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HMS guidance for COVID safe music making in schools 

Updated: 08/04/2022

This page will soon be updated to reflect the changes in guidance that came into effect from 1 April 2022.

This HMS guidance approved by the County Council Health and Safety team is based on information found in the following guidance and information: 

In addition, Music Mark have updated their Music Unlocked guidance which schools and instrumental teachers may find useful.

As COVID-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, HMS will continue to prioritise the safety of its staff, pupils and their families whilst reducing the disruption to children and young people’s musical education. 

This guidance explains how we plan to safely deliver music tuition in schools  whilst reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  

HMS risk assessment for music teaching in schools is available to download [79KB], just for your own reference and/or your records. You must still maintain your own school risk assessment for music tuition at your venue.

Regular testing

Most people in England are no longer advised to get tested and free testing for COVID-19 from the NHS has ended for most people.

Ventilation

It is important to make sure there is adequate ventilation in enclosed areas of all teaching spaces.

Ventilation is the process of bringing in fresh air from outside and removing indoor air, which may:

  • be stale
  • be hot and humid because of work machinery and processes
  • contain pollutants and other impurities

All tuition should be delivered in a suitably ventilated area. Further guidance is available here.

Singing

There are no longer any restrictions on singing in schools.

Close contacts and isolation

Close contacts are no longer required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests and contact tracing has ended. 

COVID-19 symptoms

The list of symptoms of COVID-19 was updated from 1 April 2022 and can be found here.

Hygiene and cleaning

Frequent and thorough hand cleaning should now be regular practice by all HMS teachers. Our staff may continue to ask that pupils clean their hands before and after any music lesson with soap and water or hand sanitiser. 

All HMS teachers are reminded to follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach to coughs and sneezes. 

Any shared equipment (e.g. drumsticks, kits or piano keyboards) should be cleaned between students, using basic detergent wipes or sprays. 

Staff and pupils will use their own instruments in schools, with the exception of drums, percussion and keyboards. Drummers will use their own drumsticks. 

Staff will wipe down their instrument, stand any other equipment using disinfectant wipes or soapy water before and after lessons.  Pupils will be asked to do the same. 

At the end of the session, teachers will wipe down all equipment and also the teaching room’s door handle and light switch. 

Social distancing

HMS are advising teachers to keep a sensible distance from students during lessons that still allows for effective and successful learning to take place.

Face coverings

Face coverings are no longer advised for students, staff or visitors in education settings.

HMS supports any teacher that wishes to continue wearing a face covering when it's hard to stay away from other people - particularly indoors or in crowded places.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff

HMS staff at high risk from COVID-19 are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else.

These staff members are no longer advised to stay at home (shield). Click here for guidance and information about staying safe if you're at high risk.

Teaching in large groups

As social distancing rules and the use of bubbles in schools has been removed, there are no longer any restrictions on the number of pupils that can take part in group lessons or which pupils can take part in any session. 

Teachers are advised to consider the number of pupils in a room with reference to the ventilation of the space, sensible distancing between pupils and ensuring pupils continue to practice good personal hygiene. 

Sharing instruments

Avoid sharing instruments and equipment wherever possible - name labels can be used on equipment to help identify the designated user, for example, a violin case or Djembe drum. 

Sharing of woodwind / brass instruments should not take place, including using a different mouthpiece on the same brass instrument. 

Sets of ‘non-blown’ instruments (e.g. violin, cello, guitar, djembe etc.) can be used by another class, as long as they are cleaned appropriately before and after use, preferably by the pupil using the instrument. 

Performances

Performances are now able to go ahead. Please refer to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport guidance for creating COVID safe performance opportunities at your school. 

Instrument specific cleaning guidance

All instruments present a risk of contact transmission.

This is similar to the risk of transmission via door handles, handrails etc around the school. Instruments that are only used by one person should be cleaned as usual but with additional care.

If instruments are used by more than one person (e.g. classroom percussion) or taken in and reallocated (e.g. at the end of a whole-class programme or hire period), meticulous cleaning is called for. 

Some processes described here are not intended to be taught to or carried out by pupils. Not all will be practical or even desirable every time an instrument is played.

The guidance is written with normal school and student instruments in mind. It is not intended for higher quality or antique instruments. 

More detailed guidance on cleaning instruments can be found on the Incorporated Society of Musicians website.

Woodwind and Brass

Disinfectant wipes and/or sprays are effective but bear in mind that most instruments contain multiple materials. Some disinfectant products will damage the pads of woodwind instruments and varnished or polished finishes. Hot, soapy water is just as effective as disinfectant wipes.

Instruments or parts of instruments made entirely from plastic may be submersed.  The same applies to brass instruments but take the valves out first and set them aside. Recorders can even be cleaned in the dishwasher in the top rack.  

Do not immerse or soak woodwind instruments with cork joints or with keywork as it may damage pads: this includes flute head joints, as it will damage the handcrafter playing, woodwind instruments should at minimum be dried in and out with swabs or pull-throughs to limit microbial growth.  

Fully drying even small brass instruments is not practical but it is extremely important to clean the mouthpiece using an appropriately sized mouthpiece brush, to ensure that all dirt and debris are removed.  

Piano

Piano keyboards must be cleaned before and after each use. Plastic piano and electronic keyboards can be sanitised with disinfectant wipes (unplug electronic equipment first).

Do not spray them as residues may harm key mechanisms. It is a good idea to dry keys off afterwards. Ivory keys will be damaged by most disinfectant products.

Clean them with a cloth dipped in soapy water and wrung out; leave the residue on for thirty seconds and wipe with a dry cloth. 

Drums

Handles and straps of percussion instruments and beaters should be wiped similarly. Primary school percussion trolleys may not be practical for now unless all instruments and the trolley can be cleaned after each use.

Instruments might be allocated to classes or set aside for 72 hours between uses to avoid cross-contamination. Schools will need to respond according to their stocks, circumstances and needs.  

Strings / guitar

For wooden instruments, follow manufacturers’ instructions or test your cleaning product on an inconspicuous surface. You may want to wipe the chinrests of violins or violas, but it probably is not necessary (pure sweat is not thought to carry viruses). The neck and fingerboard and the lower end of the bow of all bowed strings may also be wiped. 

Music Tech

Knobs, buttons, sliders etc on ICT equipment, amplifiers, backlines, CD/MP3 players and so forth should be wiped with antiseptic wipes. Do not use sprays or soaked cloths, to avoid liquids getting inside equipment.  

Areas such as the home button on iPads and the mesh of microphones are particularly bad for harbouring microbes. As prevention is better than cure, using a pop screen with microphones will reduce contamination.  Always unplug equipment from the mains before cleaning. 

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