by Joanne Roberts
It’s five minutes away from being 2:30am, May 1st. Month two of quarantine is officially over, and for some reason I’m up at this hour reflecting on it. My last article already seems to be in a different tone than this one. Last month was filled with new experiences and new challenges, creative fixes and inspiring enthusiasm. As this last month evolved and the weeks passed, my mind kept begging the question; can this online work model be viable in the long term of this pandemic?
There is so much uncertainty weighing on entrepreneurs, small business owners, and self-employed workers. I’m wondering about next week. Next month. The future of my business and asking myself if I should just cut my losses now and find myself a steady job that pays. (You know, while everyone is struggling with. Yep.) All of this thinking is enough to make me lose sleep, and a lot of it. I spend hours wondering where this all leads. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to keep a good 65% of my clients, but will that be enough? Each month that goes by, I know that all go into another period of financial uncertainty. What will it mean for my clients next month? What will it mean for all of us when this is over? Will people still want private music lessons, or will attention and funds be diverted somewhere else? These questions linger in my mind, and will continue to do so until I get the answers that right now, no one can predict.
In terms of classes, they’re still going well. My students and I have adjusted to each others’ unique situations. We account for pets, for interruptions, for technology issues, and we seem to be rolling with the punches with ease. Every week I get updates as to how they’re coping with social distancing, what they do to fill their time and exciting things that happened to them since our last lesson. These check-ins don’t differ too much from the regular chatter I always start off each session with, but the content has drastically changed for some. I can’t say it’s for the worse or for the better, but I can say that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances presented to us.
I do have to quickly note, in a surprising twist of events, there were a couple weeks this month where clients left and right had completely forgotten about lessons. I would be sitting on one end of an unanswered FaceTime call, and inevitably a few hours after our scheduled lesson, I would get an apology text about how lessons had completely slipped their mind. This happened to an entire night of classes this month - the odds of that happening during in-studio lessons is very slim to none. It’s never happened to me before. I’m curious to see how this continues the next month, now that we’ve settled into our pandemic routines.
Phase One of reopening our province begins on Monday, so over the course of the weekend I have a lot to think about. I have the chance to open up my studio again, but is that a decision I should make? I’d been fretting about it since Wednesday, and I’ve had a few days without classes to try and clear my mind. If I don’t open on Monday, when will I? Phase Two? Phase Three?
What I’ve remembered at this late hour (3:28am to be exact) is that my clients and I tackled the challenges of this pandemic together. Maybe that means we should face this next step together, too. We have the luxury of communication, something that no one is taking for granted anymore. Social distancing and self isolation makes me feel very much alone, but we have great resources at our disposal that allows us to communicate from afar. I can talk to my clients openly and honestly as I always have. A pandemic can change our situation, but not our relationship. So I think over the course of the next week, I’ll be pulling on all my resources and using my experience to discuss solutions that best suit my clients needs, and mine.
Bon courage, mes amis. Sincerely, a very sleepy Joanne.
Joanne Roberts is a multilingual Canadian actress best known for originating the role of Janelle in the Evie nominated co-production of Que faire d'Albert/What To Do With Albert. She is also a producer for Joie de Survivre, and is a co-founder for the Winnipeg theatre company, Wonderful and Meatballs.