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Singers, choral conductors, and voice teachers face unique questions while planning a return from quarantine

Voice teachers and singers are facing an avalanche of questions while planning how to return to “normal operations” as restrictions ease from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Singers generally expel more breath and saliva than normal talkers, so are their social distancing requirements different than most? If public health officials require six feet of separation at all times, how does a choir practice and perform? If voice lessons have to be done remotely, how can tone and pitch be properly evaluated via an internet connection?

Georgia Southern students perform during the Armstrong Campus Chamber Concert on Feb. 25, 2020.

These are just some of the dilemmas facing voice teachers and music professors.

“We are highly concerned in the arts related to how we deal with teaching when we return to campuses, classrooms and studios, particularly with singing,” said Allen Henderson, executive director of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and professor of voice at Georgia Southern University. “Singers are what we might call super-emitters — in terms of what is expelled in a breath. What kind of precautions do we need to take?”

To help start answering such questions, Henderson and NATS organized a webinar called “A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near-Term Future of Singing?” It is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, at 5 p.m.

He said within 24 hours of the webinar’s announcement, more than 2,000 people had signed up.

“I was able to secure one of the major researchers on aerosolization of viruses,” Henderson said. “I suspect there will be a lot of higher education arts administrators in attendance and the information shared will be used widely in formulating responses to the unique problems of teaching music when reopening occurs.”

Henderson noted that when the country shut down, the process was fairly quick and uniform. As organizations such as universities make plans to return to ‘normal’ operations, leaders will likely have to develop their own plans unique to their settings.

“It will be complicated, and it’s about what protocols institutions and individuals have in place in regard to testing and contact tracing so that there’s a sense that we are creating as safe an environment as possible,” Henderson said. “Our job is to arm our colleagues with the best possible science-based information we can.”

To learn more about the upcoming webinar, go to:

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 26,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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