Safe return to in-person music sessions in schools during Covid-19
Wednesday 30th June 2021
Live Music Now has resumed delivery of bespoke music sessions in schools for children with additional needs and disabilities, informed by government guidance and research. We have taken steps to ensure that all our musicians comply with arrangements for managing and minimising risk and are able to work with schools in adapting provision to reduce risk of infection. We can respond flexibly to individual school’s protocols and provide support and advice on how music can be delivered safely to benefit your pupils.
The DfE is clear that ‘all pupils should have access to a quality arts education’ (DfE Guidance for full opening: schools). Updated DfE guidance for special schools and other specialist settings (17/9/20) confirms that music activity, including delivery by visiting teachers, can continue and that ‘peripatetic teachers can move between schools’.
Further guidance, literature reviews and risk assessments for schools is available here.
Download our guidance document as a PDF.
Guidance for SEN schools and specialist settings hosting Covid-secure Live Music Now sessions
Why music is important
Music can play a vital role in your recovery curriculum. It can help children and young people with additional needs settle back into a positive learning environment and support their wellbeing. Research and LMN’s own experience shows that regular participation in music:
- Readies children for learning across the curriculum
- Promotes engagement, particularly for non-verbal children
- Builds children’s confidence and self-esteem
- Develops listening, turn-taking and socialising skills
- Provides an outlet for self-expression and communication
- Supports children’s mental health and PSHE needs
The guidance below should be read in conjunction with Live Music Now’s Risk Assessment for Covid-secure Music Sessions in special schools and specialist settings.
Guidance for safe Live Music Now sessions
Live Music Now Concerts (length: 30 – 50 minutes)
- Choose a large space eg a hall, which allows for good ventilation and social distancing between the musicians and the audience (at least 2 metres), and between the musicians themselves (2 metres).When appropriate, sessions could take place outside.
- We recommend no more than 16-20 pupils plus staff in a concert to account for ventilation and to aid pupil engagement dependent on size of hall. We can deliver 2 or 3 shorter concerts (30 minutes each) during our visit to reach more pupils.Concerts could be live streamed to other classes using Teams or other digital networks, with facilitation of live comments or questions by staff.
- Many children and young people may respond spontaneously to music by moving, dancing, singing and vocalising. Agree measures beforehand with the musicians and staff to ensure everyone remains safe during the performance. For example:
- Set out audience chairs / wheelchair spaces for pupils to face forward, and consider 2 metres distancing for safe singing.
- Ensure there is space available for pupils to move and dance safely, without moving into the musicians’ performance area.
- Consider placing a discreet physical barrier (such as a bench) to stop pupils from approaching the performers
- Where possible, have extra staff available to support pupils’ safe participation and engagement in the concert
- Unlike previous LMN concerts, musicians will not move amongst the audience or give out instruments for participatory activities. Instead:
- Schools could provide a set of hand-held percussion instruments for the audience to join in as directed by the musicians, in which case schools should plan for safe
- The musicians will adapt their concert programme to keep the performance as engaging as possible without moving from their “performance area”.
- The musicians will avoid encouraging loud singing or loud vocal call & response activities; if the audience is socially distanced, they may incorporate limited quiet singing or vocalising.
- If possible, a live feed from a camera operated by a staff member could be projected on a screen to show close-ups of the instruments and musicians.
Live Music Now workshop sessions for small groups including “Musicians in Residence” sessions (length: 30 – 45 mins)
- Ensure the classroom is well ventilated (keep the door open if necessary), with space for the musicians to socially distance from the pupils and staff (2 metres) and from each other (2 metres). When appropriate, sessions could take place outside.
- Set up the classroom beforehand to support social distancing between musicians and pupils/staff; this should include seating pupils side-by-side and facing forwards.Staff should actively support pupils, particularly those with complex needs, to maintain social distancing from musicians.
- Arrange a safe space for musicians to leave their instrument cases / equipment in the classroom or elsewhere.
