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Lives in Isolation: Music man re-learns value of reading with spouse

"It makes me feel really good that I’m able to do something that’s valuable, that’s meaningful," Dunbar says.

Brian Dunbar teaches a virtual lesson with Landon Justice from his home while in isolation from the pandemic. (Contributed by Cindy Dunbar)
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Brian Dunbar is married, in his early 50s and has two grown sons who both live out of state. He operates a music production company from a studio attached to his Rochester home. For him, life hasn’t changed that much.

Some positive experiences are born from the isolation.

"For me, it’s not that different," he says.

He’s still able to do a large part of his work -- music lessons, which are normally in-person, using video-sharing tools on his studio computer.

"The best part of this is, the lessons I teach, we’re still able to have them. Especially the kids I teach. They’ve had almost everything taken away from them -- they can’t do sports, can’t do gymnastics, baseball, all the extra-curriculars -- I’ve had parents thanking me for keeping it going, because it’s all they have left," Dunbar says.


In fact, many kids are having better lessons because they’re practicing more and coming to practice better prepared, he says. And the kids may be getting more out of it, because it’s one activity that they can still do.

"It makes me feel really good that I’m able to do something that’s valuable, that’s meaningful," Dunbar says.

Marriage harmony

Another positive is his relationship with his wife. Like other couples, Dunbar and his wife Cindy are home together more. 

"At first we were driving each other crazy, because we had the news on -- I think we would get into little arguments -- because our anxiety levels were elevated because of what we’d seen on the news," Dunbard says. "We could argue about some ordinary everyday thing and one of us would just go off."

They learned early on that there was something they could do to give them both a greater sense of peace.

"The best thing has been for us to turn off the TV and stay off social media," he says.

He says they were both feeling the stress of the COVID-19 situation, which would create anxiety in each of them.


"So slowing down, reading together, we’re actually reading the same book together. The reading has been so good because we’re not injecting opinions -- we’re reading fiction. Quality time between me and my wife has gone way up," he says.

'We weren't meant to live like this'

But social isolation is hard.

"The toughest part is not being able to just hang out with friends -- like go to a restaurant," he says.

Simple things, like attending weekly church services, are now curtailed.

"We’re used to seeing people every week. We’re doing it online, but it’s not the same thing. We’re social beings," Dunbar says.

The toughest thing, as it is for many, is not physically being with family.

"We found out that one of our boys (who lives in Tennessee) and his wife were going to surprise us with a visit for Easter," he says. Those plans were canceled, "which is very understandable."


Still, it hurts. 

"Everything about it would have been great -- playing games -- we’re musical, so we like to sing together, you name it -- just being together would have been great," Dunbar says.

Yes, the toughest part of social isolation isn’t hard to figure out.

"The toughest part is the actual isolation," he says. "We weren’t meant to live like this."


Related Topics: MUSIC
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