Haliburton Guitar Studio owner Nick Russell is not hatching his business in ideal circumstances but said it feels great to find a new home.

A product of the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) business incubator the past three years, the studio moved into its own office April 1.

The music lesson and repair studio has moved into Halco Plaza at 83 Maple Ave. Russell has to keep his doors closed for now due to COVID-19 health restrictions but said he is happy with the space.

“While I think it needs to be a little bit cozier and funkier, it’s a suitable spot in a great downtown location and it checks a lot of boxes,” he said. “Very happy with it.”

The local guitarist has seen the success of his studio highlighted by HCDC. The business was also featured nationally by the Community Futures Network of Canada in its annual report last year.

Russell said having multiple sources of revenue has helped him succeed, with both teaching and post-production work part of his operation. He added he receives plenty of support as a local.

“Moving back to home for me, a more rural area, I was kind of overwhelmed with the support my business received,” Russell said. “It’s been really great so far.”

HCDC business incubator coordinator Jim Blake said Russell was eager to learn how to run a business and successfully leveraged the connections he had to the community.

“Nick is really skilled at what he does, so he’s built a reputation,” Blake said. “He is also a known quantity.”

Russell cannot meet students face-to-face amidst the lockdown and has had to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic. He said he has gotten by with remote lessons and post-production work, though he noted challenges in expanding his client base and connecting with students who have poor internet.

“It’s almost like the year’s a writeoff,” Russell said. “But luckily, I’m not going anywhere. My clients aren’t going anywhere. We’re just kind of waiting for things to equalize a little bit.”

Russell has kept himself plenty busy, including releasing a self-produced album entitled Archtop March 1. It was produced remotely, with its bass recordings done by a friend in Spain. “I’m really happy with the end result,” Russell said. “It was a true COVID project.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, Russell said it is important for people to continue producing art and he hopes it can help his students.

“You look at challenging times in history, often some of the best art is created,” Russell said. “Practicing music – although there’s no outlet for performance – can provide kind of like a stabilized, healing effect. Because it’s something that’s wholesome, something that’s progressive and something that is ultimately enjoyable”

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