The joyful sounds of music are again made possible, thanks to masks


Personal freedom is a phrase you hear everywhere these days, and I embrace it as my philosophy of life.

What gives me the most personal freedom to do what I want: singing and playing with others? A mask. I have so many that they could be my 2021 fashion statement.

The basis of mask wearing begins with vaccination. The vaccine takes care of your bowels and trains them to resist invading viruses. And for our exteriors, we have masks, glorious masks.

After a year and a half without Chamber Singers of Iowa City, one of my activities for over 40 years, the pleasure of singing together is unprecedented. Our manager, David Puderbaugh, leads us inside as we move away from each other, all vaccinated and all wearing singer masks.

In profile, the singers look like Daffy Duck because the mask is designed to breathe air, not matter. It takes a little getting used to, but you can hear all the other parts and your own voice is louder for you. We also clean the room every 50 minutes to allow for air exchange.

No one stays away because they don’t feel safe. The feeling in the room is kindness and mutual respect. It is freedom for all.

We are rehearsing for two performances of the Messiah with Orchestra Iowa conducted by Tim Hankewich on November 20 and 21. I love this Corridor connection. One representation is in Cedar Rapids, one in Iowa City.

And then there’s New Horizons Band. We meet in the gym at the downtown Robert A. Lee Recreation Center. Because we are in a city building, we are completely spaced out and masked; even our instruments are masked.

From homemade creativity to store-bought flute masks, everyone enjoys playing together thanks to the freedom to mask themselves. Several people weren’t going to rehearse in person and would zoom in on the rehearsals, but when they saw the immense space and 100% vax and mask compliance, they all felt safe to be physically together.

And sound certainly fills this gym. I feel like I’m part of the support group at a high school basketball game and my team is winning. We look forward to a concert with the Iowa City Community Band on December 12th at England.

Trumpeter Bob Hansen has a great mask that he bought online. He has a zipper where his mouth is and he even has a small smile.

Martin Hill’s bassoon reed disappears in his large black mask and he also has a sock over the hole at the top of his instrument. It reminds me of a hoodoo.

Nancy Wombacher still has a matching euphonium mask and cap that she makes herself.

Kay Schneider models the flute mask while rehearsing with the New Horizons Band in Iowa City.

Masks give us the freedom to sing and play together, keeping us reasonably safe while respecting the safety of others. This is how we operate in a community of caring individuals. The music will tell of our joy.

Joyce Marner sings viola in Chamber Singers of Iowa City and plays flute in New Horizons Band.

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