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Music Performance: COVID-19 - A Guide


Your guide to changes in music performance at Royal Holloway

Overview

Royal Holloway University of London is open with social distancing measures in place for individual music-making, one-to-one teaching and opportunities for students to receive world-class performance opportunities.

The health and wellbeing of our community is our top priority and protective measures have been put in place to help ensure the safest possible use of the building at this time. This includes requiring all staff and students to wear facemasks on campus. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

We expect a wide range of College facilities to be operational by September 2020. Our focus will be on providing space for music-making activities on campus and a blend of in-person and digital delivery of as many activities as possible. To support this, we are planning a flexible curriculum for the autumn that will enable students to benefit from our world-leading teaching and facilities while keeping safe, as well as taking advantage of our digital learning environment.

From September, we will be resuming our performance programme with social distancing measures in place. We will facilitate student music-making both with classmates and the roster of celebrated visiting artists who will be coming to the College to work with us. The programme includes a wide range of solo and chamber music, with the hope of moving to large group, festivals and public events from the spring (circumstances dependent).  

Some of these projects will use blended approaches with both live and digital interaction, harnessing all the additional benefits that online resources can bring. Our autumn international concert season will include specially commissioned films and an expanded programme of streaming and recording to share our performances, student opportunities and other activities with global audiences.  

From January 2021, dependent on Government, industry and College advice, we are planning to reintroduce more face-to-face and group activity onsite, except where we think digital delivery is better for students and staff alike.  

Royal Holloway is a highly creative and adaptable community of exceptional students, professors and staff. 

To see how the Royal Holloway arts community has pulled together to create music remotely follow #FestInterrupted or #RHULConcerts on social media.  

Please scroll through the following important guidelines to learn more about what the College and the Department of Music are doing to ensure the safety of its students and staff;

Health & Safety Principles

There are three strands to our College-wide response for a safe campus for all:

  • Hygiene. Coronavirus (Covid-19) can be spread through touching contaminated surfaces and then the face. To break this chain, the surfaces must not become contaminated and if they are, individuals must not touch them and then their face.
  • Social distancing. Most cold and flu-like diseases are spread in part through airborne droplets. Social distancing is a means of reducing this spread. It also serves to reduce the number of people present and so the overall risk.
  • Wellbeing and mental health. These are challenging times for most people and so additional support for mental health and managing stress is more important than ever.

The Executive Board has set College-wide controls to meet these aims. This includes College policies and processes applicable to all students, staff and visitors.

Under these top-level controls, each school, department or building will complete a detailed risk assessment to ensure that these principles are met in their area. This could involve a range of measures that could include staggering start times, implementing one-way systems, and reconfiguring offices.

These risk assessments are being reviewed by the Health and Safety Office prior to re-opening. 


The final part is the individual responsibility that every student and member of staff has to comply with the controls and not attend campus if they are unwell.

Taking responsibility

Group

Responsibility

College Executive Board

  • Set overall principles and whole College controls.

Departments

  • Apply principles and controls as required
  • Review reasonable adjustments for disabled colleagues

Individuals

  • Comply with the College controls – washing hands, using face coverings, not coming to campus unless required.
  • Self-isolate and request testing if experiencing any symptoms.

 

 A breakdown of the three strands:

 

Hygiene

Social distancing

Wellbeing and mental health

We encourage you to wash your hands and hand sanitisers are available outside the main buildings across campus

Teaching spaces and offices will all have their own individual maximum occupancies and the number of staff working on campus has been reduced

Our Student Advisory and Wellbeing team are available to support you online and digitally

We encourage students and staff to wear face coverings on campus

Clear signage located across campus to provide you with guidance

A full list of our student wellbeing digital and online services can be found on the student intranet

We are regularly cleaning touch points across campus e.g. door handles

There is additional car parking available to allow for more students and staff to travel to campus by car

A range of guidance and support on studying online is available to on the student intranet

Face Coverings

Government advice

The guidance makes a clear distinction between Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings. The former is a control measure specified within a risk assessment; such items are required to meet a defined standard. PPE must not be used to control the risk from Covid-19 outside of clinical settings. A face covering is any form of cloth that covers the ‘mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably’. 

