Isolating Without Isolation: Vince Brown Offers Music Lessons From Home

By Aigner Loren Wilson

Now is a time of community. Of outreach and support. Thousands in Thurston County have lost hours, jobs, gigs and money due to COVID-19. In our bones is the feeling of wanting to connect with our larger community, to offer support — or receive some.

We are all doing our past not to spread the virus, and to stay in-doors so not to occur any unnecessary injuries that will overweigh our healthcare system while those workers are trying to help those who need it most right now. Everywhere we look, we’re finding ways that people are trying to connect while social distancing. From people in Italy singing to one another, balcony to balcony — isolation to isolation — so they can remind each other “yes, we are still here, and we will sing through this together.” Check social media live feeds, and one will find people posting live videos of themselves cooking, playing instruments, cleaning, reading, trying to connect with the other person out there who is in the same isolated, and possibly scared, state they are in.  

There’s a palatable feeling in the air that we as people not only want, but need connection, need art, while we walk blindly into a future that is uncertain. Not everyone has been financially affected by COVID-19, but we’ve all been affected by the shutdown of schools, restaurants, concert venues and other entertainment outlets.

In a town like Olympia, shutting down all those things has people crawling the walls for things to do and ways to make money now that a major revenue source has completely halted. Local musician and instructor Vince Brown reached out to OLY ARTS with a great idea for ways people can support the arts and the artists who make it while stuck indoors.

Brown says, “Most every highly skilled touring and performing musicians I know is sitting at home in their practice room, instrument in hand trying to figure out how to make ends meet.” His idea for them and for everyone else out there wrestling with themselves about what they should be doing during this time is simple, but powerful.

Brown, and many other creatives like him, are offering their fans and supporters lessons from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Through Skype, Zoom, or a number of other video chat platforms, artists who are out of gigs can host free or paid instructions for people out there stuck at home with enough time to learn how to play that instrument they bought at Goodwill years ago. Brown goes on to say, “If there is a player you admire and you think they might have something to teach you, I highly encourage you to reach out to them and ask if they are giving lessons.” This is already happening in major ways with bands and performers posting music for free due to their concerts or events being canceled.

There’s a lot of people out there now with nothing but time and space on their hands. Some choose to take this time to rest and take care of themselves, but there are a few out there who want to use this time to learn something while taking time away from the normal pull and drag of life.

According to Brown, there’s no better person to turn to than a creative. “As [creatives],” he says, “most of us have learned the value of time alone engaging in very focused study. And as musicians we also know that discipline and repetition are necessary components of any successful practice.”

Brown is offering his services to the community while he’s home practicing safe social distancing. A lot of his gigs have been cancelled due to the current shutdown and restriction against concerts and other musical venues holding events.

“I am a full-time jazz guitarist who has managed to make ends meet playing gigs in and around Olympia for the past 15 years,” Brown says. “I find myself having to switch gears and look to lessons as my sole source of income – at least for the next couple months.”

For those who are looking to learn or brush up on beginning to advanced guitar theory, then Vince is available Tuesday – Friday to book private lessons. He is an instructor in old time banjo, ukulele, and performance.


Virtual music lessons with Vince Brown


11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday – Friday


Your home


Prices vary


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