in May, and now here we are finally putting it out into the world. I wasn’t sure if it was a good time to release or if I should hold on to it. I took comfort in the fact that everyone else was in the same boat, and as time went on, it became clear that it was time to release. I’m very, very excited for it to be out in the world.

I also teach a lot of private lessons, and I work as a teaching artist for the Kimmel Center, World Cafe Live and Carnegie Hall. When the pandemic first hit, most of this work disappeared, and I was terrified because that’s how I made most of my money. Thankfully, all the projects that I do for these organizations are now taking place over Zoom. It’s lovely and terrible all at the same time! I’m so grateful to be able to connect with people, even during these isolating times, and to make music with them.

But just like everyone else, I’m experiencing the Zoom fatigue, and I sometimes run out of ideas on how to make group music-making happen over these platforms. Still, it feels like a new color palette or a new canvas to work with, so I’m also having a lot of fun exploring possibilities.

I’ve also had a lot of time to do creative things that aren’t music. I write poetry, and I make collages. This has been so liberating, because it gives me the ability to just follow my intuition and have fun making art. I was really missing this in pre-COVID times.

We can get so serious about our art, and we forget to have fun. I’m excited to be getting in touch with the more fun side of my creative self, and I’m excited to bring that to my music practice.

I’ve also had the opportunity to perform virtually. This is amazing and strange! With some attention being drawn toward our social fabric, it has been nice to see organizations try to bring performers from the diverse backgrounds in their programming. I was asked to be part of the WAWA Welcome America Festival, and I must admit I would’ve never thought that I would be part of a 4th Of July celebration. I’m hopeful that this will continue, and that we won’t get distracted from the very necessity of giving performers from all backgrounds opportunities to play in all kinds of settings.

While things may seem like a total dumpster fire in the world, I’m also hopeful that things are changing. The unknown can be quite terrifying, but it can also be an opportunity for us to create a more equitable industry and build a more inclusive community.