On behalf of the American Choral Directors Association Hawaiʻi Chapter and the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, we offer our aloha and send forth our gratitude for keeping our spiritual communities engaged and connected during this challenging time.
We write with urgency. While the Mayor of Honolulu has announced that spiritual communities may resume gathering on Saturday, 5/23/2020, we strongly advise against congregational singing at this time.
The process of singing and speaking creates aerosols, or droplets, that hang and travel in the air and are easily inhaled. Noting that the World Health Organization states that the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets, singing can be a catalyst for COVID-19 transmission. Singing also requires deep breathing, allowing aerosols to travel deeper into the lungs.
Compared to Silent Breathing: - Talking produces about 10x more aerosols - Singing produces about 60x more aerosols
On Cloth Face Coverings and Singing: - While cloth face coverings block larger droplets from escaping the wearer's mouth and nose, the covering is less effective at protecting the wearer from inhaling droplets not produced by the wearer and is significantly less effective at blocking fine-particle aerosols for the wearer and others in the area.
The Bottom Line: Though the city of Honolulu has allowed for spiritual services to resume starting Saturday, 5/23/2020, conclusions of studies about the nature of singing as it relates to COVID-19 strongly recommend against congregational singing at this time. However, we do note that data around the safety of singing and our collective response to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving.
Potential Solutions: - Creating live music from the piano, organ, electronic keyboard, string instruments, and percussion instruments pose minimal risk, provided that musicians practice social distancing. - Listening to music recorded by musicians who are members of your community of faith living in the same household. - Encouraging congregants to sing, at home, music that celebrates your respective faith. Communities can also send hymnals or song books as PDFs pending copyright licensure.
We are aware that the current literature around congregational singing is not ideal at this time. However, as pedagogues and practitioners of singing, it is our responsibility to ensure that our musical communities are kept safe and are aware of the available scholarship. Therefore, it is our professional recommendation that communities of faith temporarily set aside congregational singing during spiritual gatherings, for the safety of us all. As the scholarship changes and evolves, we will ensure that we will keep our communities of faith in Hawaiʻi updated.
Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan
President-Elect, American Choral Directors Association Hawaiʻi Chapter
Director of Choral Activities, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Alec Schumacher
President, American Choral Directors Association Hawaiʻi Chapter
Director of Choral Activities, Hawaiʻi Pacific University
Dr. Martina Bingham
President, National Association of Teachers of Singing Hawaiʻi Chapter
Lecturer of Voice, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
References “A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing,” National Association of Teachers of Singing https://nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/_article.html/Featured_Stories_/NATS_COVID_Resources_Page
Asadi, et al. “The coronavirus pandemic and aerosols: Does COVID-19 transmit via expiratory particles?” Aerosol Science and Technology. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02786826.2020.1749229
Baron, Paul. “Generation and Behavior of Airborne Particles (Aerosols).” Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aerosols/pdfs/Aerosol_101.pdf
Nelson, Heather, Ph.D. “Singing and COVID-19: A Caution for Moving Forward in our Current Pandemic.” (church music director, vocologist, voice teacher) https://www.drheathernelson.com/singingandcovid19
SAVE THE DATE
HI-ACDA will sponsor a webinar on singing and worship during the time of COVID-19 on June 1st, 5pm. More information coming soon via email.