To sing or not to sing

The question I suspect every single choral director in the world is asking themselves at the moment is, when and how would it be safe to return to offline rehearsals.

There have been a number of scientific studies recently about the danger of singing. The problem is, that we still don’t know if the virus can be transmitted airborne. As I write this, I see that the WHO has now made a statement, that they “can’t rule it out”. But on the other hand, there seem to be very few cases, where airborne transmission is a possible cause.

I work with an amateur choir. The livelihood of my singers does not depend on the choir as it does for professional singers. And the horror of having to ask myself if I threatened the very life of my singers with a rehearsal, is for sure something we all don’t even want to imagine.

But have people really died from singing? Or rather from gathering? And is it really more dangerous to sing than to speak? Does it make sense, that people are told it is safe to go to the pub and the cinema but not to choir rehearsal?

I can obviously not answer these questions

Like everybody else (I assume) I think about it quite a lot though. And what I keep coming back to is the question: Will we ever be in a position to say: It’s safe now. No worries, come back.

There might never be a vaccine. There might never be a cure. We tried to flatten the curve and kind of succeeded (in the UK less so than in other European countries, but ok..). But does that mean we stay indoors and avoid contact with others now for ever? That surely can’t be the answer.

Like with all difficult questions, there is unfortunately no easy and all including answer. It will be in the responsibility of each one of us to make those decisions. Not the government, not the WHO. We have to decide, once it is legally allowed, if we think we can go back into the presence of others. We have to look ourselves into our very own life circumstances. How likely is it I affect a vulnerable person? How much would I really suffer if I stayed at home? How far can I reduce the risk (by taking the bike rather than the tube or wearing as mask)?

This is one of these times where I wish I had a reliable fortune teller. Someone who would just look me in the eyes and say: “Don’t worry, it will be alright”

I am hopeful that in 4 weeks time we will know more.