Harris Institute has operated for 31 years now, and graduates have embedded themselves in all pockets of the music industry. We asked founder and academy president John Harris how the lockdown has affected the school and its students. What follows is his response to a short series of questions.
We're almost 2 months into quarantine, has this had a financially deleterious effect on the academy?
JH: Harris Institute was fortunately on a break between terms when the shutdown was announced.
And the students?
JH: We are waiting till the coast is clear to reopen. All other schools are now dealing with the considerable challenges of completing courses, exams, etc. online. Our graduates are unaffected, as they had all completed their programs.
Students seem to be dealing with the delay quite well. Our international students, who had returned home for the break, will now be subject to the 2-week quarantine when they return and it’s possible some may not be able to return.
Have you adapted to online courses?
JH: We have been doing certain courses online for the last 15 years when there was no other option. However, most of our courses do not translate well to the online environment.
Have you or will you apply for any federal help to assist you in keeping staff on the payroll and are you able to offer any online courses?
JH: I have not laid off any staff and am applying to the federal government’s wage subsidy program. Whoever came up with that idea should get a bonus. Without it, they would have had the nightmare of processing millions of unemployment claims. Yikes.
How are you keeping your spirits alive these days and what’s top of the pops in listening at home?
JH: I’m not usually drawn to nostalgia, but I’ve been listening to a lot of the music I loved in the ’70s and ’80s and that has been fun. I’m also getting things done that have been on the back burner for some time.
After the regulations relax?
JH: I fully expect there will be a significant increase in the camaraderie between students, faculty and staff when the dust settles. We will have a far greater appreciation of things we all took for granted.