- Agree a protocol for safe management of classroom instruments including:
- allowing time for staff to sanitise instruments before and after sessions
- only using instruments which can be easily sanitised, particularly as some pupils may put instruments in their mouths
- pupils don’t share instruments or equipment (eg microphones) during the session
- only school instruments will be used in the session
- Musicians should email a session outline beforehand to aid staff preparation; musicians should brief staff verbally (and socially distanced) before the session starts.
- Classroom staff can support pupil participation by demonstrating and leading activities with individual pupils, guided by the musicians.
- Musicians will wear face masks/visas whilst moving around the corridors of the school (and may choose to wear these during the workshops if their instrument allows)
In order to deliver LMN sessions in a safe way your school will ….
- Provide a full and detailed risk assessment which includes measures in relation to external visitors.
- Respond to LMN's schools booking checklist and support LMN musicians to complete their On-site Risk Assessment checklist.
- Provide an adequate and well-ventilated space/classroom/hall for sessions and support with the agreed set-up of the space.
- Brief the musicians about the needs of pupils they will be working with to promote engagement and keep everyone safe during activities.
- For “Musician(s) in Residences”, allow time for musicians to brief classroom staff about session content and requirements.
- Ensure adequate staff in sessions to support pupil participation in musical activities.
- Provide sanitised instruments and equipment as required (discussed in advance with musicians).
- Keep LMN ‘Musician(s) in Residence’ up to date with any additional measures and expectations for safe delivery of music sessions.
For Live Music Now
In order to deliver music sessions in a safe way Live Music Now and its musicians will …
- Provide a full and detailed risk assessment with specific measures in place to deliver music where managing and minimising risk of infection is at the core of all provision.
- Communicate clearly with school staff to plan and deliver safe music sessions.
- Abide by all school control measures for safe working practices in relation to COVID-19.
- Require musicians to test negative for Covid via a lateral flow test within 24 hours of their visit to the school.
- Complete an on-site dynamic risk assessment on arrival at the school.
- Offer advice and guidance on appropriate and practical measures for safe practice.
FAQs for schools
Is it safe for our pupils to sing?*
Yes, with appropriate safety and mitigation in place. Research shows that singing does not appear to represent a significantly higher risk than routine speaking and breathing at the same volume. LMN musicians can discuss with you how to incorporate singing safely into sessions.
- Spontaneous singing: DfE guidance for early years providers (Sept 2020) says it is fine for children to spontaneously sing and dance as young children naturally do, and that this should be encouraged.
- Group singing: singing as a group activity or within a classroom is safe for pupils by following the guidance "pupils should be positioned back-to-back or side-to-side when playing or singing (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible".
Is it safe for LMN musicians to sing in our school?*
Yes, singing is safe for LMN musicians as they will follow the current guidance of "social distancing between each singer/player, and between singers/players and any other people such as conductors, other musicians, or accompanists - current guidance is that if the activity is face-to-face and without mitigating actions, 2 metres is appropriate"
Is it safe for LMN musicians to perform on wind or brass instruments in our school?
Yes! Wind and brass instruments are safe to be performed in schools by following the guidance "position wind and brass players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another players" and "Observing social distancing at all times whilst playing."
What happens if we have to cancel our session at the last minute due to a COVID-19 related issue?
Please let us know asap so we can contact the musicians before they travel to your school. We will discuss options with you to re-arrange the concert or music session.
Guidance taken from:
- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#infection-prevention-and-system-of-controls Section 3.8 Organised music sessions in the early years, including singing, and playing wind instruments in groups
- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings. Section 3: Music, dance and drama
- DCMS guidance on performances https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts#arts-4-7
- Music Mark guidance: Singing in Schools is Safe (May 2021) https://www.musicmark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Singing-Spring-21-v2.docx
If you have any other questions, please do get in touch with us: [email protected]
Original draft 24.9.20, updated 30.6.21
Karen Irwin, Live Music Now
With thanks to Resonate, the music education hub for Liverpool; Paul Exton-McGuinness; and Music Mark.