This summer, MCA has been working on finding ways to change public perception that choral singing is a dangerous activity. Recent media coverage has focused on COVID-19 outbreaks among choirs, but studies have found that singing could not be determined to be the cause of transmission. This widespread negative perception has influenced government policies, though the science of how COVID-19 might be transmitted through speech and singing is only starting to be understood. In fact, recent research is extremely encouraging: Kähler & Hain’s study investigating the distance aerosols travel during singing, for example, argues that singing is safe under social distancing guidelines.
In June, MCA wrote a letter to the Government of Manitoba outlining our concerns and urging them to work with the choral community to develop safe guidelines to resume choral activities. On June 23, Manitoba Choral Association, along with Manitoba Band Association and Manitoba Music Educators’ Association, was granted a meeting with the Minister of Health, Seniors & Active Living, the Minister of Education, and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin.
At the meeting, MCA pointed out that much of the current science driving the public’s perception has focused exclusively on speech; did not consider virus and aerosol transmission and dispersion; and misrepresented the basic physics and physiology of singing versus speech. MCA also advocated for the development of guidelines for the safe resumption of choral activities based on the most recent singing-focused research available.
Manitoba’s Phase 4 Draft Plan has just been released, and it appears choral singing is not on the list of allowable activities. We are engaging in ongoing and meaningful dialogue with government officials on this topic. We invite you to get involved too: take the Province’s survey today to give your feedback on the Draft Plan.
Manitoba has long been known across the country as “the singing province.” We know how important choir is to you! We encourage our members to partner with us and get involved with this important work, so we can sing safely together in person once more.
We invite you to get involved: write to your MLA, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education to share your support for the safe resumption of community choral activities!