On a sunny afternoon, Bill Gliddon gestures to songbooks placed on the choir benches at St. George’s Anglican Church in Haliburton.

“Before the pandemic, we had a big choir,” he said.

Now, five or six usually help lead parishioners in worship with Gliddon at the front of the church. Their first choir meeting since before Christmas was in late February.

“Of course, we couldn’t sing anything terribly complicated, I had to simplify all the music.”

He added, “I’m very fortunate the people I’ve had in the choir are pretty good at site-reading: they’re pretty good singers.”

Gliddon is entering his 60th year as St. George’s organist. The pandemic, he said, has been unlike any previous time in his career.

It disrupted his ability to play for his church and sing with others.

“I had to really think about that, and realize that you just have to live with it and hold on. It won’t be forever,” he said.

Gliddon used to enjoy touring seniors’ residences and singing to residents. COVID-19 forced him to get creative.

“There were a few residents with phones in their rooms. I’d set my keyboard by my phone and then sing some songs they loved. They loved it,” Gliddon said.

He’d send them phoned-in versions of tunes like “The band plays on” and “My wild Irish rose.”

Through the pandemic, Gliddon worked with former priest Ken McLure on a musical of the bible story David and Goliath. “It was a real challenge but it was good,” Gliddon said. Gliddon helped compose the music. Could it be performed post-pandemic? “It’s possible,” he said, though Rev. McLure’s move means that’s unlikely.

Gliddon said the decreased musical workload might have improved his Sunday night classical music program on CanoeFM. “I thought they were a little better than before when I was so rushed with other things.”

Gliddon said his favourite song “is the one [he’s] playing.” He approaches each arrangement with care. It’s a joyful experience.

“It’s always been important. But I’ve gotten more time to indulge in it [during the pandemic]. I don’t know what I’d have done without music in COVID,” he said.

It’s a spiritual experience too. “Music is an expression of your feeling, that goes a little further than words,” he said. “If you put two and two together it’s a good combination.”