Face coverings may be ‘marginally beneficial’ in ‘some circumstances’, although they do not offer protection to the user but instead help reduce the spread of infection. This ignores the psychological aspect that wearing a face covering will have for some students and staff. The perception of the College, and our values, based on our position must also be considered. This is particularly important for our students from countries where face coverings are commonly used. 

Finally, the guidance states that the face coverings should be supported if employees chose to wear them. There is a list of information that should be provided to staff about the safe way to use face coverings. This has been included at the bottom of this section. A key point is that face coverings should be washed each day; practically this means each person will require a minimum of two. 

College Position

Within the sector there have been three positions discussed with reference to face coverings, broadly to: mandate, encourage, or allow. It is recommended that Royal Holloway actively encourages their use, including a suitable campaign by Marketing and Communications, supported by clear visible leadership and aligned to the support that Human Resources (HR) will provide around the return to campus. In terms of health and safety, if something is mandated then it must occur; supervision is required to ensure compliance and there must be sanctions for non-compliance. This would be a difficult to manage in this case and would result in numerous issues with few benefits. Likewise, to only allow the use of face coverings, without encouraging them, does not address the perception and psychological benefits of their use. 

The College will provide 2 reusable face covering to every member of staff and student at no charge. 

Information to be provided to staff and students on face coverings

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it; 
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands; 
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it; 
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly; 
  • Change and wash your face covering daily; 
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste; 
  • And practise social distancing wherever possible.


Changes to live performance

Overview

Live performance is at the core of our provision at the Department of Music and we are ensuring that our world-class performance opportunities for students and International Concert Series for you and the wider community is still at the heart of our activities for the coming year, with a few alterations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of you:

  • From September 2020, we will be resuming the majority of our performance programme with social distancing measures in place, prioritising the health and wellbeing of our community at all times. The programme will initially focus on solo and chamber performances, broadening out to larger group music making, festivals and side-by-side opportunities as the academic year progresses.
  • We have found ways to facilitate student music-making both with classmates and the roster of celebrated visiting artists who will be coming to the College to work with us.
  • Visiting artists for 2020/21 include the Tippett Quartet, CHROMA Ensemble, Fidelio Trio, violist Shiry Rashkovsky, oboist Olivier Stankiewicz and jazz musicians Matthew Herd and Tom Taylor. 
  • Many of our upcoming projects will use blended approaches with both live and digital interacting, harnessing all the additional benefits online resources can bring.
  • Our autumn international concert season will include specially commissioned films based on a wide variety of genres and specialisms at Royal Holloway, including two events in partnership with our 2020-21 concert partners, the Young Classical Artists Trust, Contemporary Music for All and Chamber Music on Valentia, plus an expanded programme of streaming and recording to share our performances, masterclasses and other activities with global audiences.

Public Events

We are naturally having to look at our public facing events for the coming year as a College, therefore, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students, staff and our wider community we are implementing the following steps: 

  • Public facing events will be ‘digital first’ between now and 17 January 2021;
  • There will be no public tickets for events on campus until 17 January 2021, where our public facing provision will be revisited in line with Government and College advice;
  • Events normally accessible to a public audience may be live streamed or pre-recorded and any such event will have a pre-planned on campus location, where possible;
  • Student recruitment events will operate according to this plan, where attendees will be coming to campus by ‘invitation’ and will be required to pre-register as usual;
  • Regular religious services and commercial events are not within the scope of this plan.


Changes to music practice 

Bearing all of the above in mind, below are some points particular to the practice and rehearsal of your voice/instrument for the foreseeable future.  Much of this will be familiar to you as you follow guidelines on campus in general and in the Music Department. Rehearsals, and any kind of performance, will have to be adapted to include fewer performers, be limited in duration with breaks, and with relevant adherence to social distancing. As an additional precaution to mitigate against these risks, stricter adherence to cleaning guidelines and face coverings is recommended. Most of these guidelines rely on the individual’s responsibility of each participant to adhere to these guidelines at all times.

