Emerald Messenger

We asked local 3MDR radio presenter, musician and teacher Jules Vines how she has been travelling through this difficult time when every aspect of her life and livelihood has been, like so many, turned upside down. Here’s a glimpse of how Jules has turned lemons into lemonade.

How has coronavirus affected your role as a radio producer and musician?

Bhwahaha! You’re possibly asking one of the most technically challenged IT people in town, so yes, the coronavirus has made it really challenging for me both personally and professionally in every aspect of how I think and work as a musician, music teacher and radio presenter. However no time like the present to ‘upskill’ right?

Producing remote shows for Classically Saturday on community station 3MDR 97.1FM, has been very time consuming. In the first few weeks I wondered if I should just put it all down and forget it for a few weeks or months but each week the show has improved in sound quality and the time management has now been streamlined with the help of business sponsor Keynote Controls. We have a unique space to showcase artists and their music and with so many of our Aussie musicians suffering and having literally lost their livelihoods overnight, it really feels important to volunteer in this space more than ever.

One of the benefits though has been listening back on Saturday morning and watching interviewees and listeners engage in real time over Facebook comments. That’s really enjoyable to see. The audience has become visible and it feels a little more socially connected to be in the same ‘virtual room’ from 9-11am. There are listeners from all over the world and it’s fun to see the conversation take off.

As a musician in Liminality Celtic Trio, Cath (harpist), Greg (violinist) and I (keyboard/vocals) like everyone else, lost all our planned gigs for the foreseeable future. We are just now getting our heads around a couple of virtual concerts and have organised two dates in the coming months which we are excited about. One of them is a Bushfire Relief Concert based in Sale. It will be terrific to be playing together again and great to know we can still use our music to assist the wider community, as some folks are doing it really tough with the added economic knock-on effects of Covid 19.

What positives, if any, have you found coming out of the challenges you’ve faced in lockdown?

I’m grateful for our family’s resourcefulness and ability to dig deep to find ways to work together and grow something new in a very testing time. With supervision required for young teenagers, I couldn’t easily just ‘get another job’ so we’ve been focusing on growing a sideline business called Macadamia Rocky Road, in a relatively short space of time. It’s selling well and it’s gratifying knowing I can create something in the kitchen which provides a small income stream yet still allows me to be available to the kids who are schooling at home while Dad is locked in business meetings, in the makeshift bedroom/office.

The radio of course fits in around that and in an open plan house it’s not the easiest timetable to manage but it’s definitely a positive, learning new ways to do ‘business.’ Macadamia Rocky Road has been enjoying some local popularity with an original recipe for many years now. It’s a handcrafted deluxe quality ingredient confectionary and initially proceeds went to a fundraiser for my daughter’s environmental interest in The Orangutan Project. But in the past couple of months we’ve diversified and developed delicious new recipes and now two local Melbourne florists are stocking the product and taking consistent orders. ‘Bam Bam Italian’ in Avonsleigh has also been brilliantly supportive, selling the product through their online store. We would love to grow the business further and will have to pursue some scaling-up advice if that happens but local people have been super supportive in this immediate time, so that has been a lovely thing to experience.

What have been the worst parts of being in lockdown for you personally?

Emotional struggles, meltdowns, stress, fear and social distancing. We have all experienced these emotive states, during Covid 19 lockdown (and pre Covid too) but perhaps we’ve never felt them quite so intensely. The other part of lockdown which has been difficult is knowing others are grieving for loved ones. Family members may have died, be very ill or simply having a really bad day and you know they (or you) could use a hug but human touch is not only out of the question, it’s dangerous even to step near. There are many of us, and I’m one, who are tactile but susceptible to chest infections. In joy and sorrow, a hug or empathic touch can mean so much. Social distancing goes against everything that inherently makes us connect or express our most fundamental selves in times of crisis.

What would you keep from this time?

I’d like to keep my sanity but no guarantees there really – sanity is a day to day thing! Seriously though, I would keep the ‘otherness’ and ‘understanding’ that we’ve shown each other as a community and as individuals checking in on each other. I think many of us have thought more widely about humans, nature and all the things that interact to make us appreciate this wonderful life we have. Celebrate the planet, nature and all things living. Keep and grow empathy, compassion and mindfulness. Life is short and precious. Little things – which are really big things – make all the difference.


Categories: June 2020