Alumnus relies on online music practices with others to counter the isolation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Musician Mike Noordzy has built a thriving career as a bassist performing with several ensembles and as a composer and recording artist. But COVID-19 and the closing of nonessential businesses in New Jersey and elsewhere hit him hard. His bread and butter—gigs at restaurants and bars around the state—disappeared. “I pretty much lost 90 percent of my work,” says Noordzy MGSA’07,’14.
It’s a situation confronting musicians nationwide whose careers rely on a steady gig economy. Noordzy wanted to somehow help musicians continue to make music together. He created “The Walking Bass Hour,” a live one-man rhythm section that streams daily on Facebook and Instagram and helps soften the impact of social distancing.
Each morning, Noordzy has been posting on his social media pages six jazz songs he’ll be playing that day; at 1 p.m., he starts playing the bass accompaniment to them. Musicians anywhere can play along with him live on social media or jam with the video of the session later. Noordzy’s song choices reflect his aim to make the session accessible and enjoyable for musicians, regardless of their talent. “I try to pick some obvious classics, ones that get played at every jam session, as well as a couple of songs that are off the beaten path,” he says.
He’s happy to provide an opportunity for other musicians to keep playing during this difficult time. “You can practice by yourself all you want, but this kind of music truly benefits from playing with someone else,” Noordzy says.
Noordzy hopes that his effort is helpful to musicians; he knows it’s helped him. “It’s been great for me to have something that’s regular every day,” he says. “I have to pick songs and be ready to play them. It’s good to have that consistency.”
Music, he says, helps people get through tough times. “It’s important to do something that makes the day go by a little easier or gives you something to think about that’s not the current situation—even if it’s just for an hour.”