The Near-Term Future of Singing

As the world continues to grapple with the steps to returning to a new post-COVID-19 normal, the music community sees the longer challenges of how bringing the camaraderie of music back while preserving the health of ourselves and our communities.

What we have now is a moving target and a unified front of musical and scientific leadership who are committed to keeping the music alive, even in the face of these significant challenges.

On May 5, the National Association of Teachers of Singing hosted a conversation with heads of several national and international singing associations, as well as a presentation by respected medical and public health professionals.

singing, 2020, COVID-19, chorus, performance, rehearsal

The outcomes look bleak in the near-term, but the resolve remains. Things may look very different. We may have to wait longer than we’d like to get back on the risers, and perhaps, even longer before we get on stage for an appreciative live audience. But, that certainly doesn’t mean the end of music – it just means we have to be creative and come out of the side of this smarter and stronger than we went in.

The video is lengthy, but especially helpful for teachers, directors, and community leaders. Here are the highlights of the reality check laid out in this conversation:

  • Because of the way the virus is transmitted and the reality of a traditional singing rehearsal, singers are considered super-spreaders. Masks and 6 foot spacing is not considered effective containment in an indoor rehearsal space, or even in large groups outdoors.
  • It will likely not be safe for choirs to rehearse together until there is a vaccine or effective treatment.
  • There are theories that the use of UV lights and atmosphere “scrubbing” indoors may help, however, these methods are expensive and potentially dangerous.
  • Concerts and performances are effectively cancelled for the remainder of 2020. Beyond that is still unclear, however the stage lights may be out for up to 1-2 years.
  • If rapid testing is made widely available, rehearsals may be possible with pre-rehearsal testing and social agreements among members.
  • Venues will not be able to re-open until jurisdictions reach Stage 3 of the CDC re-opening guidelines. Liability for venues will be high. Patrons should expect temperature checks, a mask requirement, and spaced seating.

However, that’s not the end of the story.There will be more to come from NATS, Chorus America, ACDA, BHS, PAMA, and hundreds of other large and small music organizations. And there will be more to come from you – we just know it. Hold tight to your hobby or your music career. The community has already found new ways of coming together in just a few short weeks. Imagine what we’ll be able to do in the months to come.