It was Easter Sunday morning. I was having a shave as the radio played in the background. I was only half listening to it. Suddenly my ears pricked up. A senior churchman was being interviewed. He was talking about Easter and the tradition of church choirs being part of the celebrations. The words that caught my attention were something like: ‘… and singing has been demonised, throughout this pandemic…’ I thought that seemed a bit strong. It was upsetting (and for some, damaging) in lots of ways, that we hadn’t been allowed to get together to sing, but – ‘singing demonised’?
It turned out that a piece of research that had been carried out had shown that, after all, singing doesn’t produce substantially more respiratory particles than speaking at the same volume. Apparently the finding applied whether the singing was choral, musical theatre, opera, jazz, gospel, rock or pop. In other words, singing is not as dangerous as originally thought. To be honest, it doesn’t sound earth shattering does it. What it means though is that, singing – live music – should no longer to be seen as an inherently dangerous activity in itself. It can be placed on a par with other group activities.
The research (which was carried out by a team from Imperial College, London, University of Bristol and several NHS hospital trusts) was supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well as by Public Health England. Oliver Dowden, the Government’s Culture Secretary, has been quoted as saying that the study shows there are no heightened risks associated with singing and playing music. I guess that must mean that the Government’s COVID-19 guidance on singing is being updated. That’s good news.
Of course, what it doesn’t mean is that The Musicality Singers can get together straight away. There are still the same issues that surround all group activities: COVID infection rates, vaccine roll out and so on. It does mean, though, that we can now be part of the opening up of our communities, part of the ‘road map’. We’ll no longer be left behind, no longer at the back of the queue. It will be a few months down the road, but we will be able to sing together again before too much longer. And when we do, we’ll able to do it with more confidence that we are not an especially dangerous gathering.
Until then, stay safe everyone and start looking forward to the safe return of live music.