Making Music in the time of Covid-19

I’m writing to you today from self-isolation land.
This is a time that we will never forget. And I have been thinking about strategies to get through this and I’d like to share some ideas to help us through this time of isolation. I’d also like to share with you my own personal journey. I hope you’re all doing ok out there.

This is a defining moment in our society. And though it seems like it will last forever, it won’t. Someday we’ll go back to life, some version of it. We’ll be able to gather with friends and go to work.

Someday we’ll be able to let our kids play together and hug our moms.
Someday going out into the world won’t be a scary thing full of hidden dangers and constant threats of infection.

But for now our only course of action is to do as we’re told, to trust that we are moving in the right direction.

Coming from a very small place that is always isolated on some level, it is not hard to see the benefits of our self isolation. Prince Edward Island, fingers crossed, has so far missed out on the worst of the virus. So far no deaths, no massive infection rate. It is due to our government, especially Dr. Heather Morrison, and to all the people behind the scenes keeping things calm and sending clear directions for us.

Hello from self-isolation land.
Hello from Prince Edward Island

Inside my house, there is a rollercoaster of emotions. My daughter is home without her friends but keeping up with everyone and her school work thanks to the magic of the internet. My partner Mark is working from home (though that is about to end) and I am writing and creating and going for walks. I am also spending days looking out at the field, not able to accomplish one single goal. Recently I spent an entire day crying.
I am up and down and sideways.
And there is a sense of grief that hits me from time to time. Every time a gig gets canceled further and further into the future. Every time a tour is canceled.

Meanwhile, there is also a sense of joy and gratitude. Playing live concerts so far has been heartwarming. There is a similarity to an actual show – I feel you out there responding and listening. That keeps me going.
I’m also finding time to do things that I always wish I had time for – cooking, baking (gawd, the baking!), sewing, planting seeds (literal and metaphorical), tending to the house with a love I don’t usually have time for. And did you know you can regrow kitchen scraps? I’ve been regrowing green onions, romaine lettuce, basil from cuttings… these are thrifty times. A throwback to the post-war generation.

And somewhere, in all that, I also found time to write and record with my dear friend Tara MacLean. We wrote This Storm in reaction to feeling so far from our loved ones, as a way to curb the fear and take care of our hearts. We made a video that is a collection of video hugs and kisses and sentiments of love from PEI to the world. A thank you to our frontline and essential workers.
The response to that song has been incredible, and the stories coming back to us have been heartbreaking and heartwarming and real.

(Thank you for watching and sharing.)

Listen to This Storm, a song born out of self-isolation and longing
Listen now to THIS STORM by Tara MacLean and Catherine MacLellan

With the tragedy in Nova Scotia on Monday we need more love than ever. We need to look out for one another. Could we to stop criticizing people and start making generous assumptions? If you see someone visiting someone at their house – perhaps they needed groceries that they couldn’t risk getting themselves. If you see someone helping their grown up daughter to put up a swing set in their backyard, let’s assume they are practicing safe precautions. And I believe generous assumptions will get us a long way from in-fighting and closer to community building.

This truly is a defining moment in our society. How will we let it define us? This is an excellent time to look inwards and reflect. Here are some suggestions for ways to get through this and maybe end up happier on the other side:

Practise kindness towards yourself and others.

Create schedules and also break them.

Exercise self care.

Eat well. As well as you can.

Put down your devices and read a book or play a board game.

Keep a journal, write a song, make art!

Practise smiling. Do it!

Give yourself a hug!

Extend support to those who need it – the homeless, the poor, the vulnerable.

And if you need support or have some to give, here are some great places to check out (yes, I see my Canadian bias):
Your Local Food Bank
CAMH – Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association 
Unison Benevolent Fund

Most of all, stay safe, stay home, and thank you for your support!

Love from Baie-Egmont, Prince Edward Island,


PS To celebrate my birthday on Thursday, I’m doing a little live stream on my Instagram. 6-7pm Atlantic Time. Come join me, ask me a question and meet my family. Don’t forget to dress up! xo


  1. THIS STORM is wonderful! I’m a Nova Scotian in Vancouver, trying to sell my condo, retire, and more home. My sister is in Charlottetown, retired, also trying to sell her house, and move home. We’re all keeping our thoughts positive and hoping for some better days. Stay strong and live well! You rock!
    Just a misplaced fan… Liz

  2. 💖💫💖💫💖💫💖💥💫🕉
    So enjoy your blog
    Thank you Catherine❣

  3. My wife and i enjoyed your new song so much! You have a special gentle heart and we so appreciate your music. We met once at Long Creek….small hall festival. You were so kind and dug around in your trunk for a cd we wanted when they sold out inside. Also want to tell you how u touched our hearts with the show at the brewery last summer… moving. Please know you are in out prayers always….be strong Catherine! God has a journey all mapped out for you…u just have to listen for that small voice and follow His lead! Loojing forward to Thursday and hope you get as much of a blessing as we do from it!!
    Gordon &Ella

  4. Enjoy your Beautiful Music! Thank you for sharing your Emotions and Thoughts!
    Yes always be KIND!

  5. Love the “create schedules and also break them” advice – I’ve been doing this a lot! A sense of freedom in the midst of restriction 🙂

  6. Terrific advice! I am writing from BC where our Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, who hails from PEI originally, signs off each day with the words: Be kind, be calm and be safe. She has been a star guiding this province through a tough time. Her advice is very much in sync with yours, such that we need to be less judgemental about the actions of other people and trust more.

  7. Dear Catherine,
    Cry at times would be another good advice. I always feel better after than before. Or count your blessings. Is that too easy? We must get rid of the feeling that the basic things of life are boring. Now we transfer from quantity time to quality time. But I admit my unhappiness that because of all this, it will take two or three more years before you will be back in the Netherlands. That’s a sad conclusion.

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