Drumming to her own beat: learning new skills in self-isolation

Norbert Poitras didn’t want to wear the mask.

He and his wife, Jennifer Hunt Poitras, had been cooped up in their Yellowknife home since mid-March. A recent trip to the drugstore meant going out into the new world of physical distancing.

“I wanted him to wear a mask,” Jennifer said. “He got mad at me because he didn’t want to wear the mask and we started yelling at each other in the car.

“He wore the mask.”

The parking lot tussle turned into a learning opportunity. 

As Canadians across the country find themselves stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, some are taking up new skills, from baking to learning a new language. But many are also struggling with a lack of routine and heightened anxiety, a recipe for disaster for some relationships.

“I was very aware the next day when I thought about it,” Jennifer said.

“If this is the long haul and we’re going to be together a lot, we need to be aware of how we talk to each other and how we react to each other. It’s more important now than ever before that we maintain that relationship and be respectful of each other because we’re together all the time.”

Or as her husband puts it, “a hundred hours a day.”

Turns to YouTube, learns the drums

Norbert is a former CBC host of Trails End and a member of North Country Rock, and when his wife saw him trying to figure out how to hold virtual jam sessions with his bandmates, that’s when it dawned on her. She had always wanted to learn the drums and thought maybe she could play with him.

“I’ve always been so jealous of how much fun they have,” Jennifer said, so she decided to pick up the sticks and teach herself the instrument.

Norbert tried to teach her, “but I guess she had no patience with my lesson,” he said.

So she turned to YouTube, and a lesson later, she’s now posting videos of her own on Facebook where she’s received some positive feedback.

Watch Jennifer Hunt Poitras play the drums:

Jennifer Hunt Poitras at home in Yellowknife, where she’s learning how to play the drums. 0:32

Lovers in a dangerous time 

Jennifer describes herself as an introvert and has embraced the time together with her husband.

“This time has almost been therapeutic,” she said.

Norbert is very much the opposite, an extrovert who is learning to cope with the new reality of missing playing with his band.   

“I feel like I’m getting a little more patient,” he said.

The two haven’t had the chance to play together — yet. But they have plenty of opportunity to.

“I feel like our relationship as husband and wife is only going to get deeper or more connected or bonded in a different way,” she said.

“But you have to be conscious of how you treat each other.”  

Norbert Poitras and Jennifer Hunt Poitras without masks. (Submitted by Norbert Poitras)

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