COVID-19 Protocols for Concert Bands
While we still don’t know all the details of in-person classes this fall, all indications are that we will be rehearsing and performing in some capacity beginning August 24. We will update this web page regularly as the circumstances or the research changes. We will also share scientific studies and various advocacy group statements here along the way.
We will be flexible and creative with personnel, scheduling, and programming to make certain that every musician at KU that wants to play in a concert band can do so, AND have a high quality music experience. Though it might look different than past years, our goal is to offer you a safe and inspiring musical experience in any of the various contingency plans.
Research on aerosols and wind playing is ongoing at the University of Colorado, Colorado State, and the University of Maryland, but recent studies are looking increasingly promising. Social distancing setups will be used, as well as bell covers, masks specifically designed with a slit to allow playing, and HEPA air purifiers, based on recent preliminary results from the ongoing scientific studies. We will have hand sanitizing stations when entering and exiting the room. We will wear masks when entering and exiting the room. We will sanitize chairs and stands at the beginning and end of each rehearsal. Our HVAC system has been modified to bring in fresh air rather than simply recirculating air. Current recommendations also include a schedule of 30 minutes rehearsing in the room, followed by a 20 minute break to best exchange the air in our environment. We will try to utilize these break periods for sectionals, perhaps outdoors, if possible to best utilize our time together.
For students unable or uncomfortable participating in live ensembles due to health or family concerns, we will create a parallel virtual track, allowing those students to work with faculty and instructional staff to create a virtual recording shared in a livestream and/or on social media.
In terms of ensemble activity, KU Bands is prepping for a few different scenarios, but WE WILL HAVE BANDS! Possible scenarios include:
Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, University Band, and Concert Band are all in-person. Ensemble sizes have been adjusted to meet the social distancing needs of each room.
We have added a fourth ensemble, Concert Band, to accomodate the need for an extra ensemble based on size limitations of our ensemble rooms. Concert Band will meet on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 pm to 9:20 pm.
Concerts will be at the Lied Center and with social distancing in the audience allowing for 285-450 in the audience, once we enter Phase 4. Concerts will also be live-streamed.
Bands are in-person, but concerts will be streamed from 118, 130, or an empty Lied Center. We will have the capability to do relatively high-quality streaming from all venues.
If campus goes completely online, we can pool all of the wind players into multiple small bands and wind chamber groups. All band faculty plus instructional staff will work together on project-based virtual recordings. We would work on core repertoire. Each player might only work on one or two big pieces per concert cycle. We would discuss general issues over Zoom during class time and listen to examples. Students would send in their individual recordings every couple of days; we would critique and send notes back to them until each individual part was strong enough to be put together into a virtual performance, shared online and/or live-streamed.
Our Dean, Provost, and Chancellor have all expressed confidence that we will be back in person in August. Of course, things could change at any moment, but in the meantime, we are preparing for each of these possibilities. Let us know if you have questions or concerns. We miss working, teaching, and making music with you - be well!
Paul W. Popiel, Matthew O. Smith, Sharon Toulouse
National Association for Music Education (NaFME): Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Study
College Band Directors National Association: Covid 19 Response Team report
State of Kansas Department of Health and Environment (accessed 6/29/20)
Hoffman, Schwalje, and Lebrecht article
130 Murphy Hall, set up for the KU Wind Ensemble and adhering to social distancing protocols.
118 Murphy Hall, set up for the KU Symphonic Band, adhering to social distancing protocols.