During this challenging time, we are seeing the creativity, ingenuity, and leadership of choral professionals as they create and share resources to help themselves and others respond proactively! This page is an attempt to collect many of these ideas and suggestions together. Do you know of other resources that are particularly relevant for choral professionals? Please email Sundra Flansburg () with your suggestions.
Summary of Current COVID-19 Related Guidance
Summarizing the latest CDC recommendations and results from the choral/singing-specific research ACDA has helped sponsor:
- If everyone in your group is fully vaccinated, the CDC says they can sing inside or outside without masks and without needing to follow the other protocols of distancing, ventilation, and so on. Exceptions would be people with compromised immune systems (early research is showing that vaccines are not as effective in building immunity for that group) or if your local city or state still has a mask mandate superseding the CDC recommendation. In sum, for rehearsals that include only fully vaccinated people, no masks or other protocols are necessary.
- In settings where there are some unvaccinated people, for example school choirs and choral performances in settings like performance halls and sanctuaries, the protocols of masking, ventilation (timing), and distancing should continue to be followed. The three-minute video “COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Choir,” which shares results from the Performing Arts Aerosol Research Study, provides a clear and concise explanation of the necessary protocols.
ACDA note: The operative term is “fully vaccinated.” How you determine that is up to you and your boards or governing agencies. Some people have concerns about requiring proof of vaccination (e.g., HIPAA regulations about privacy). Just as many businesses are now using the “honor system,” you may choose to do that as well. If there is any doubt, however, about whether or not there are unvaccinated people in the choirs, we urge caution and encourage you to continue following protocols.
Additionally, we note that after the very difficult year we have been through, even some fully vaccinated people will continue to be more comfortable wearing masks. We urge that those wishes be respected.
***Joint Statement by ACDA, NATS, Chorus America, Barbershop Harmony Society, PAMA et al. on Vaccinations and Best Health Practices (Jun. 23, 2021)
The National Association of Teachers of Singing Voice Science Advisory Committee, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the Barbershop Harmony Society, the Performing Arts Medicine Association, the Pan American Vocology Association, Opera America, and National Collegiate Choral Organization strongly recommend that all singing teachers, choral conductors, collaborative pianists, and singers eligible to receive an FDA authorized vaccine1, follow CDC guidance2, and become fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
We collectively support public health education efforts at the local, state, and national level that offer accurate information about vaccine efficacy and safety and that encourage all persons to become vaccinated.3
We recommend that unvaccinated teachers, conductors, collaborative pianists, and singers continue to follow COVID-19 prevention and mitigation practices that have been effective in reducing the spread of the disease in indoor public areas.4 These include but are not limited to the use of masks, physical distancing, increased ventilation, reduced contact time, regular cleaning of common surfaces, and vigorous hand washing.5
https://www.nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/article.html/Featured_Stories/NATS_COVID_Resources_Page; https://acda.org/resources-forchoral-professionals-during-a-pandemic/ ;
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public ; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-
ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html ; https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preventing-the-spread-of-thecoronavirus .
Centers for Disease Control Guidance (May 13, 2021)
The CDC issued updated masking guidance as of May 13, 2021. Fully vaccinated people can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. The CDC continues to recommend that people without vaccines mask and distance and take other precautions, as well as avoiding specific situations. Click here for the full, revised CDC masking guidance.
1. Aerosol Generation from Playing Band Instruments, Singing, and Performing, and Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission (Univ. of Colorado & Univ. of Maryland)
Purpose: The study examined aerosol rates produced by wind instrumentalists, vocalists, and even actors, and how quickly those aerosol rates accumulate in a space.
Lead Researcher: Dr. L. Shelly Miller, University of Colorado.
The first release of preliminary results was focused on woodwinds and brass (Jul. 13, 2020)
Updated Guidelines (Jul. 9, 2021)
As the U. S. continues the process of moving to post-pandemic conditions, questions about music activity abound, including for the fall and beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Though the U. S. is reaching a higher level of vaccinated adults, the rates for those aged 12-17 remains low. This document summarizes current guidelines from the aerosol study.
A survey was conducted beginning April 28, 2021, to assess the level of spread events that occurred in school-based music programs. 3,000 surveys were returned and analyzed in June 2021. Watch a four-minute video summarizing the results.
Learn about the COVID-19 mitigation strategies for choir developed from the research done at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland in the Aerosol Study.
