Face coverings and singing

Face coverings have become part of everyday life, and even as restrictions ease, it is likely they will continue to be around in some form for a while.

Updated: 17 august 2021 

The situation varies across the four UK nations. Some still require face coverings to be worn indoors, while others don’t require it but recommend it, especially in crowded space. 

The guidance below is for consideration in situations where face coverings are not required.  Where face coverings are required by law then you should of course follow comply with that. See our Guidance tool for up-to-date information in each nation.

Face coverings at outdoor rehearsals

This is a simple one - the advice for outdoor activities is that face coverings aren’t required and the risk of transmission outside is significantly lower. So there is no need to wear them for outdoor rehearsals – although people may choose to of course.

Face coverings at indoor rehearsals

There are two considerations here:

  1. Wearing face coverings whilst not actually rehearsing (e.g. entering and leaving the room, during breaks etc.).

In some nations this will be required. Where it isn’t required, the official advice is still to wear face coverings indoors, especially in crowded spaces. You could debate whether a rehearsal is crowded or not, but the simpler and safer approach is to keep face coverings to mitigate risk (always acknowledging that some people are exempt on medical grounds).

  1. Wearing face coverings while singing.

In England there has previously been specific guidance about singing and face coverings that has since been withdrawn. As such there is no longer specific guidance about this.

Singing does increase the number of aerosols expelled and so an infected person could spread droplets over a larger area. As such, singing does carry some increased risks, so singing groups should factor this into their risk assessments and consider extra mitigations. These could be:

  • Wearing a face covering while singing (unless you are exempt).
    • Singing in a face covering may not be ideal, but is not impossible. The aim is to make rehearsals as safe as practically possible, with a range of measures that reduce risk to an acceptable level. Wearing a face covering while singing is a practical measure that will reduce that risk. If there were to be a case of Covid-19 at your rehearsal that spread to others and you hadn’t been wearing coverings, how would you feel?
    • It would also allow you to maximise the number that can rehearse as wearing face coverings means that you could have less stringent distancing measures (see below).
    • There are also masks available designed specifically for singing (see below).
  • Not wearing face coverings – but having other mitigations in place:
    • 1 or 2m radius physical distancing around each singer, and singers facing away from each other / side by side
    • Singers facing away from instrumentalists / conductor - and at least 1 or 2 m distance.
    • Singers at least 2m - ideally more - from front row of audience
    • Partitions (remember to clean them often)

We have gathered together a list of face covering providers below, and would like to thank the Association of British Choral Directors for helping us to collate these.

Sing Safe, a Making Music Corporate Member, is a silicon insert that's durable and worn underneath your mask to keep it off your mouth, allowing you to sing comfortably and confidently while keeping you and others safe. Making Music members receive a 10% discount

General government guidance on face coverings 

Northern Ireland

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.