Recommendation and Ideas for Singing in Church
The Conference Staff has been closely following the information and warnings concerning the high risk of singing within faith communities. The ministry of music through choirs, ensembles, congregational singing, and praise and worship teams is a foundational part of our corporate worship experience. Connectional Ministries hosted a Zoom @ Noon with over 50 music leaders across our Conference to share the warnings and discuss creative alternatives and options.
On May 5, an expert panel assembled by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, the Barbershop Harmony Society, and the Performing Arts Medical Association (PAMA) laid out a sobering vision for the future of public singing in America, which would include choirs/congregational singing. The full webinar can be viewed here.
This group concluded that there is no safe way for singers to sing or rehearse together until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment in place. In light of this and the fact that data shows singing to be a “super spreader,” the Bishop and Cabinet acknowledge the following: singing is among the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading droplets/aerosols which can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air. A cloth mask is unlikely to be enough to protect you or your neighbor.
The NATS has produced a follow-up webinar that outlines promising projects and technologies that can keep us connected and singing. This Zoom webinar, Singing: What We CAN Do (and stay safe), will help congregations and music leaders explore alternatives for their worship services.
As churches are planning for their “rolling restarts,” here are some considerations:
Consider not singing in the sanctuary when the congregation is gathered. Singing in a confined space, like a sanctuary or worship center, is one of the most likely methods by which the COVID-19 virus can be spread.
A number of churches are planning outdoor worship with social distancing among all who attend. If done properly this may provide a way for some forms of music to be used. However, consult your local health authorities to discuss best practices for keeping singers at a safe distance from the congregation.
Consider suspending choir practices as forceful breathing and exhaling can expel the virus further if someone is infected.
Consider having soloists, song leaders, etc. lead singing from the back of the chancel area or a designated area putting the greatest distance between them and the congregation.
Consider alternatives to congregational singing, including pre-recorded solos and video projection or live instrumental music (e.g. pianos and guitars - no wind instruments) during services.
Churches should begin to think very carefully and creatively, especially when it comes to special events, Christmas, etc.
An important goal for decisions around the inclusion of singing during worship would be to mitigate the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission during church activities and to be able to adapt and adjust church activities as COVID-19 infection in the community waxes and wanes.
We will continue to monitor the research, findings, and recommendations from the experts in the field.
ZOOM @ NOON - The Risk of Singing: What This Means For Our Churches
The latest studies released concerning the risk of singing call for significant changes in our churches and music ministry. On this Zoom held Wednesday, May 13, we began the conversation and brainstorm creative ideas churches can use to incorporate music and hymns into worship safely. WATCH RECORDING
On May 5th, an expert panel assembled by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, the Barbershop Harmony Society, and the Performing Arts Medical Association (PAMA) laid out a sobering vision for the future of public singing in America. During the panel, Dr. Lucinda Halstead, the president of the Performing Arts Medical Association and the Medical Director of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of South Carolina, concluded that there is no safe way for singers to rehearse together until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment in place, in her estimates at least 18-24 months away. (Read more)
With this new information, the community of faith is now grappling with what this means for worship services and singing in public spaces. A lot remains unanswered about what this will look like and for how long.
In the meantime here are some helpful articles/webinars to help you understand more about this new information and the recommendations around singing:
Zoom Webinar: Singing: What We CAN Do (and stay safe): NATS panel of leaders share promising projects and technologies that keep us connected and singing. Their goal shares inspiration, vision, and creative, practical solutions for our field.