One choir member shares their view on face coverings in choral settings
In praise of face masks? Oh yes, you read that right, even if you may find it hard to believe.
When face masks were first introduced, I was not happy.
I struggle with hearing, so a mask makes it even harder for me and cuts out the possibility of lip-reading. I didn’t even realise how much I was relying on lip-reading until masks became widespread. I now find myself constantly apologising in shops, as I have to double check everything a shop assistant is saying to me if they’re wearing a mask.
And I was not thrilled about having to wear one, especially for any length of time, finding them suffocating and hot. So when I was told I had to for choir rehearsals, I was totally dismayed. Perhaps I wasn’t that keen on in-person rehearsals after all? Or maybe we could just turn up in a mask and then take it off? That hope was dashed when the choir committee issued dire warnings about not wearing one, with penalties, like we were back at school.
But now, a few weeks down the line, I’ve changed my tune (pun intended) and consider myself a new fan!
We’ve just been told that complacency is one of the biggest risks for a second wave of coronavirus: people not following the rules, either because they don’t think it’s necessary or (far more likely in my view, judging from my own experience!) because they forget. When you’re out and about, life can feel quite normal and so you automatically start behaving as such, often walking too close to people in the process.
But face masks are the perfect unmissable reminder on everyone’s face that life is not normal, that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and that we need to be careful, all the time.
And one more thing: wearing one shows respect. It says, ‘I take fellow human beings/choir members’ wellbeing seriously, so I’m doing what I can.’ It’s about respect for others’ anxiety, as much as for their physical health. It is not really about me.
So now I own half a dozen snazzy face coverings and have worked out the most comfortable ones for singing in. And you know what? Wearing one really is a very small price to pay for the joy of singing together again.
Plus: that’s Christmas stocking fillers sorted for everyone this year, right?