An Hour Well Spent – Performing Arts Aerosol Study Preliminary Results 3

In its ongoing task of identifying ways to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in performing arts activities, a third set of preliminary results has been released in the unprecedented aerosol study commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and a coalition of more than 125 performing arts organizations. The intention is that a final release will be made in the New Year and in time research will be validated.

To get the most out of the release it really is worth watching the hour- long video and music teachers worldwide are recommended to do this.

This is a discussion of the release, which is available as a PDF, but the discussion iself illuminates the text to a high degree.

The recommendations are based on American Standards which of course are not replicated around the world but given the specificity of the research, music teachers worldwide should at least consider them in the context of their own settings.  I imagine that for many it will be the access to sufficiently air -conditioned rooms that might be a problem.

Masks – Masks should be worn by students, and masks/bell covers should be on instruments and materials.

Distance – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distancing guidelines of 6 feet by 6 feet should be followed, with additional space (9 feet by 6 feet) for trombone players. The distancing guidelines apply for outdoors as well as indoors.

Time – Rehearsals should be limited to 30 minutes. Indoors, the room should be cleared, and leaders should wait until at least one HVAC air change has occurred before the next rehearsal.  

Air Flow – Outdoor activity remains the best place for air flow. Indoors, HEPA filters are strongly recommended to increase the amount of clean air and the number of air changes per hour (ACH).

Hygiene – The strong emphasis continues on hygiene, including frequent handwashing, and cleaning of spit valves and storage areas.

Using plexiglass masks was not as effective as face covering masks.

Marking Bells does limit aerosol release but it was found that aerosol release from woodwind keys was limited and so covering did not reduce aerosol release significantly.

Some useful takeaways conclude the report

Anecdotally it has been reported that band activities have taken place with COVID-19 students present, probably unknowingly, but as all the above precautions were in place there have been no outbreaks!

Knowing how poor rehearsal facilities are in UK schools compared to those I have seen in the USA and Australia , with poor ventilation, low ceilings and poor acoustics I wonder could this be a catalyst for change in the UK?

Published by askrichardarts

Recently retired (September 2019) after a 42 year career in Music and Arts Education I am an experienced arts educator specialising in school leadership and all aspects of arts education but with particular expertise in music and music education. From 2011 - 2019 I was Music and Arts Strategy Manager in South Gloucestershire leading the South Gloucestershire Music Hub, Arts Council England’s preferred provider of Music Hub activities in South Gloucestershire. Always regarded as a minor risk organisation it provided teaching and ensemble activities to over 4000 children a week and many ensembles achieved national recognition at the Music for Youth Proms and National Festival. From 2005 to 2011 I was National Specialist Coordinator for Performing Arts and Music at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust effectively a national adviser on arts education contributing to many national initiatives e.g. Music Manifesto, Musical Futures, Henley Review of Music Education, and Building Schools for the Future. I also provided curriculum support and professional development to over 600 schools in England and in 2010 gave a keynote speech on Music Education in the UK at Gifu University in Japan. The bulk of my teaching career was at Richmond School in North Yorkshire where I led a highly successful Music Department with over 300 students a week learning musical instruments and large classes at GCSE and A level. I commissioned a number of works for School Wind Band by composers such as Bill Connor, Adam Gorb and Philip Wilby and developed UK and Worldwide commissioning networks to commission works by Christopher Marshall and Marco Putz. As an adjudicator I have worked throughout the UK, in the Netherlands, Australia and the USA and Canada. In retirement I am a Trustee of the Music Education Council ,Independent Chair of the Music Hubs in Somerset and Torbay , and a doctoral student at the University of the West of England.

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