Scientific preprint of the research paper: “Measurements and Simulations of Aerosol Released while Singing and Playing Wind Instruments” (Apr. 13, 2021)
Abstract: Outbreaks from choir performances, such as the Skagit Valley Choir, showed that singing brings potential risk of COVID-19 infection. There is less known about the risks of airborne infection from other musical performance, such as playing wind instruments or performing theatre. In addition, it is important to understand methods that can be used to reduce infection risk. In this study, we used a variety of methods, including flow visualization, aerosol and CO₂ measurements, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to understand the different components that can lead to transmission risk from musical performance and risk mitigation. This study was possible because of a partnership across academic departments and institutions and collaboration with the National Federation of State High School Associations and the College Band Directors National Association. The interdisciplinary team enabled us to understand the various aspects of aerosol transmission risk from musical performance, and quickly implement strategies in music classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that plumes from musical performance were highly directional, unsteady, and vary considerably in time and space. Aerosol number concentration measured at the bell of the clarinet were comparable to singing. Face and bell masks attenuated plume velocities and lengths and decreased aerosol concentrations measured in front of the masks. CFD modeling showed differences between indoor and outdoor environments and that lowest risk of airborne COVID-19 infection occurred at less than 30 minutes of exposure indoors and less than 60 minutes outdoors.
Summary of Guidance Following New CDC Distancing Recommendation (Mar. 19, 2021)
The CDC announced reduced physical distancing on March 19, 2021. This one-pager summarizes the recommendations for performing arts activities.
This latest release includes a one-page summary, aerosol production and mitigation effects, efficacy of masks, CFD modeling of small ensemble singers, and more.
Conversation video with lead researchers & chairs – especially recommended
Video on viral transmission by Dr. Miller & Dr. Vance
ACDA notes that in general, previous recommendations are reinforced with the most recent results. Especially notable:
- Singers produce aerosol at similar rates as woodwinds and brass. The amount of aerosol dispersed by singers varies depending on consonants, vowels, intensity and pitch. In addition, singers wearing a well-fitted, three-layer, surgical-style mask have a reduced release of aerosol.
- The researchers also addressed face shields and plexiglass partitions in the latest data. Among the findings were that face shields are only effective at close range to stop large droplets and do not prevent aerosol from being inhaled or released unless a mask is also worn. In addition, plexiglass partitions or barriers between musicians are not recommended due to HVAC system design limitations in rooms. The experts indicated a concern for aerosol build-up when plexiglass barriers are used.
Explanatory Webinar: Second Release of Preliminary Results of Performing Arts Aerosol Research Study – organized by ACDA, NATS, Chorus America, Barbershop Harmony Society, and PAMA (Aug. 10, 2020)
ACDA, NATS, PAMA, Chorus America, and the Barbershop Harmony Society presented a joint Q&A-style webinar with study researcher Dr. Jelena Srebric (reviewing the preliminary findings for singers), otolaryngologist Dr. Lucinda Halstead (with a review of mask options), and soprano Olivia Lerwick (describing her participation in the research study) on Monday, August 10.
Recording of the webinar
Personal Risk Tolerance Assessment
What does the data say in my locale?
GA Tech Event Risk Assessment Tool
What about my studio/building?
The University of Colorado Boulder risk assessment tool
Harvard-UC Boulder Portable Air Cleaner Calculator for Schools.v1.1
Explanatory Webinar: Second Release of Preliminary Results of Performing Arts Aerosol Research Study – organized by the researchers (Aug. 6, 2020)
Moderator: James Weaver. This webinar was organized by the researchers of the aerosol study, and featured the co-chairs, Dr. James Weaver, NFHS Director of Performing Arts and Sports, and Dr. Mark Spede, CBDNA President, Director of Bands, Clemson University, as well as lead researchers and others.
Recording of webinar
Response from ACDA, BHS, Chorus America, and NATS on the preliminary results
Aerosol Study FAQs
2. Reducing Bioaerosol Emissions and Exposures in the Performing Arts: A Scientific Roadmap for a Safe Return from COVID-19 (Colorado State University)
Objective: To reduce the risk of human exposure and co-infection to SARS-COV-2 aerosol during performing arts activities.
Team: Researchers with the Powerhouse Energy Campus at Colorado State University.
Bioaerosol Emissions in the Performing Arts – Reducing Emissions and Exposures: A Multi-Part Series (Part Three) (May 20, 2021)
This third session in the series was led by Professor John Volckens of Colorado State University. Professor Volckens provided an update on the progress of his ongoing study focused specifically on bioaerosol emissions in the performing arts, including current factual information that this study has brought to clear light, and how an understanding of this information may, should, and will affect our work in the fine and performing arts fields. Additionally, Professor Volckens provided an update on ongoing work to understand the efficacy of masks and face-coverings, which are now thought to be a primary means to control the spread of the virus from individuals in close contact.
