Aug 12 2020

Second Round of Performing Arts Aerosol Study Produces Encouraging Preliminary Results

Over 125 organizations have pledged their support and donated time and resources to find ways to reduce the risk of returning to rehearsals and performances for music, speech, debate, theatre, academic, and aerobic activities. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland are over one month into a six-month study.

The study, commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and a coalition of more than 125 performing arts organizations, including the National Music Council, has generated a second set of preliminary results that provides further optimism for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on performing arts activities.

Preceded by initial results released on July 13 that centered on aerosol pathways from a soprano singer and subjects playing four different musical instruments, the second phase of experimentation investigated aerosol from additional singers and instruments, as well as theatre performers. A final report, which will incorporate more testing on the aforementioned areas along with speech and debate activities and an aerobic simulation, is expected with the completion of the study in December.

“The goal of this study from the beginning was to identify the issues of aerosol production in performing arts activities, and to find a way forward so these activities will survive the pandemic,” said study co-chair Dr. Mark Spede, CBDNA President and Clemson University director of bands. “We are identifying ways performing arts participants can meet in person with the lowest risk possible.”Powered by research teams at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland, the study’s second round of findings is highlighted by five principal takeaways related to masks, distance, time, air flow and hygiene with the goal of creating the safest possible environment for bringing performing arts back into classrooms, band rooms, rehearsal spaces, performance halls and on athletic fields.

The most recent findings for performing arts participants in music, band, choir, speech and theatre reinforced the masking measures from the original study results. Those results found that affixing masks to participants and applying bell cover “masks” to musical instruments significantly reduced the range of aerosol particle emissions.

Personal masks should be well-fitting, multi-layered, washable or disposable, and surgical in style. Ideally, bell covers should be made of non-stretchy material that has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 – a rating known to protect against cough and sneeze, bacteria and virus particles. However, any type of covering is better than nothing.

Long-established social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (6 feet by 6 feet) should be applied at all times, with additional space (9 feet by 6 feet) allocated to accommodate trombone players. Masks can be optional but are strongly recommended while performing or rehearsing outdoors; instrument bell covers, however, should be used in all settings.

Study statistics indicate limiting rehearsal times to 30 minutes or less significantly reduces the quantity and spread of aerosol among the individuals involved. Following an indoor rehearsal, activities leaders should wait until at least one HVAC air change has occurred prior to using the same room again although three air changes is the goal. Outdoors, playing should stop for approximately five minutes after each 30-minute segment to allow the aerosol to disperse.

As can be expected, optimal air flow is achieved during outdoor rehearsals. For programs looking to use tents as a means of sheltering performers outdoors, open-air tents – those with high rooftops and without walls – should be employed. HEPA filters are strongly recommended to increase the amount of clean air and the number of air changes per hour for indoor rehearsals.

Additional guidance can be found on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-
Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) website:

Finally, the second round of results places a strong emphasis on hygiene. In addition to basic hygienic measures like keeping common areas sanitized and encouraging frequent handwashing, it is recommended that instrument spit valves be emptied onto absorbent sheets such as puppy pads rather than directly onto the floor.

While several months of research remain ahead for the aerosol study, co- chair Dr. James Weaver, NFHS Director of Performing Arts and Sports, believes the preliminary findings and subsequent recommendations have already made a great impact on the feasibility of conducting performing arts activities in the near future.

“We know there are elevated aerosol productions that exist in performing arts activities,” Weaver said. “We feel strongly that the performing arts field is committed to the safety and well-being of all students, with a clear desire to understand what happens when
instruments are played, or people engage in singing, theatre or other expressive artistic experiences. We are beginning to understand what steps can be taken to mitigate concerns and allow students to engage in the many life- affirming experiences that are central to the arts.”

The National Music Council is proud to have been one of the sponsoring organizations of the study and recognizes NMC members NAMM, National Federation of High Schools, College Band Directors National Association, Country Music Association Foundation, Music Teachers National Association, Music Publishers Association of the US, National Association for Music Education, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, and Songwriters Guild of America for their generous support of the project.

To learn more about the researchers and contributors, view past preliminary results and browse additional resources related to the aerosol study, please visit:

Aug 11 2020

National Music Council’s Summer 2020 Newsletter

Over 125 organizations have pledged their support and donated time and resources to find ways to reduce the risk of returning to rehearsals and performances for music, speech, debate, theatre, academic, and aerobic activities. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland are over one month into a six-month study.

Aug 06 2020

Protecting the Lives of Music Creators Throughout the World

August 7, 2020. NEW YORK CITY. The member organizations of the National Music Council of the United States, an alliance representing over a million music professionals and supporters across the United States, wish to express both their grief and their continuing deep concern over the murder last month of celebrated Ethiopian singer-songwriter Hachalu Hundessa. Tragically, hundreds more Ethiopians have been killed or injured in the violent protest events that followed the murder. The National Music Council appreciates that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has offered condolences, and assurances that a vigorous investigation is ongoing. Our hope is that this effort will be carried out transparently, providing foreign embassies the opportunity to closely monitor developments.

