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Music educators concerned about the spread of COVID-19 while singing

UW-Stevens Point at Wausau concert choir students  practice 'They Can't Take That Away From...
UW-Stevens Point at Wausau concert choir students practice 'They Can't Take That Away From Me’ for their singing Valentines on Feb.10, 2020. (WSAW Photo)(WSAW)
Published: May. 21, 2020 at 3:19 PM CDT
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Many school systems plan a return to in-person instruction this fall but it may depend on the subject matter being taught. Take music, for instance.

You may have read about recent choral rehearsals around the country that helped to spread the coronavirus. The issue is now hitting home with Alabama music educators.

“Music is part of a human being’s soul,” said Tallassee High School Choral Director Kelley Hill.

Hill says she’s concerned about what future choral rehearsals will look like at her school.​​

Like many teachers, she says music is important to a child’s education for both academic and social reasons.

​​"It’s scientific. It has history behind it. It’s mathematical," she explained. “But overarchingly, it’s about the community we all make, and that we are a part of when we join the band or choir.”

​​That’s why musicians statewide are concerned that the coronavirus appears to spread more easily among people who are singing or playing musical instruments.​​

“With singing, you’re breathing more deeply and you’re pushing air out to create sound. And it can go further,” Hill explained.​​

The

met online this week with state school superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey. During the meeting, Mackey said that it’s too soon to know how music instruction might change in the future.

“We know that it will be limited,” he said. “Whether it’s limited in number (groups of 10, 12 or 15 or whatever) or it’s limited in space (no more than a certain number of children per square foot.)”​​

Music educators say they hope that they won’t be limited to virtual gatherings. They say making music is a social activity.​​"There’s something you get from being part of an ensemble," said Hill.

“There’s a feeling you get within that community that you are all working to make this beautiful music. And doing it online is just not the same.”

​​It is possible that marching bands would see fewer restrictions since they can practice outdoors with adequate space between players. But the education department is still working on its statewide recommendations, which likely won’t be finalized until the start of the next school year.

​You can watch the online meeting with Dr. Mackey on the Alabama Music Educators Association’s

.

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