ACDA notes from this session, prepared by Hilary Apfelstadt, ACDA Interim Executive Director.
Explanatory Webinar: Preliminary Results – Mask Design 101: A Bootcamp for Masks During COVID-19 (Sep. 17, 2020)
Organized by Colorado State University, NATS, and the Energy Institute at CSU. Recording of webinar.
Reducing Bioaerosol Emissions and Exposures in the Performing Arts: Preliminary Results (Aug. 17, 2020)
This release included information about the effectiveness of a variety of masks.
- Masks reduce vocal emissions by 90% or more.
- However, every singer’s mask tested to that date performed poorly, according to the study’s standards.
- Variability from one person to the next is important.
Featured Planning Tools
Join Your Voices: The Safe Return to Choral Singing Decision-Making Protocol (Mar. 2021, by Noteable)
To assist choral leaders in search of a responsible and transparent pathway to return safely to singing, critical aspects and considerations have been compiled from current guidelines and initiatives related to the COVID-19 situation and organized to support a decision-making process.
COVID-19 Response Committee Report (Jun. 15, 2020, by the ACDA COVID-19 Response Committee)
On Jun. 15, ACDA released guidance and a statement of support for choral singing and study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Included are protocols for MS/JH upper elementary schools, senior high schools, collegiate choirs, community: youth and adult choirs, and music in worship. An important appendix contains guidance and ideas for establishing instructional models. The report was developed by a team of choral professionals from across the country, and with expertise and experience in choral education and conducting in a variety of choral settings including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community choirs, and places of worship.
Recording of webinar that summarized and discussed the report’s contents
List of Response Committee members
Choral Music in the Time of COVID-19 (Jul. 3, 2020, by the Western ACDA Task Force for Innovation)
Western ACDA’s 90-person task force has produced folders of resources, as well as video discussion and how-to’s. They suggest reading the Introduction, reviewing the folder in your specific area, reviewing other folders of interest, then finish with the Technology Resources (including side-by-side comparisons of platforms and software. This collection of resources is being continually expanded and updated.
Top 2020 Choral Solutions During the Pandemic: A Fast Track to Success (Aug. 19, 2020), by Rebecca Lord
The recommendations in this ChoralNet post are collected from conductors who have blazed the trails with their choirs through the early days of the pandemic.
NH Music Education: Return to School 2020 (Jul. 31, 2020), by NH American Choral Directors Association, NH American Strings Teachers Association, NH Band Directors Association, and NH Music Educators Association.
This document was developed to be a resource to New Hampshire music educators as they planned for continuing high-quality instruction in music education while prioritizing student and staff safety during the 2020-21 school year.
Planning for Your Choir in Uncertain Times – A Framework (by Canada’s Provincial Choral Organizations and Choral Canada members)
A one-page, step-by-step guide to planning for your choir when everything seems uncertain.
COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool (by Georgie Tech College of Sciences)
An interactive dashboard that estimates COVID-19 incidence at gatherings in the U.S. has added a new feature: the ability to calculate county-level risk of attending an event with someone actively infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Guest Artist Directory
ACDA member Dr. Rebecca Lord has developed a living database of artists willing to make online guest appearances for choirs and music classes. An amazing list of diverse professionals offering to appear for choir classes, events, community and church choirs – about any choral situation. Visit the directory.
Would you like to be added to the directory? Please fill out this form.
ACDA member Rebecca Lord has created a database of current Free-$1/Copy Sheet-Music Resources. It features an array of websites providing public domain scores, works of individual composers, special collections, and historic documents and autograph scores among others. Copyright and other helpful information provided.
We are grateful to our ACDA composers who gifted the following pieces for our members’ use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There Will Be Songs (Kirstina Rasmussen Collins) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Strange Is the Night (Nicholas Kelly) for a cappella SATB chorus
- In Paradisum (Z. Randall Stroope) for a cappella SATB chorus
- To Sing Again (Robert Russell) for a cappella SATB chorus
- And the Sun Is Orange (Karin Michael) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Bring Us Peace (Michele Hecht) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Uncertain Times (Mitchell T. Davey) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Part of the Gift (David Lauria) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Ave Rosa Sine Spinis (Michael John Trotta) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Life Has Its Meanings (HG Moses) for SATB chorus and piano
- Songs from Silence (Elaine Hagenberg) for a cappella SATB, SSAA, or TTBB chorus
- La Rosa Eterna (Kevin Barba) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Falling Leaves (Juhi Bansal) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Lux Aeterna (John Newell) for a cappella SATB chorus
- Oure Light in Oure Night (Adrienne Inglis) for voices and nature soundtrack
- Three new works by David Avshalomov for a cappella SATB chorus
- Rest (Robert Cohen) for a cappella SATB chorus
- fermata (Dan Forrest). Two canons in 5 for SATB or SSAA choir, expressing sorrow yet hope for singers waiting to sing again.