Through his music, Hundassa was an outspoken critic of the unequal treatment of Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromo minority, of which both he and the Prime Minister were and are members. And like other artists and songwriters before him, including revered Chilean folk singer and composer Victor Jara who was murdered by the Pinochet Junta a half-century ago, there is a distinct possibility that Hundassa was targeted because of his political influence as a music creator. We are optimistic that a thorough, independent investigation will uncover the reasons for this brutal crime, and that constructive suggestions for how bloodshed can be avoided in the future will be acted upon.

Political violence against singers, writers, journalists and other creators is on the rise in general throughout the world. The National Music Council joins the rest of the global community of music creators in condemning and demanding an immediate end to this viciously, anti-democratic trend, and will be petitioning governments to take immediate action in pursuit of that goal on an international basis.

The National Music Council and International Music Council also join the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed (2013) in the following statement: “All persons enjoy the right to freedom of artistic expressions and creativity…as well as the right of artists to dissent, to use political, religious and economic symbols as a counter-discourse to dominant powers, and to express their own belief and world vision.”

Jul 14 2020

Preliminary Results of Performing Arts Aerosol Study Begins to Find Hope for Music Activities in the Future Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

In May, the NFHS, CBDNA and a coalition of over 125 performing arts organizations commissioned a study on aerosol rates produced by activities in music, speech, debate and theatre. Over the last month, researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Maryland have been hard at work gathering preliminary results.

Disclaimer: All information provided through the study is to be used strictly for general consideration. This information will be updated when it becomes available, please share the link to this webpage instead of the PDF document.

Jul 09 2020

International Music Council COVID-19 Resource Center

The list below is non-exhaustive and will be updated regurlarly. It contains measures from governments and other policy-makers and initiatives from the sector. IMC is collecting data from the global music ecosystem with this survey. Feel free to participate and share it with colleagues.

Jun 28 2020

National Music Council Joins 95 Other National Organizations to Support Arts Education as Essential for Students during COVID-19 Pandemic

As policymakers plan for school reopening in the fall, the National Music Council (NMC) has joined 95 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.

In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally underrepresented groups, as students return to school next year.

“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, an area that administrators, educators, and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school, whether in-person, online, or in a blended fashion, this fall. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents, and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.

The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools.

“The tragedy of the COViD-19 pandemic is a disturbing reality for students across the nation,” stated NMC Chair Charles J. Sanders. “The stresses it is placing not only on the students, but on the education system itself, are profound. But this is also a time when the importance of music and arts education truly shines through, easing young minds and raising spirits with assurances that only the arts can provide. That is the principle we aim to demonstrate, and the one that we will champion.”

NMC member NAfME has been helping music educators prepare for the return to school in the fall. Advocacy and support efforts include:

1.     A “Music Education and Social-Emotional Learning” brochure, outlining how music education can support quality social-emotional learning outcomes for students.

2.     Instrument hygiene guidelines in partnership with the NAMM Foundation and the National Federation of State High School Associations, explaining how instruments can be safely returned and cleaned for use next school year.

3.     Dozens of high-quality professional development webinars, featuring ways in which to teach music successfully in a virtual setting, as well as additional resources to support standards-based music instruction.

4.     A public advocacy campaign to support federal funds to backfill state education budget shortfalls. More than 10,000 letters have been sent to Congress, urging our lawmakers to support public education.

5.     A forthcoming guide to school reopening plans, featuring how music can be taught safely and effectively to students both in-person and virtually next school year.

The music and arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for music educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, music and arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.

To add your voice to this statement, your organization can sign on to the statement by emailing

Click here to view signing organizations to date

Jun 14 2020

COVID 19 Related Research Studies for Instrument Contamination Hygiene and Aerosol

Click here to access a collection of articles and studies relating to COVID-19 that pertain to the study that our international coalition has commissioned:

May 23 2020

IMC ResiliArt: 5 Music Rights – More than Ever!

Paris 21 May 2020

The experience of music and music-making is a vital part of the everyday life of all people. It is a basic right for all people to express themselves and communicate through music.

In its holistic approach to music as an ecosystem, the International Music Council considers music as an art form, as a product and as a tool. We acknowledge the intrinsic value of music, enriching and inspiring those who engage in it. As an art form, music has contributed and continues to contribute immensely to the world’s legacy, building a rich heritage that preserves and celebrates the diversity of our cultural identities. Music can also serve as a tool that promotes individual development and brings change to many levels of society: it is a formidable unifier of people, a natural vehicle for social engagement and inclusion and a powerful agent for democratic values. Finally, music is involved in a variety of products that contribute to domestic and international trade, economic growth and job creation.

