Arkells fight COVID-19 social distancing isolation with online music classes

As people look to combat the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, Hamilton's Arkells have been running "flatten the curve" music classes online so fans can practise social distancing and jam out at the same time. 

The next class begins Tuesday afternoon

Since the weekend Hamilton band Arkells have been running daily music classes that have been a hit with fans.

As people look to combat the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, Hamilton's Arkells have been running "flatten the curve" music classes online so fans can practise social distancing and jam out at the same time. 

The band posts chords to their songs across their social media accounts ahead of class time.

Then, lead singer Max Kerman follows up with a tutorial on Instagram live, where his new crop of music students can log on, follow along and ask questions. 

Anthony Carone has also dropped in with keyboard tips and tricks.

"It's a way to ultimately feel engaged and still feel a sense of community in a time where you can't see people face-to-face," Kerman told CBC News.

In naming the sessions, the group has adopted the mantra to flatten the curve that refers to the epidemiological graph of a disease outbreak, which shows if the spread of a disease is slowed, it reduces the peak load on the country's health-care system. 

Since their days are usually packed with creative projects, when the Arkells got word that they should be practising social distancing, Kerman began the search for something productive to take on.

So began their social media songbook to help others stay positive and to spread a little joy through music. 

"I think music allows us a chance to … feel connected to other people," he said. "When you're hearing the stories that you hear through songs, and you're able to relate to them, those are the things that keep me going."

He said one of the most gratifying things the band gets to experience is people playing covers of their songs or asking questions. 

The Arkells have been running daily classes since the weekend, much to the delight of their fans. It also helps that as the music community comes together, the event puts emphasis on the main objective: avoiding in-person interaction, but also avoiding isolation.

Viewers at home are being reminded about how the community can prevail in unprecedented times, with one person tweeting: "These lessons are making me smile when I could really use it."

Kerman said that this feedback and walking through the behind-the-scenes with fans across the world has been the best part of it all. 

Fans have tuned in from across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and even someone from their quarantine in Italy. She's since been tasked with translating the lyrics from Arkells's 11:11 into Italian. 

This chapter is an opportunity for people to learn from each other's experiences and to pick up an instrument that they've been meaning to play, Kerman said.

"What I've been telling Arkells fans is that anything we're doing truly is not rocket science," he said. "Once you learn a G, C, D, E minor, A minor, you are ready to go, and you can learn a lot of your favourite music." 

"There are silver linings to be found throughout all of this, and I think every day I'm learning something new about myself and something new I can bring into the world," he said. "I think it's really important to be mindful of the lessons we can learn right now." 

A tutorial session was held Tuesday afternoon on the Arkells's Instagram account.