Solo instrumental practice and rehearsal

Organisation

  • Booking of practice rooms to be made online via Resource Booker to ensure “contact-free” bookings. Facilities staff to patrol the building to ensure the correct use of practice rooms.
  • Each room will be equipped with a shared keyboard cleaning kit (where applicable) and a clear Perspex partition screen (dimensions: 1800mm x 1000m).
  • Try as much as possible to use rooms designated for single occupancy. Please refer to separate Social Distancing – Room Capacities document for more information. Room capacities will also be displayed in each room. 
  • If possible, please ensure the space you are using is well ventilated by opening a window for fresh air.

Equipment

  • Bring your own music stand and only use your own music and equipment.
  • In order to ensure flexible and safe music practice, there will be no music stands available in any of our rehearsal and teaching spaces.  The Department of Music can provide a portable music stand for first-study instrumentalists and singers (excluding piano/organ) to those enrolled onto one or more of these courses: MU1118, MU2205, MU2210, MU3407, MU3393, MU5535, MU5509, MU5539 or you can bring your own personal music stand.
  • Second study instrumentalists/vocalists will be required to bring their own stand for Department ensemble activity in which they might be taking part.  If you foresee an issue with this, please do get in touch with nathanjames.dearden@rhul.ac.uk as soon as possible.
  • Number of chairs and stands in each room limited with all excess stands and chairs removed.
  • All spaces with a shared keyboard instrument to be equipped with a keyboard cleaning kit for individual’s present in a space to clean the keyboard responsibly. Guidelines outlining the process will be included in each kit. 

Further measures

  • Strict handwashing policy in operation upon entering the College, with signage and clear one-way system to direct people to facilities (where applicable).
  • Wind and Brass instruments – ensure you have your own cloth to soak up any condensate and take away with you after use. 

For full information about the use of one of our practice spaces for solo instrumental rehearsal, please read thoroughly the following risk assessments: RA – MUPerf01: Small practice rooms and RA – MUPerf07: Using shared instruments and musical equipment.  

Small music group activity (2-8 people)

Please refer to the guidelines above, plus consideration of social distancing measures. These will be outlined in each suitable rehearsal space. 

The below are guidelines for student-led ensembles, for staff-led ensembles, and for any ad hoc group music practice or rehearsal with 2 – 8 people. Please note the conductor, group leader or nominated representative will be responsible for the organisation of the following guidance, overseeing the guidance within a space and enacting the guidance (please also see page 43):

Organisation

  • One member of each ensemble will have responsibility to ensure that they fully understand and implement the guidelines and that these are shared with and understood by each member
  • The designated member will be responsible for reporting to the Performance Manager the membership of the ensemble as soon as fixed and outline the Room Bookings procedures. 
  • Booking of practice rooms to be made online via Resource Booker to ensure “contact-free” bookings. Facilities staff to patrol the building to ensure the correct use of practice rooms.
  • All rooms in Woodlands, Woodlands Cottage and Engineers Cottage will have 3 metre markings on the floor and drawings suggesting the layout and capacities, dependent on the make-up of your ensemble (instrumental/vocal/mixed).  3 metres should be aimed for and certainly no less than 2m for singing, wind and brass. Varying social distancing mappings will be displayed in each practice and rehearsal space. 
  • Chairs (if needed) should be laid out in advance of the rehearsal by the designated member. 
  • If there is a conductor they must stand a minimum of 3 metres from the nearest singer/wind/brass instrument.
  • The designated manager will aim to ensure ventilation of spaces as detailed below, that any keyboards and screens that have been used have been cleaned before vacating the space.
  • Most of these guidelines rely on the individual responsibility of each member to adhere to these guidelines at all times.
  • Any ensemble member with symptoms of COVID-19 must not take part and must follow the general college advice to remain at their residence. If they have participated in rehearsals with a group in the last seven days, they should also follow College procedures.

