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.” (https://www.colorado.edu/even/people/shelly-miller)

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:

Co-Chairs
-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 mspede@clemson.edu
James Weaver jweaver@nfhs.org