Other Complimentary Music Offers
***Now at Last We Sing Again! (comp. by Tom Lough). The Noteable Mask team has shared a free download offering for use in celebrating the return to singing.
Many Hills Songbook. For their 20th anniversary, the Manhattan Choral Ensemble invited contemporary composers connected to New York City to contribute to a choral songbook – which you can download for free. The composers allowed the ensemble to share their work with you through a Creative Commons license for free non-commercial use.
Oxford University Press is offering some free online versions of songs and vocal activities in the form of extracts from two series, Oxford Solo Songs: Sacred (Volume 1 and Volume 2) and Voiceworks (Junior Voiceworks: 33 Songs for Children, Voicelinks: Songs and Activities across the Curriculum, and Folk Voiceworks: 30 Traditional Songs). They also have a Spotify playlist.
***Reentry after COVID – Concerns for Singing (Jun. 22, 2021 – webinar)
NATS (Lynn Helding and Allen Henderson) hosted this webinar with panelists Tom Carroll, John Nix, Wendy LeBorgne, Jeremy Faust, and David Meyer on important reentry topics and new COVID-19 related concerns as preparations for in person collaboration are underway. Watch the recording.
Copyright Guidance for Singing in a Virtual World (Jun. 9, 2020 – webinar)
ACDA, NATS, PAMA, Chorus America, and the Barbershop Harmony Society co-hosted. Moderator: Janice Bane, copyright & licensing manager at Barbershop Harmony Society. Watch the recording.
Singing: What We CAN Do (May 26, 2020 – webinar)
ACDA, NATS, PAMA, Chorus America, and the Barbershop Harmony Society co-hosted. Moderator: Brian Newhouse, Minnesota Public Radio. Watch the recording.
What Do Science and Data Say About the Near-Term Future of Singing? (May 5, 2020 – webinar)
ACDA, NATS, PAMA, Chorus America, and the Barbershop Harmony Society co-hosted. ACDA did not make a statement coming out of this webinar. The goal of this webinar was to listen to leading scientists on the facts of the virus, allowing us to formulate potential next steps amidst much uncertainty.
Resources & Handouts from the webinar
Unedited recording of the webinar
Mental Health and Inspiration
Posts and Other Short Writings
Students Show Flexibility and Diligence (by Jason McKee)
Silver Linings (by Michael J. Goede)
The Empathy of Friends (Tim Sharp, interviewed by NATS)
The Arts Are Essential to Public Infrastructure (by Michael McGaghie)
“We will come out of this period even stronger than we were before”: Interview with Tim Sharp (by Interkultur)
Thoughts on Leadership (produced by KI Concerts) includes powerful perspectives from choral leaders Tim Sharp, Heather J. Buchanan, Eric Stark, and Pearl Shangkuan. In this four-minute video, they share pearls of wisdom on leadership during trying times.
Living in the Wilderness (By Bruce Becker)
The Pandemic Shut Down Choirs. We’re Finding New Ways to Sing Together (by Tim Sharp, The Washington Post)
Let’s Find Solutions (By Amanda Quist)
What Are We Going to Do About This? (by Gary Packwood)
How to Salvage a Disastrous Day in Your Covid-19 House Arrest (by Aisha S. Ahmad, The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Cantate: Choral Music in the Time of Coronavirus (published by California Choral Directors Association)
My Journey with COVID-19 (by Tim Sharp)
Grief and Gratitude Coexist (by Joy Fritz Paffenroth)
Working Together While Living Apart (by Alice Parker)
My Rubric for Innovation (by Tim Sharp)
A Note to My Church Choir (by Randall Bradley)
How Do We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land? (by Tim Sharp)
On Loss, Community, and Taking a Breath (by Jennie Weyman, in California Choral Directors Association’s Cantate)
Crowdsourcing: CCDA Board Members and Friends Share Inspiration for Surviving the Crisis (compiled by Polly Vasche, in California Choral Directors Assocation’s Cantate)
It’s Okay to Suck at Being an Online Choir Teacher (by Chris Munce)
Copyrights and Permissions
Copyright Guidance for Distance Learning (by NFHS & NAfME)
TEACH Act summary and FAQs on copyrights in distance learning.