Spacing

  • There must be no face-to-face performance and should be side-by-side or in a semicircle.
  • If a second row is required they should be at least 2 metres behind the front row and placed carefully so as not to be projecting directly into the head of the person in front.
  • Be careful to maintain social distancing around crowded areas like doorways and not to congregate between sessions.
  • Face mask are encouraged to be worn when moving between your assigned space and another other of the space and/or building. 
  • Clear signage will be posted in each space on best practice for positioning of musicians, where the room is needed for more than one individual.  

Duration

  • No rehearsal session should last longer than 1-hour before taking a break of a minimum of 15 minutes.

Ventilation

  • Ensure that the space you are performing in is as well ventilated as possible with doors and windows fixed open where possible.
  • During a break, air must be allowed to circulate in the room.
  • When a room is being ventilated during a break, there should be no individual remaining in the room. However someone should remain within sight of the room for security purposes.

Equipment

  • No personal music scores, pencils, water or other equipment should be shared with another student or staff member.
  • Each student is required to bring their own music stand to rehearsal/practice. 
  • All spaces with a shared keyboard instrument to be equipped with a keyboard cleaning kit for individuals present in a space to clean the keyboard responsibly. Guidelines outlining the process will be included in each kit. 

Further measures

  • Strict handwashing policy in operation upon entering the College, with signage and clear one-way system to direct people to facilities (where applicable).
  • Performers should wear face coverings when not playing/singing and particularly at the end of a session
  • When available in a given space, protective screens can be used. Please enquire with nathanjames.dearden@rhul.ac.uk to loan additional screens. 

For full information about the use of one of our practice spaces for solo instrumental rehearsal, please read thoroughly the following risk assessments: RA – MUPerf02: Large practice rooms and RA – MUPerf07: Using shared instruments and musical equipment.  

Large music group activity (9 or more people)

Please refer the guidelines outlined above for small music group activity but with special consideration for booking of suitable spaces. All bookings for music groups with 9 or more people must be booked through nathanjames.dearden@rhul.ac.uk, where further guidance will be given. 

Please note the conductor, group leader or nominated representative will be responsible for the organisation of the outlined guidance above, overseeing the guidance within a space and enacting the guidance (please also see page 43).

For full information about the use of one of our practice spaces for large music group activities, please read thoroughly the following risk assessments: RA – MUPerf03: Large performance & rehearsal spacesRA – MUPerf04: Storage Facilities and RA – MUPerf07: Using shared instruments and musical equipment.

Singing

The following guidelines must be adhered to in the performance of choral music or with vocal ensembles which are student-led 

Please note: there are separate measures for the Chapel Choir

Overview

Whilst recent research may prove that singing is no more responsible for the distribution of particles or aerosols into the atmosphere than talking, there are concerns about the general build-up of potentially harmful aerosols in a choral setting. Rehearsals, and any kind of performance, will have to be adapted to include fewer singers, avoiding too much loud singing, be limited in duration with breaks, and singers will also need to be carefully distanced from each other. As an additional precaution to mitigate against these risks, stricter adherence to cleaning guidelines and face coverings is recommended.

Spacing

  • Singers should be positioned side-by-side either in one line or in a large semi-circle with a 2-metre gap in between singers – there must be no face-to-face singing.
  • If a second row of singers is required they should be at least 2 metres behind the front row and placed carefully so as not to be singing directly into the head of the person in front
  • Consider placing chairs in the right positions before the singers arrive so that they know where to sing from
  • Be careful to maintain social distancing around crowded areas like doorways.

Numbers 

  • In a large performance space (e.g. the Chapel or Picture Gallery) it may be possible to perform with a maximum of 15 singers.
  • In a larger practice space (e.g. Wettons Annexe, Stumble Out) the maximum should be a maximum of 8 singers.
  • In any location with a low ceiling (e.g. Woodlands Building, Woodlands Cottage, Engineers Cottage) no more than 4 singers should perform together, if the room capacity allows. 

Duration

  • No singing session should last longer than 1 hour before taking a break of a minimum of 15 minutes 
  • Conductors should manage the rehearsal carefully to avoid prolonged loud singing and encourage softer (but healthy) singing where loud singing is not essential. Conductors can also encourage good practice and focus on economy of breath when singing louder.  

