Sometimes music is the best remedy to all life’s problems, those tuneful chords potent at clearing heads, healing hearts and lifting spirits.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, classical musician, Sarah Anne Bush, has been providing a weekly dose of melodic medicine with virtual performances and doorstep recitals to harness the healing power she knows all too well that music can bring.
When lockdown was imposed and the performing arts industry closed for the foreseeable future, self-employed musician Sarah, who plays violin, piano and is a grade eight musical theatre singer, lost all income and exposure from the many spring and summer events she was due to perform at.
Music is in her blood – quite literally as she comes from a family of musicians. So, losing the chance to play and perform to live audiences felt like taking a lifeline away from her. She was first taught to play piano by her grandmother and has excelled musically ever since, going on to graduate from Huddersfield University with a degree in music performance.
She knew that in isolation, music was more vital to our cultural fabric than ever before. When her mum was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a couple of years ago, Sarah used music to express her own feelings by writing original and emotive songs.
But making music collaboratively had never been more challenging with social distancing rules in place, live venues empty and the stage curtains firmly shut.
So, 23-year-old Sarah decided to use these enforced circumstances to her advantage. She has since launched her own music tuition business, shared her talents with others online and in the community, and raised spirits through uncertain times by keeping the music alive.
From the front lawn of the family’s Swinton home, Sarah brought her neighbours together with weekly performances to coincide with the Thursday ‘Clap for our Carers.’ She spent eight weeks performing to the street come rain or shine, lighting up the street with her DIY LED electric violin. Each week there was a different theme, from ’80s hits to songs from musicals.
She also teamed up with her family members, neighbours, and other young musicians for special group performances to celebrate the likes of VE Day and Yorkshire Day. Her mum plays piano and guitar and her younger sister Kathryn plays cello and saxophone.
In turn, this led to taking the performances online, with Sarah doing virtual rehearsals and social media streaming for the different organisations and ensembles she is involved in.
Last year she founded the Waterloo Quartet, made up of four local string musicians – Jade Jennison on violin, Kirin Howat on viola and Eleanor Beever who plays cello. Sarah has also been involved in the Rotherham Music Service and is the current chair of Rotherham Symphony Orchestra which was launched in 2017 and now has around 60 members aged 16 to 80.
With such varied experience, Sarah decided to inspire other young people with her love of music by becoming a music tutor and now has students as young as five. Although she now teaches piano, singing and music theory, Sarah is also still taking music lessons to achieve her diplomas, is teaching herself to play the oboe and clarinet her grandfather bequeathed her, and is learning sign language to accommodate different needs.
Usually, whatever little spare time Sarah has she gives to good causes and is a regular performer at local care homes and children’s hospices. She also volunteers at Doncaster and Montagu hospitals and can be found playing the piano in the cafes.
When her mum was diagnosed with cancer, Sarah became heavily involved with Rotherham’s Macmillan volunteers and organised a musical extravaganza at Wath Tesco last Christmas which raised over £1,100 for the charity. As with all charities, Macmillan’s community fundraising efforts have been affected due to Covid but Sarah has still been undertaking challenges to try and give back to the charity which supported her family through darker days.