GIA Publications, Inc., Statement on Permissions During the Pandemic
Hal Leonard Statement on Permissions During the Pandemic
J. W. Pepper Statement on Sharing Sheet Music Digital
Lorenz Corporation Statement on Permissions and Licensing
Please contact other publishers directly for their policies during the crisis.
ACDA Member Emails
View the member emails with highlights & tips!
Jun. 16: Help us say “Thanks!” to chapter leaders
Jun. 9: Join us in looking forward!
Jun. 2: Refresh with your June newsletter
May 26: Update on effective masking from CSU
May 19: Here is the current guidance on singing together
May 12: Here are the silver lining a conductor’s students shared with her
May 5: Be reading for the downbeat with your May newsletter!
Apr. 28: 7 silver linings from a community choir director’s past year
Apr. 21: Francisco Núñez describes this moment as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves
Apr. 14: Be inspired by Alice Parker’s conference keynote address!
Apr. 7: Music in Worship webinar, updated guidance on returning to choral rehearsals & more
Mar. 31: Anton Armstrong: “We are so often called upon to provide comfort, compassion & healing through our music”
Mar. 24: Overheard: “My heart, soul & mind have not only been fed, but challenged & uplifted”
Mar. 17: If you need some inspiration and connections, we’ve got it!
Mar. 10: Edith Copley has a message on conference interest sessions
Mar. 3: Highlights of conference music in worship service
Feb. 24: Another Silver Lining post for you
Feb. 17: Warm your spirits browsing upcoming events!
Feb. 10: Take a look inside at the array of virtual events open to you
Feb. 3: Two new purposes added to ACDA constitution
Jan. 27: Last day to register for national conference at the lowest price
Jan. 20: Just 7 more days to get the best conference price
Jan. 13: Have you found a silver lining during this time?
Jan. 6: Here’s a video message from Andre Thomas about the conference
Dec. 23: Happy Holidays from ACDA
Dec. 16: Connect & replenish yourself at the national conference
Dec. 9: Pay it forward by making a gift to ACDA’s Fund for Tomorrow
Dec. 2: Conference previews, Robert Shaw Award and Julius Herford Prize winners
Nov. 25: We’re thankful for you & appreciate everything you’re doing this year!
Nov. 18: More preliminary results from the Performing Arts Aerosol Study released
Nov. 11: Register now for the 2021 virtual national conference!
Nov. 4: Conference registration is now open
Oct. 29: Registration for the 2021 ACDA virtual conference opens Nov. 4
Oct. 21: 9 ACDA members make semifinalist for Music Educator Grammy!
Oct. 14: Have you completed the diversity & inclusion survey yet?
Oct. 7: Sign up to be an ACDA Choral Advocate
Oct. 1: A Choral Journal: “Sounds of Blackness: A Focus Issue on Racial Harmony”
Sep. 23: Here are some words from Tim Sharp
Sep. 16: Colorado State University & NATS webinar tomorrow on mask design
Sep. 2: An interim executive director is named
Aug. 26: ACDA’s Executive Committee statement on Tim Sharp’s retirement
Aug. 19: ACDA’s 2021 national conference goes virtual!
Aug. 12: Research results & our response to preliminary findings
Jul. 29: Join us in saluting our choral educators!
Jul. 22: There are 6 state virtual events starting over the next week!
Jul. 15: Refresh with an honor choir performance of “Be the Change”
Jul. 8: Consider participating in one of this summer’s state virtual conferences!
Jun. 24: Did you know some states’ virtual offerings are open to you?
Jun. 17: Join a Monday webinar on the COVID-19 Response Committee report
Jun. 10: An ACDA COVID-response document coming next week with support & guidance
May 27: Our second webinar was energizing and showcased creativity
May 20: Webinar 2 will focus on what we CAN do!
May 13: The time for advocacy is now!
May 6: The shifting focus to what we CAN do
Apr. 29: Music created in the moment is what connects us!
Apr. 22: We’re in this together!
Apr. 15: Here’s your Wednesday shot of inspiration
April 8: Thank you for continuing the musical experiences that are so nourishing!
April 1: We’re inspired by you – no joke!
March 25: How are you coping and altering your choral work life?
March 18: Here are some tools and inspiration to keep you moving ahead!
March 13: Here are online resources & ideas to access now
**Newly added resource. This page last updated June 29, 2021.