Ventilation

  • Ensure that the space you are performing in is as well ventilated as possible with doors and windows fixed open where possible
  • During a break, air must be allowed to circulate in the room. In the Chapel and Picture Gallery, fans should be available for this (email choraladmin@rhul.ac.uk to arrange)
  • When a room is being ventilated during a break, there should be nobody in the room but somebody should remain within sight of the room for security.

Equipment

  • No music, pencils, water or other equipment should be shared.
  • Any music distributed should be handled with gloves or by somebody who has thoroughly cleaned their hands immediately beforehand.
  • All spaces with a shared keyboard instrument to be equipped with a keyboard cleaning kit for individual’s present in a space to clean the keyboard responsibly. Guidelines outlining the process will be included in each kit. 

Further measures

  • Strict handwashing policy in operation upon entering the College, with signage and clear one-way system to direct people to facilities (where applicable).
  • Singers should wear face coverings when moving between their assigned space, around the space, or within the building. 
  • The conductor must stand a minimum of 3 metres from the nearest singer.
  • If required, screens may be made available but will need to be cleaned after use (email choraladmin@rhul.ac.uk to arrange).

Communication

  • Before the first rehearsal for any choral group or vocal ensemble, the designated member or leader/conductor must email this list of measures to all involved so that they know what to expect on arrival.
  • Any singer with symptoms of COVID-19 must not take part and must follow the general College advice to remain at their residence. If they have sung with a group in the last week, they should also inform the director or conductor of that group and contact the Director of Choral Music at Rupert.Gough@rhul.ac.uk.

Responsibility 

  • One member of each vocal group (most likely the conductor) will have responsibility to ensure that they fully understand and implement these guidelines
  • Most of these guidelines rely on the individual responsibility of each singer to adhere to these guidelines at all times

Finally…

Singing is good for you! Let us not forget the positive values of singing which we all value while looking after each other in the safest environment we can manage.

Instrumental & vocal lessons

Instrumental and vocal lessons will be delivered this year with a blend of face-to-face and on-line tuition as much as is possible. 

Some performance modules have public examined performances attached to them. These modules include MU2210, MU2211, MU3211, MU3393, MU5509, MU5535, and MU5539. For the academic year 2020-21 this will very much depend on Health and Safety policies at the time as regards potential public/student/staff audiences. 

For MU2210, MU3393 MU2211 and MU3211, you will be allocated a specific slot within our Friday Pocket Concert series. These are planned to be live-streamed from the Picture Gallery on Friday lunchtimes during Term 1 and possibly Term 2. Further information regarding these will be conveyed directly by the Director of Performance. 

Some key points to remember for your instrumental and vocal lessons at Royal Holloway are:

Spacing

  • All teaching rooms will have floor markings at 3m to indicate standing/sitting positions, particularly for singing, wind and brass. 

Equipment 

  • Bring your own music stand and only use your own music and equipment (e.g. pencils, paper, water).
  • All spaces with a shared keyboard instrument to be equipped with a keyboard cleaning kit for individuals present in a space to clean the keyboard responsibly. Guidelines outlining the process will be included in each kit. 
  • Number of chairs and stands in each room limited with all excess stands and chairs removed.

Ventilation

  • Ensure that the space you are performing in is as well ventilated as possible with doors and windows fixed open where possible.
  • During a break, air must be allowed to circulate in the room.
  • When a room is being ventilated during a break, there should be no individual remaining in the room. However someone should remain within sight of the room for security purposes.

Further measures

  • Strict handwashing policy in operation upon entering the College, with signage and clear one-way system to direct people to facilities (where applicable).
  • Wind and Brass instruments – ensure you have your own cloth to soak up any condensate and take away with you after use.
  • Where 2m social distancing cannot be maintained, facemasks are to be worn, as per College Guidelines.
  • Each room will be equipped with a shared keyboard cleaning kit (where applicable) and a clear Perspex partition screen (dimensions: 1800mm x 1000m).

