Music

Daily jam sessions of Quarantined Quartet, a New York-based family of guitarists, have fans world wide

(From left) Joseph, Jason, Elysa and Noah Hochman   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

It is Day 489. ‘Brasilierinho’ by Waldir Azevedo fills the room as dulcet guitar tunes make way for more elements, in a mini concert.

Eleven-year-old Joseph holds his guitar vertically over his head, in a pose he calls ‘the peekaboo’, as his fingers dextrously pick the strings. His brother, 10-year-old Noah, wears a sombre expression as he blends into the melody. Their parents, guitarist duo Jason and Elysa Hochman are in the backdrop, expertly guiding them along with their own sets. Quarantined Quartet is in action.

Born out of the pandemic, the daily jam sessions by this talented New York-based family have been shared widely on social media. Fans include actor Pierce Brosnan.

It all started on March 22, 2020 when the first video of them playing together went up on Instagram, with the label ‘#QuarantinedQuartet practice day 1’.

Says Jason over a Zoom call from Manhattan, “On March 13, 2020, we had to close down our Manhattan studio from where Elysa and I run our academy (New York Guitar Academy). Joseph and Noah also had to shift to remote learning around the time.”

Elysa adds, “We realised that we are all going to be together and wanted to do something we otherwise wouldn’t have, owing to our busy schedules.”

The daily snippets of performance have been nothing short of a learning experience for the Hochmans. Joseph says, “I have gotten better at playing with my family. We used to have only two songs we could play together, and those weren’t that good,” he chuckles, adding, “Now, we are tighter together as a quartet.” The 11-year-old has, over the days, developed signature moves, like the ‘peekaboo’.

What do these sessions mean to them as a family? Before the pandemic, there have been weekends where Jason and Elysa would not even meet the children. Now, they get to make music together. “When we started, the children were 10 and eight. Our Instagram page is really a journal of growth when we look back,” says Jason. Moreover, their confidence as performers has increased a lot, Elysa quips in.

The focus is not on learning new songs everyday, but on sharing their journey and progression as a team, through these sessions. And for that, they have a roster of 35 to 40 songs they choose from.

Their go-to song is ‘Las Olas’, says Noah. “It is a song that we created during quarantine. It is also one of our most popular ones,” adds Joseph. The fast-paced flamenco number reminds one of waves, as the title suggests.

Composing new songs is a team effort. Each of them contribute a part to the song. Noah says, “When I write, I think of the sounds that I want to create. And sometimes, the songs we make as a quartet inspire me to write.” Joseph too, has been writing a song of his own for the past month.

Who picks the song for each day, though? Jason pans the camera to a white board with a list of songs. Noah picks up a dart, aims at the board and shoots it across. This is how they choose.

For this interview, the dart has landed on ‘When in Rome’, a piece composed by Jason — and a crowd favourite too. The family picks up their guitars, adjusts their Zoom camera, and plays the flamenco-inspired foot-tapping tune that invites one to groove along.

At the time of going to press, they are on day 493. And far from done. “We are going to keep doing this as long as we are together,” says Jason.

Visit @quarantined_quartet on Instagram


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:51:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/interview-with-the-quarantined-quartet-a-family-of-guitarists/article35580024.ece

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