Recently, the National Association for Music Education released a document titled Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education in which a series of recommendations were made concerning safety amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. TCDA continues to monitor ongoing research and awaits conclusive data on which to form guidance for choral singing. We continue to urge our members to stay informed, follow local and state guidelines, and proceed with the safety of singers as the focus of all decision making. We continue to advise the use of scrutiny when distributing guidelines and sharing articles on the topic until empirical research is available.
In response to the report from NAfME, TCDA has sent the following communication to the Executive Board.
To the Executive Board of the National Association for Music Education:
I write to you with grave concern surrounding the recent report Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education. The Texas Choral Directors Association firmly believes that singing is the foundation of music education. It is the skill upon which we build the first musical development in our youngest musicians and that which continues to be displayed in our eldest musicians as they participate in community groups and music in worship. We assert that music education, in all forms, is essential both in our school system and in the ongoing education of all members of society for the academic, aesthetic, and social-emotional development that it provides the participants.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated an unprecedented disruption in our education system and therefore our delivery of music education. We strongly believe that our first priority is to protect the health of our singers and teachers. To this end, we continue to monitor the research and directives from medical authorities which at this point provide no empirical research indicating that singing is either safer or more dangerous than other activities including the playing of wind instruments, athletic participation, or any other gathering of groups.
The report released without references to research or sources asserts in the first statement that “no indoor singing should occur.” Evidence is not provided to support this assertion. Furthermore, it has come to our attention that this report was distributed to school administrators and is now being used as evidence to suspend choral music education in some schools.
As organizations that support music education and educators, it is our responsibility to provide scientific, research-based recommendations to our members that support the inclusion of ALL forms of music education. In this time of crisis, we must stand together. To this end, the TCDA Board urges that you consider clarification of your report and the inclusion of research, authors, and evidence to support any recommendations that it contains. In the interim, TCDA continues to support and monitor ongoing research and engage in scenario planning with our members to provide resources during this difficult time. We await the conclusion of research and directives from the scientific community on which we will develop plans to continue to provide safe and meaningful musical experiences to all who engage in our ensembles.
Thomas Rinn, President
Texas Choral Directors Association