For full information about the use of one of our practice spaces for instrumental and vocal teaching, please read thoroughly the following risk assessments: RA – MUPerf01: Small practice rooms, RA – MUPerf02: Large practice rooms and RA – MUPerf07: Using shared instruments and musical equipment.  

Music Group Rehearsal Checklist & Agreement

The health, safety and welfare of everyone we work with is a top priority for Royal Holloway. To ensure we take all reasonable steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we ask that you if you (as a delegated member of a music group) complete a Music Group Rehearsal Checklist & Agreement before a given rehearsal/session with your music group.

Please CLICK HERE to complete the Music Group Rehearsal Checklist & Agreement.(Link embedded)


Concert Office and general queries 

There are several people who make music performance at the department happen for students and staff alike. 

At your time at Royal Holloway, you will meet Dr Mary Dullea (Director of Performance; mary.dullea@rhul.ac.uk), Rebecca Miller (Director of Orchestras; rebecca.miller@rhul.ac.uk), Rupert Gough (Director of Choral Music; rupert.gough@rhul.ac.uk), Alexander Turner (Choral Administrator; choraladmin@rhul.ac.uk), Dr Daniel Elphick (Teaching Fellow and Instrumental & Vocal Tutor Coordinator; daniel.elphick@rhul.ac.uk) and Nathan James Dearden, the College's Performance Manager (WT0-04; nathanjames.dearden@rhul.ac.uk).

The Concert Office, located in Wettons Terrace 0-04, will happily provide information and help regarding the International Concert Series, the orchestras and ensembles, chamber music activities, performance opportunities, venue bookings, instrument and musical equipment loans, and instrumental or vocal lessons.

Our plan for 2020-21 onwards

From September 2020 onwards, the Concert Office are ensuring that the resources and information important for student and staff experience at Royal Holloway are more readily available, and that your use of the Concert Office is in the safest environment possible. 

Therefore, we have introduced the following procedures and resources:

Room Bookings on Resource Booker

All music practice spaces in Woodlands Building, Woodlands Cottage and Engineers Cottage can now be booked by both students and staff via Resource Booker

All students enrolled onto any undergraduate and postgraduate music course will have the opportunity to book up to 90-minutes for individual practice or small group rehearsal per day

All requests for room bookings will be authorized by a member of performance staff. 

As outlined in the various Risk Assessments, you must book a space to be able to use it as part of our Track-and-Trace protocols at the Department of Music. Students and staff found to have neglected this procedure may be prohibited from using music practice facilities. 

Please ensure you read and understand the room capacities document before booking, otherwise the booking process may be prolonged if this information is not given on booking. 

 

The Concert Office is now online

The Concert Office now has an online platform on Moodle, filled to the brim with resources and information. You can find us on Moodle by searching ‘Music Performance at Royal Holloway’ or by CLICKING HERE

Students enrolled onto the following courses will have been automatically enrolled onto the ‘Music Performance at Royal Holloway’ Moodle page: MU1118, MU1119, MU2205, MU2210, MU2211, MU3211, MU3393, MU3407, MU5509, MU5535 and MU5539. 

Students who are enrolled onto a music degree programme at Royal Holloway are still able to self-enrol onto this Moodle page by searching ‘Music Performance at Royal Holloway’ or by CLICKING HERE.

Here you will find information on: Welcome Week 2020, General Concert Office Information, Ensembles at Royal Holloway, International Concert Series, Instrumental & Vocal Tuition, Room Bookings, Concert Management & Artist Personnel Programme, Front-of-House Scheme, Instrument and Musical Instrument Loans, and Picture Gallery Composer-in-Residence Programme. 

We are still open

The Concert Office, situated in Wettons Terrace 0-04, will still be open during term-time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 12.00pm – 5.00pm. However we strongly encourage you to book a meeting in advance by emailing nathanjames.dearden@rhul.ac.uk, to save on trips to the office where the Performance Manager may be busy and to reduce contact with office staff and other students/staff. 

You will also find that the Concert Office has been restricted to incorporate a one-way system (one exit, one entrance) to reduce contact with office staff and other students/staff

To read the full document

Please click here