Falkirk pianist moves from Chopin and Mozart to Crazy Frog and Star Wars to entertain during lockdown

A top notch classical concert pianist dressed in a frog onesie and playing a 2005 novelty dance hit –welcome to the world of Fiona and the COVIDs.

By James Trimble
Monday, 18th May 2020, 11:23 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 11:24 am

Falkirk mum Fiona Hobson has been taking good care of her family – husband Russell and daughter Elise (9) – ever since she found herself temporarily out of a job due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

However, she has also been staying busy with her musical endeavours as people can see from her video rendition of Crazy Frog’s Axel F.

Fiona said: “It’s a very simple tune – I watched the video a few times and just came up with the arrangement.”

Falkirk pianist Fiona Hobson with her group Fiona and the COVIDs

Just a few weeks earlier Fiona had been working as a chef for Inception Catering based at The Peak sports centre in Stirling.

When the lockdown came along Fiona suddenly had a lot of time on her hands.

“I had hoped we would be able to divert our operations to ready meals and takeaway food, but we were not able to be given access to our kitchens while the centre is closed.

“I was devastated, not so much because of the financial implications, but because I am quite dependant on it for my mental well-being. Some people may be glad not to go to work, but when lockdown began I missed my colleagues terribly.”

However, if it had not been for that bad situation Fiona and the COVIDs might not have been born.

Fiona said: “On the first day of lockdown I made a video of me playing We'll Meet Again on the piano and posted it on my work Whatsapp group. It prompted quite a bit of chat and banter amongst the group, which was great.

“So I did another the next day, and the next. What started out as just a bit of fun with my colleagues, as a means of keeping our communications and spirits up, has just grown from there.

“Some of my colleagues knew I could play piano. What they didn't realize was that I actually used to be a world-class concert pianist. I quickly realised I couldn't just rely on my stock classical repertoire – boring for many – so I had to step out of my comfort zone.

“We joked in our work chat about who could do what – in our imaginary band, and over the following weeks my piano became surrounded by toys and puppets representing my colleagues.

“I commandeered from my daughter's toybox, to form the band, now known as Fiona And The Covids. I’ve done everything from popular classics by the likes of Mozart and Chopin, to a bonkers rendition of Axel F Crazy Frog, with me dressed as a frog and utilising many homemade props.

“On May the 4th of course it was an epic arrangement of Star Wars, dressed as Princess Leia – hairdo comprised of earmuffs wrapped in brown tights – and featuring remote controlled R2D2 and BB8.

“One of the songs I put on video was actually something I played at a person’s funeral. He had been a huge fan of westerns so they wanted me to play the theme of The Magnificent Seven.

“So I did a video on that and combined it with other famous western themes The Big Country and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

“It may or may not be apparent, but my silly wee videos actually take quite a lot of thought, preparation, and a ridiculous amount of time and patience to record.

“I enjoy doing it, it can be quite challenging, I need to focus, and when it all comes together I get a great buzz. That seems very self indulgent, but if this keeps my mind healthy then that is time well spent.

“I still take good care of my family, home and my daughter's schooling. The videos are just something I’ve been doing to help me deal with things day to day.”

And the videos are having a positive effect on the people who watch them.

Fiona said: “Although I’m not helping people by making face masks or anything like that, I’m doing something which is good for me and it seems to be giving people something to look forward to.”

As well as her many imaginative videos – which include a medley of James Bond tunes, a Star Wars themed epic, a Baby Shark birthday tribute and lots more –Fiona has been playing live outside her house in Majors Loan for the Clap for Carers nights and the recent VE Day celebrations.

“After taking my piano out last Thursday I got lots of great feedback, so I decided on the VE Day celebrations on Friday not just to play We'll Meet Again but to play a few other tunes too and make a bit more of an evening of it.

“The atmosphere in the street was incredible. You can't see it from the video, but the whole street and gardens were lined with people, laughing, cheering, crying, dancing.

“I'm so glad I did it, even if the playing was a bit slapdash, it just felt really good to see people enjoying themselves and the police drove by and gave it the thumbs up, as everyone was well spread out.”

One of the people Fiona shared her videos with actually came to her house and thanked for her performance.

Fiona said: “I've also honoured two requests for people who had a loved one infected with COVID-19, both of whom have sadly passed away. When I do the videos I feel like I’m sharing with people.

“It's just something I know I can do really well and I want to share it with people.”