Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Singing During the Pandemic

     Sorry for my delay posting this: here is information about singing and the Covid-19 virus from last spring. Unfortunately most of this info is still very relevant:
     I hope you are all safe and healthy during these scary times. I’m including a lot of advice here for how to keep singing safely as we make our way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

     The bad news for singers: we continue to learn more about the virus daily, but experts agree that the virus is spread via saliva droplets. Singing can project those droplets much farther than the recommended 6 feet of distance we’ve been told to keep:
     “Singers are at high risk for transmission for COVID-19... Because singers are vocal athletes and they engage in diaphragmatic breathing, they can actually generate much more aerosols which can spread further.”
Phillip C. Song, MD, Mass. Eye and Ear

     “And at this juncture, we don't want people doing voice lessons, even standing eight-and-a-half feet apart," William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

     But we need to keep singing! Read on for some ideas about how you can safely keep singing.


     Now is a great time to consistently warm up, sing through your repertoire, learn new songs, write songs, build your accompaniment skills, work on related skills like sight-singing. Figure out your goals and how much time you can realistically devote to a singing practice. Set reasonable goals and don’t overdo it to prevent burnout: leave time for rest, these are stressful times.
    Many are sheltering with others and have to figure out how to practice without disturbing your family or housemates. Some of my students are singing in closets where the sound is muffled, or in rooms far from others. Or they just agree on a time where their families or housemates won't mind if they sing.
     Though standing when singing is preferable you can always go sit in a car to practice.


     Skype [my favorite], Zoom, Google Chat, all these work for online singing lessons. All online platforms have a slight lag, which means teachers can’t accompany you. Your deejay skills will improve during this time because you will need to play your own tracks while singing for your teacher, whether those are karaoke tracks or tracks your teacher has recorded and sent to you. If possible play your tracks on a different device than what you use for Skyping. Have all of your tracks organized in a folder or iTunes playlist, one for your warmups and one for your song tracks.
     The pandemic has hurt our economy and many can’t afford singing lessons right now, but want to continue learning. Many teachers will meet with you for one lesson instead of many and work out a study plan--I’ve done this for several students this year. There are also many singing tutorials on Youtube you can work through. Just make sure to use common sense as you try different methods: remember that if it hurts to sing it’s not good for you.


     Sadly, that lag on all of the online platforms makes practicing online with others in real time near impossible. Platforms like JamKazam are touted as not having a lag and are worth trying, but I’ve seen posts in musician forums that say the lag exists there as well. One of my students just got her MA in recording technology and she tells me that inventing an online platform with no lag is all anyone in her department talks about! For now your best bet might be recording your vocals and sharing with other singers, who then add their vocals. The Acappella app is free and easy to use for this, and there are others out there as well.

     Here’s an article that goes over more ways to sing with others.
      If you need help with harmonies or want to up your harmonizing skills while sheltering check out my Sing Harmonies app, or Harmony Singing by Ear [sigh: the cover reminds me of when we didn't need to socially distance].


Lastly, if your area has reopened and live music is happening:
Audience members: stay out of the front row! Remember how far those droplets can project.
Performers: bring your own mic to your gig. Distance yourself from any other musicians on stage. Whenever possible do outdoor gigs instead.

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