Singers, when can we meet again?
Short answer: Nobody knows yet. Click here to help fund the answer.
There is lots of news crossing my desk from choral and singing experts and not-so-experts about "safe singing distances" while we are amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It's all guesses, everything from 3 feet to 24 feet to "wear masks" and "we can't wear masks" to "who cares" and "nothing is safe". Some notable answers:
American Federation of Musicians Unions Returning to Work Safely Guidelines
- Six feet/two meters between players in a room—limit number of musicians accordingly.
- Twelve feet/3.6 meters between winds/brass, singers and other musicians if in the same room.
The New York Times and the ACDA Choral Leaders' conversation in May agree
- Don't sing together yet. Sit tight"
Multnomah County keeps a webpage for small civic groups: https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/faith-based-and-community-groups-covid-19-guidance with the usual
- Stay home if ill. Fever is a sure indicator of illness
- Wear a mask in public
- Do not touch your face
- Maintain 6' social distancing
- Avoid crowds
- Wash your hands often
- Ask volunteers at higher risk — those who are older, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant — to stay home as much as possible and take extra precautions to stay healthy.
Oregon.gov talks about what's allowed for Multnomah County for "Phase One":
- Local cultural, civic and faith gatherings are allowed...
- for up to 25 people
- provided physical distancing can be in place.
- Large gatherings and events are not possible until a reliable treatment or prevention is available. As a result, these are cancelled or significantly modified through at least September.
Since my groups and our audiences are "at risk" and often larger than 25, the rule is still "NOT YET" til we get real answers.
Happily, dozens national and international sports and musical organizations, including the Barbershop Harmony Society, National High Schools, and the American Choral Directors Association have commissioned a study to find out the actual answers. You can read about it and even donate at https://www.nfhs.org/articles/unprecedented-international-coalition-led-by-performing-arts-organizations-to-commission-covid-19-study/
So, right now, what to do? The most optimistic answer is "No singing together yet, until we find safe ways to do it." We might know some ways soon, so cancelling meetings and concerts still a few weeks off is probably premature. If a county isn't open for meetings and concerts, and preventative methods are still unknown, events can and should be cancelled, even "at the last minute". We can and do replace the cancelled events with online meetings and choosing later dates.
And that's what we're doing, cancelling and altering our plans, one event and one rehearsal at a time. That's the best we know right now. I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
Yours, Gary Shannon
PS. Vera Lynn, singer of We'll Meet Again, passed away June 18, 2020 at 103. See BBC's obituary.