In all of its manifestations, music is a tremendously precious resource for humanity.

To promote access to music for all and the value of music in the lives of all people is the declared mission of the International Music Council. Our values are embedded in the:

How can we make sure that these rights continue to be respected during and in the aftermath of crisis? Which challenges can be identified for each Right? What needs to be done to overcome them?

To ensure that every child and adult and every musical artist can continue enjoying their rights today, tomorrow and the decades ahead.

We have invited our Music Rights Champions Arn Chorn-Pond (Cambodia), Ramy Essam (Egypt), Dame Evelyn Glennie (United Kingdom) and Tabu Osusa (Kenya) to offer their views on these questions and discuss with the UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture, Mr. Ernesto Ottone R., possible avenues to efficiently advocate for cultural policies and funding mechanisms that put our shared values in the heart of the COVID-19 response. IMC President Alfons Karabuda will moderate the debate.

ResiliArt is a global movement initiated by UNESCO that aims to strengthen the resilience of artists and cultural professionals in the face of the enormous challenges posed by the current health crisis.

The IMC debate is our reply to UNESCO’s invitation to start a dialogue about the matter in our field and our community and we hope you will join us on IMC Facebook page on May 27th at 11:30 CEST.

May 20 2020

Music Covid Relief is a resource brought to you by partners in the U.S. Music Community to help music professionals access information and applications to receive benefits made available by the CARES Act (Phase III of the Coronavirus Stimulus bill signed into law March 27, 2020) and the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” signed into law on April 24, 2020.

May 20 2020

Unprecedented International Coalition led by US Performing Arts Organizations to Commission COVID-19 Study

By Chairs, Mark Spede (CBDNA) and James Weaver (NFHS) on May 18, 2020 music directors & adjudicators article.

The National Music Council and a number of performing arts organizations have joined forces to commission a study on the effects of COVID-19 on the return to the rehearsal hall. It is important to understand what risks exist in performing arts classrooms and performance venues.  Specifically, the study will examine aerosol rates produced by wind instrumentalists, vocalists, and even actors, and how quickly those aerosol rates accumulate in a space. Although not yet proven, strong anecdotal evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus can travel in the microscopic droplets expelled from a person with the virus, even when asymptomatic. The only way to determine what risk level exists or to create best practices for reducing infection risk is to understand how aerosol disbursement works in a performing arts setting.

Once the aerosol rates are better understood, the study will focus on remediation of aerosols in confined spaces like rehearsal rooms (both educational and professional), classrooms, and performance settings in order to develop better understanding, policy, and practice for a safe returning to performance and education.

Dr. Shelly Miller at the University of Colorado will lead the scientific study and says, “Aerosol generating activities have the potential to transmit COVID as the research shows, but we have very little data on what kinds of generation happen when playing instruments.  We will be studying this phenomenon (hopefully with funding) in our aerosol laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder and with this data, will be able to provide better evidence-based guidance.” (

Several national and international performing arts education organizations are combining resources to study the effects of COVID-19 aerosol transmission in performing arts performance settings. The study is a massive undertaking that will require a focused effort from all of us. This effort will be a duplicated study and will test how aerosols can spread from brass and woodwind instruments, the four vocal ranges, theatrical speech, and aerobic breathing. We are calling on any performing arts educational organization to join our research council.  Your organizational support is the most important, we also ask for your financial assistance, as these scientific research studies are labor and financially intensive. Together we can create scientifically proven methods for our return to performing arts education in a safe way with research showing us best practices and advocacy.

The coalition is being led by a committee made up of the following:

-Mark Spede, President of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and Director of Bands, Clemson University
-James Weaver, Director of Performing Arts and Sports, National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The organizations in the coalition to date include:

*College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA)
*National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
American Bandmasters Association (ABA)
American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)
Athletes and the Arts
Association Européenne des Conservatoires/Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC)
Barbershop Harmony Society
College Music Society (CMS)
College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA)
Drum Corps International (DCI)
*Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
High School Directors National Association (HSBDNA)
International Conductors Guild
International Music Council
International Society for Music Education
Kappa Kappa Psi
MidWest Clinic
Minority Band Directors National Association
Music for All
Musical America Worldwide
National Association for Music Education (NAfME)
*National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM)
National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
National Band Association (NBA)
National Music Council of the US
National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA)
New York State Band Directors Association
Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE)
Percussive Arts Society (PAS)
Sweet Adelines International (SAI)
Tau Beta Sigma

Collegiate Conference Band Associations:

*ACC Band Directors Association
*Big 12 Band Directors Association
*Big 10 Band Directors Association
PAC 12 Band Directors Association

* Organizations have provided financial support
(Updated as of 5/18/20 at 3:30pm)

For more information or questions contact:
Mark Spede
James Weaver