During the pandemic we saw, and continue to see, the creativity, ingenuity, and leadership of choral professionals as they create and share resources to help themselves and others respond proactively!
U.S.-based people can order two sets of four free at-home COVID-19 tests per residence from the U.S. government. Click here for more information and to order.
Updated Guidance from the CDC (Mar. 15, 2022)
In recent weeks, the CDC has been updating its guidance related to the implementation of mitigation strategies for the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC is now recommending utilizing a combination of assessing community-level transmission rates and personal risk assessment to determine if masking should continue to be used in indoor settings. This approach is more nuanced and situated more closely within specific community settings and personal risk levels than in prior recommendations. The CDC guidance is not specific to performing arts situations. ACDA has several tools to share with you as you help lead your communities in their decision-making.
The CDC has provided a tool to help communities determine their transmission rates and discusses personal risk. Click here to see the updated information from the CDC and to use the CDC mapping tool to learn about the transmission rates in your state and county. Click here for the CDC Risk Rate Ratio visualization for individuals.
The assessment of personal risk is important as new guidance is implemented. Personal risk is determined by multiple factors including age, vaccination status, prior health concerns, among other factors. Just as personal risk varies widely, so too does the risk to different types of choral groups. For example, the risk to a church choir may be quite different than to a children’s choir etc. The CDC continues to recommend masking for all people when community transmission is high and/or when personal risk is high. The CDC tools listed above can be helpful in making these determinations.
The findings from the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study have continued to demonstrate that safe, in-person music making can take place. These findings have been updated as recently as March 2022 to include the recommendation to place importance on the local and state transmission rates when making decisions related to mitigation strategies. Additional research is on-going to continue to monitor the trends within performing arts settings. As stated previously, choral music can be performed in all settings. Organizers should continue to layer mitigation measures, as needed, for their specific communities and individual participants.
You should continue to expect guidance recommendations from the CDC and your local health authorities to change as more information becomes available. Additionally, you will want to remain vigilant in monitoring the transmission rates in your communities and be prepared to scale up or down mitigation strategies as warranted in your settings. Conductors should continue to follow the guidance of their states, cities, institutions, and venues, as these requirements may vary across your community. Additionally, some previously scheduled activities may already have requirements in place and the timing of this new guidance from the CDC makes it an incredible hardship to change at this point. Everyone is encouraged to have patience and fully cooperate with event organizers during this transition time.
Changes to mitigation strategies take time to implement. While some groups may be completely ready to leave their masks behind, others may be more cautious in their approach. There continues to be space to meet people’s needs as we move into the next stage of the pandemic. We’ve come so very far in our ability to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. We hope this new information is helpful to you as you continue to sing within your community.
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)
Summary of Current COVID-19 Related Guidance (Feb. 11, 2022)
Summarizing the latest CDC recommendations and results from the choral/singing-specific research ACDA has helped sponsor, the co-chairs of the International Performing Arts Aerosol Study held an update session for consortium partners on Feb. 10. There are some updates to the recommendations to address the Omicron variant:
- Due to new conditions related to the Omicron variant, the researchers recommend updating to N95, KN95, and KF94 masks for most effective mitigation of transmission.
- In areas experiencing high transmission, a temporary move to distancing of 6 ft should be considered. This should only be a temporary measure and only applied in areas experiencing high community spread. In areas not experiencing high community transmission, the 3 ft distancing recommendation remains.
- Constituents are encouraged to continue to work with state and local health departments and ensure these department have access to the guidance from the aerosol study when making community-level decisions.
- All performing arts activities CAN and SHOULD remain active in schools, including contests and festivals.
Updated Guidance (Feb. 10, 2022)
The main updates in these guidelines are the recommendations – due to the Omicron variant – (1) for masks to be N95, KN95, or KF94, (2) in areas of high transmission, a temporary move back to distancing of 6 ft., and (3) the encouragement to continue to work with state and local health departments, ensuring that they have access to the aerosol study findings and recommendations when making community-level decisions. Finally, (4) all performing arts activities can and should remain active in schools, including contests and festivals.
