Friday, June 18, 2021

Lessons from COVID, Part 2: Get a Hobby

I swear this is the last post touching on my (much better) mental health, but it also has some tech tips within, so I thought it was worth sharing. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was much ado about "using this time for self-improvement" before that message had a backlash against it. Regardless, as an adult it can be difficult to feel justified trying new pastimes, though it sure helped me.

My husband and I were always karaoke people, so that piece wasn't new. We'd spend many Sunday nights singing down the "scaries" with one or two at a local place that had karaoke starting at 8pm. He's a real singer, gets paid for it at a CT church monthly; I just dabble and know some stuff to make myself sound better given the SLP training. When the shutdown happened, of course no karaoke. Singing was bad, COVID-wise. We started a habit of recording a weekly song and sharing it to friends and family via YouTube and Facebook. It was a good thing to spend time preparing for and looking forward to recording and releasing it. I learned a couple tech tricks along the way.

Karaoke Version is a great website that lets you purchase individual song tracks, and you can choose ones with no background vocals. This allowed us to turn many solo songs into duets. He taught me years ago how to change keys of songs, which greatly increases the options for any singer (e.g. I can sing a female song down one octave and up two steps to take me out of the basement, or lower a male pop song a couple steps). For this, two tools helped a lot. AirDrop (accessed on any Mac or Apple Device through the share icon) popped the song right over to my phone without need for syncing (takes forever) and into an app like AudioScrub Remix Edition ($2.99). This app allows you to change keys and even play with tempo of music, so is also good for playing with the key of original song tracks so you feel more confident singing them out there (if the place you go allows key changes, some don't). From there it was pretty easy to play any song in my car--I even drove sometimes-- and we'd set his iPhone up on a holder to record. There's truly an app for everything, and they sure can support your hobbies. 


I hope it will be enjoyable to some and not too self-indulgent to share our playlist. We sang 52 songs- every week for a pandemic year- and then have slowed it down to every couple weeks, maybe once a month. It was a lot of work. And we are back to going out and singing karaoke. The list took us through themes and some tough times...like unrest in our city ("Beautiful City" from Godspell) and when a friend passed away suddenly ("What I Did for Love" from Chorus Line, one of his favorites), but is mostly lighthearted and meant to entertain...we learned some weeks in to avoid the heavy. There's lots of Yacht Rock, and more experiments with falsetto than I should have attempted. And I have to say all the practicing and singing was also therapeutic- something about that diaphragmatic breathing. Definitely watch the 2nd version of "Happy Days/Get Happy" as it is better shot and well, happier than the first! My faves are the recent ones, like "Drive." (Click on the link above or upper right menu in the video embedded below to see the list of songs)


The other thing I've gotten into is coloring and, later, drawing. Learning about shading was another way YouTube came in handy, and I'm taking some online classes and learning about drawing with an Apple Pencil on my iPad. Surely a relaxing hobby! If anyone has any good online resources about this, please let me know!

I hope you are easing into summer and finding happy ways to spend your time!

1 comment:

  1. This is something very important and useful topic to discuss. Great article.

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