Thriving as a Composer and Musician in the COVID Age

From The Pen Woman, Fall 2020

By Kathy Pate,  Music Editor

As we enter our second year of the COVID-19 era, our economy is struggling to stay viable. Many are still in quarantine, live concerts and entertainment are mostly shut down, and the creative arts are evolving to add a digital presentation format for music performances and art shows. We are having to reinvent ourselves in almost every arena of life.

Some processes in the life of a creative remain constant, such as meditating and journaling to keep our creative juices flowing. Performing our compositions is morphing into a more online venture.

Artists and writers far outnumber music members in many branches of NLAPW, in some cases with only one music member in a branch. Our music members are looking for connectedness with like-minded composers, who face similar issues.

Adrienne Reedy, Greenwich Branch music chair, during a Zoom meeting she hosted for all NLAPW music members.

In the fall of 2020, Adrienne Reedy, music chair for the Greenwich Branch in Connecticut, set up a Zoom meeting for interested NLAPW music members across the United States. Following are some of the comments from attendees at the first two Zoom meetings.

Barb Routen, Tampa Branch, Florida: “It was wonderful to feel such camaraderie in the midst of the pandemic, the interconnectedness and universality of being Pen Women in different parts of the country seeing each other on Zoom, and the support of others who are finding creative ways to deal with the loss of our typical ways of performing, teaching, and collaborating. I learned a lot from everyone and, as Pen Women gatherings always do for me, felt an opening up of my creative energies to find hope and answers to my dilemmas.”

Lee Paine, Greenwich Branch president: “I found it joyful to be talking with other women in different parts of the country about our common interests. It’s the first time that I’ve gotten a sense of how powerful and productive it could be to connect all our members according to our interests. This could totally change the dynamic and future of our smaller branches, if we all feel part of the larger group.”

Grace Reid, District of Columbia Branch: “What I liked was meeting other composers from across the nation. Since I am the only composer in my branch, it was so good to hear and to learn from other Pen Women who also wrote music. The time was way too short. But, I look forward to our next meeting to get to know others better.”

Sheila Firestone, of Boca Raton, Florida: “I am delighted to build a base of female composer friends. I love knowing what we are working on and encouraging one another.”

The Diablo-Alameda Branch recently put together a wonderful multimedia online presentation, titled Peace & Peaceful Activism 2020, which presents art, poetry, and music created by branch members (you can view it at

Mary Fineman, whose songs are featured, participated in some of the tasks associated with producing this show and confirmed that it was a lot of work. However, it is a shining example of what can happen when creative women put their talents together to push the boundaries of our imaginations. Who says that an art show, poetry reading, or musical performance is only possible in a brick-and-mortar setting?

Our two new honorary music members, Judy Collins and Beth Nielsen Chapman, have been using their own websites and social media (including YouTube) to lead the charge in promoting themselves. I see their posts on Facebook almost daily, sharing various past and present performances, interviews, workshops, and upcoming projects.

We are very blessed to be a part of such a fantastic organization as NLAPW. We would like to encourage our members to reach out to share their success stories of how they have negotiated their way around the recent roadblocks to our normal presentation opportunities. This is a great time to network and raise each other up through trying times. What better group to network with than our fellow Pen Women?

Stay well!