Collaborating Partner Resources and Guidance
ACDA, BHS, Chorus America, and NATS have been collaborating since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide our members in the singing profession with the best and most current guidance from the CDC, as well as the latest research on singing and COVID-19. While each of our organizations has kept its own membership updated, this email is designed to share the latest resources from each organization with all of our combined membership.
We continue to urge individuals and groups to appropriately assess the personal and organizational risk factors of operating in various settings so that we can all do our part in returning to our stages and rehearsals in a safe manner, while continuing to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and our art.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
The CDC issued updated masking guidance as of July 27, 2021, in response to new evidence on the Delta variant currently circulating in the United States. They recommend that all people, including the fully vaccinated, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission (96% of counties in the U.S. as of August 23). Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, or not fully vaccinated. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC continues to recommend that people without vaccines mask, distance, and take other precautions, as well as avoiding specific situations.
American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)
- COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Choir. A three-minute video sharing results from research by the University of Colorado and University of Maryland, which ACDA helped sponsor.
- Resources for Choral Professionals During the Pandemic. A curated page of resources, guidance, complimentary choral music, and planning tools.
- COVID-19 ACDA Response Committee Report (June 15, 2020). Guidance and a statement of support for choral singing and study during the pandemic, with protocols for MS/JH upper elementary schools, senior high schools, collegiate choirs, community choirs (youth and adult), and music in worship.
Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS)
- COVID-19 Resources for Barbershoppers. The latest resources, guidance, and planning for ensembles.
- BHS’s Pandemic Reopening Roundtable Discussion. Learn how 4 BHS choruses are managing safely reopening in their community.
- BHS’s Barbershop Live at Home Event. Singing virtually is FUN: Vocal Warm-ups, Tech Tips, Archive Video, Tags, and more! Perfect for all singing levels!
- What’s Next: Preparing for a Healthy, Safe Reopening. A panel of doctors with experience advising performing arts organizations and choruses shared the latest updates in COVID developments and vaccination efforts at Chorus America’s June 2021 conference.
- Prepare for Fall: Public Health Updates and Member Forums. Starting in late August, Chorus America will host a series of events to help choruses stay on top of COVID-19 developments and planning for the fall. Events include public conversations with doctors advising performing arts organizations, and Member Forums on September 14 and 16.
- Reopening Decisions: How Choral Leaders Are Bringing Singers Back Together. This article from the Summer Voice shares a framework for making difficult decisions about masks, distancing, vaccinations, waivers, and other safety protocols the course of the season.
- COVID-19 Resource Page. Find the latest guidance and resources, as well as examples of waivers and other documents from member choruses.
National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
Reentry After COVID-19: Concerns for Singers. A June 23, 2021, webinar, which was a sequel to the 2020 NATS webinar After COVID: Concerns for Singers.
- Reentry Following COVID-19: Concerns for Singers. A Journal of Singing pre-publication article (by D. Meyer, J. Nix, L. Helding et al.) that is a follow-up to the webinar.
- #FightTheFatigue Campaign. NATS continues to communicate the importance of positive messaging and fighting the fatigue with messages you can share on social media to support one another and encourage the singing community during this time.
Joint Statement by ACDA, Chorus America, NATS, BHS, PAMA et al. on Continued Safety Measures During the Holiday Season (Dec. 8, 2021)
As we enter this season of joy and celebration, it is thrilling to see and hear singers, choruses, choirs, and singing groups of all types along with their collaborative artists rehearsing, performing, and sharing beauty and community with live audiences again.
The hard work and determination it takes to gather together safely is recognized by Chorus America; the National Association of Teachers of Singing; the American Choral Directors Association; the Barbershop Harmony Society; the Performing Arts Medicine Association, the Pan American Vocology Association; the National Opera Association; Sweet Adelines International; Harmony Incorporated; and the National Collegiate Choral Organization. We are grateful for this extraordinary effort that is helping to keep singers and audiences safe and our field on track as it rebuilds from the pandemic’s drastic effects.
