Jen Beardsmore, secretary of Brewood Singers, outlines the steps her group took to make a safe return to in-person music making.
Brewood Singers managed to return to in-person singing on three occasions before breaking up for our summer break. We had a comprehensive risk assessment, adapted from Making Music’s template, which I updated at regular intervals in readiness for when we could restart. Our venue (a school) also has a risk assessment, which we incorporated into our own. Brewood Singers runs with a committee and we consulted our membership on several occasions throughout the pandemic about their feelings on returning to in-person activity. We kept up-to-date with abcd and Making Music’s guidance tool and social media pages for current guidelines.
We had not managed to meet in person since March 2020. When we thought we would be able to last year, it was clear the hall we had previously used was too small for social distancing, so we had to find somewhere suitable. We found a local grammar school that rents out spaces. I liaised with the facilities manager on risk assessments and regulations from September 2020-June 2021. Fortunately, I hold a ‘Managing Safely’ qualification, which meant he and I were able to work together on required safety measures at the school.
'Some members were uncomfortable with singing spaced so far apart, but we managed under the enthusiastic and understanding leadership of our MD, David Brookes.'
Once we finally returned, everyone was glad to be back, but it was a little nerve-wracking waiting to see how things would go. Before lockdown, there were 32 of us. Some were not able to come to rehearsals as they were on holiday, while for others it was too soon, or they had more pressing reasons for not attending. However, we had 23 members plus our MD and accompanist, and we all felt good about returning. Some members were uncomfortable with singing spaced so far apart, but we managed under the enthusiastic and understanding leadership of our MD, David Brookes. We removed our face coverings to sing.
Lizzie, our MD’s dog, was given special dispensation by the choir head to come to rehearsals (having conducted her own risk assessment)
I took some photographs and did a short recording by simply placing my phone on the floor when we were singing part of ‘The Rose’ (arranged by our MD). Considering we hadn’t sung it together for nearly 18 months, we were quite pleased with the result. I have also downloaded WellRehearsed, Making Music and abcd’s free new app for building a picture of the effectiveness of Covid-secure risk mitigations.
We are now planning to return in September and a new risk assessment is being drawn up. We shall be consulting members on their feelings towards what is safe and which measures they would like to have in place. We will also be staying in the larger rehearsal venue, which has double doors that can be opened for additional ventilation.
Has your group recently returned to in-person rehearsals? Get in touch and let us know how you went about things!