American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) today released guidance and a statement of support for choral singing and study during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “COVID-19 Response Committee Report: June 15, 2020” was developed by a team of choral professionals from across the country, and with expertise and experience in choral education and conducting in a variety of choral settings including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community choirs, and places of worship.
ACDA National President Lynne Gackle noted, “These committee members are choral directors, not medical experts, so this report will not provide scientific findings or recommendations. Rather, these directors have shared their thoughts about the next steps for planning for choirs in the fall and what considerations should be made within each context whether the instructional scenario is face-to-face, hybrid, or remote. I am so grateful for the willingness of these colleagues to share their time, talent, and wisdom in the creation of this unified response and detailed resource on behalf of ACDA.”
“We endeavor,” stated the committee members, “to provide resources for all choral musicians, to advocate for ourselves and our profession, to guide our thinking with sample instructional models, and to point us in the direction of additional information.” They continued, “Primarily, we encourage all to continue to ensure that all singers are given equal access to participate fully in your programs, understanding that for so many, choir is their safety net, their source of emotional wellbeing and support.”
The report is available on the association’s website at https://acda.org.
The report begins with a statement of advocacy that includes a strong call to recognize the essential nature of choral singing and choirs during this time of crisis: “In the wake of the global pandemic, it is more important than ever to provide support and creative learning outlets that strengthen a well-rounded populace. It is essential to provide access to tools, among them technology, to keep America singing, thinking creatively, and building inclusive communities.
The document lays out scenarios, noting that in this planning stage there are no certainties, and empirical data are not yet available. For a variety of settings – including middle school/junior high and upper elementary school; senior high school; collegiate; community youth and adult community choir; and music in worship, three options are laid out: one with face-to-face and physical distancing protocols, one that combines that first scenario with remote instruction, and a third that is entirely remote instruction. The committee noted that choir directors should be flexible, perhaps preparing to begin in one scenario and pivoting to a different scenario if necessary.
The document team members also noted the challenges associated with an evolving understanding of COVID-19, and the likelihood that new data may well render aspects of the document outdated. “We cannot state strongly enough that it is important for individuals to remain knowledgeable about the most current research and local/regional/guidelines. . . . Again, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The report offers two appendices with a compilation of resources for technology, rehearsal platforms, pedagogy, and general assistance with navigating all learning scenarios; a current list of related research; materials for advocacy; and an extension of the instructional models contained, which includes practices for repertoire selection, developing critical thinking, and sample pieces for developmental choirs learning to establish independence.
A follow-up, hour-long webinar is scheduled for Monday, June 22, at 3:00 p.m. EDT / 12:00 p.m. PDT, which will include ACDA President Lynne Gackle, ACDA Vice-President André Thomas, and the 13 Response Committee members. They will summarize and discuss the report’s contents, as well as answer questions. Registration information will be shared with ACDA members via email and other channels.
About ACDA’s COVID-19 Response: This important report is a core part of ACDA’s response to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the choral world. Additional parts include, but are not limited to, the following:
- ACDA has helped fund and raise support for research that will begin to fill in some holes in our scientific knowledge related to viruses and choral singing.
- In collaboration with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Chorus America, and Barbershop Harmony Society, ACDA has co-hosted three webinars including one with scientists on what we know and don’t know about viruses and singing, as well as one focusing on creative approaches and ideas for what choral conductors and singers can do in this new environment.
- Worked in partnership with other arts organizations to speak up strongly concerning the essential nature of choral singing in educational and community settings, and to call for COVID relief efforts for artists, including choral professionals.
- Additionally ACDA state chapters have done, and continue to do, strong and innovative work to educate members, advocate for local and state arts funding, include the arts in reopening planning, and otherwise create and share vetted information.
About ACDA: American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is made up of approximately 17,000 members who represent more than 1 million singers across the country. ACDA members conduct and teach a range of choirs, including school and university-based choirs, community choral groups, professional ensembles, and music in worship. ACDA’s mission is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.