Collectively, we urge continued vigilance and encourage everyone to stay informed as new variants are identified and communities see cases rising. We strongly support continued efforts to promote best practices in combatting the pandemic, including COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, we recommend that choral groups and their leaders, institutions, and private studios continue to review and implement mitigation practices that have been shown to be successful, such as masking, physical distancing, testing, and increased ventilation. As conditions evolve, our community should remain nimble and respond to potential increased risk by increasing the rigor of these mitigation strategies as needed based upon local community level data. Working together, we will continue to find ways for our community to gather safely.
Thank you for giving our communities the gift of singing together safely. We wish all of you a joyful and music-filled holiday season.
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
Centers for Disease Control Guidance (Jul. 27, 2021)
The CDC issued updated masking guidance as of Jul. 27, 2021 given new evidence on the Delta variant currently circulating in the United States. They recommend that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, or not fully vaccinated. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. 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.
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.
Research (Additional from the Aerosol Study Coalition)
Video: COVID Prevention Strategies Among Music Programs – Study with CDC (Aug 4, 2022)
In the Spring of 2022, the NFHS, CBDNA, and the International Aerosol Study Coalition embarked on a collaborative study with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the effect of recommend COVID-19 prevention strategies in the performing arts classrooms during the Fall 2021 Semester. This is a three-minute video. summary of the results.
Research Paper: COVID Prevention Strategies Among Music Porgram – Study with CDC (Aug 4, 2022)
This study allows us to better understand mitigations used by secondary and higher education music programs across the United States during August 1–December 15, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic forced music programs across the country to rethink how and where to practice and whether to perform or participate in competitions. Most respondents (80%) reported their music program implemented mitigations, with an average of three mitigations implemented at once.
Infographic: COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies Used in K-12 Schools & Collegiate Music Programs in the U.S. – Fall 2021 (Aug 4, 2022)
Video: Performing Arts Aerosol Study: A Conversation on Mitigations for Fall 2021 (Aug 27, 2021)
A 35-minute video conversation on mitigations for fall 2021 with Dr. James Weaver (NFHS), Dr. Mark Spede (CBDNA/Clemson), and Bob Morrison (Arts Ed New Jersey). This includes a variety of activities (Speech, Debate, Theatre, Music, etc) from the elementary to collegiate levels. Of note: there are updates on recommendations for distancing (decreased to 3 ft.) and the amount of time for rehearsals/performances (increased to 50 min.) – approx. 23:26.
Research paper: Measurements and Simulations of Aerosol Released While Singing and Playing Wind Instruments (Aug 27, 2021)
by T. Stockman, S. Shu, A. Kumar et al. (research paper – Aug. 27, 2021). Includes an interesting video clip showing leakage plumes when a singer is masked versus unmasked.
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.
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.
Peer-Reviewed Scientific Paper: Respiratory Aerosol Emissions from Vocalization: Age and Sex Differences Are Explained by Volume and Exhaled CO2 (Nov. 9, 2021)
Abstract: Evidence suggests that airborne transmission of infectious respiratory aerosol plays an important role for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This work characterized respiratory aerosol emissions from a panel of healthy individuals of varying age and sex while talking and singing in a controlled laboratory setting. Particle number concentrations between 0.25 and 33 μm were measured from 63 participants aged 12–61 years with concurrent monitoring of voice volume and exhaled CO2 levels. On average, singing produced 77% (95% CI: 42,109%) more aerosol than talking, adults produced 62% (CI: 27,98%) more aerosol than minors, and males produced 34% (CI: 0,70%) more aerosol than females. After accounting for participant voice volume and exhaled CO2 (both of which were positively correlated with aerosol emissions) in linear models, the age and sex differences were attenuated and no longer statistically significant. These results support further investigation of voice volume and CO2 as indicators of infection risk indoors.
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.
Copyrights and Permissions
Copyright 101 for Conductors: The What’s, Why’s, and How-To’s (by Rebecca Lord & Nate Wise)
Choirs with Limited Budgets: Top Ten Solutions for Copyright Compliance on a Dime (by Rebecca Lord & Nate Wise)
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.