COVID Safe music education and performance

Throughout the world education has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially so with music education where, either singly or in ensembles, children and young adults learn how to master their instruments and play together in orchestras and bands. This is a particularly challenging environment for infection control, as it is difficult to require social distancing and mask wearing for groups of young people from different families and different schools. Particularly for wind instruments, where masks can’t be worn, the aerosol particles produced by an infected musician can carry viruses for a considerable distance.

Grant Purdy has worked with Melbourne Youth Orchestras (MYO) for many years. This year he has helped them develop a strategy to continue to rehearse and explore music safely.

Every Saturday during school terms, MYO brings together, in one building, 500 young musicians from the age of 8. They rehearse and explore music in nine ensembles, comprising symphony orchestras, string orchestras and symphonic bands.

During Melbourne’s periods of COVID lockdown, all MYO music education went online. Now, with the city reopening, Grant has worked with MYO to develop a COVID protection strategy so the ensemble rehearsal program can restart safely. This began with a vulnerability analysis, and then resolved into a multi-element, protection strategy. MYO published this strategy here.

There are many other state-based Youth Orchestras in Australia that have faced the same challenges. So far, those that have used the MYO and Broadleaf approach to develop their own protection strategy include:

The peak body for all music education in Victoria, the Music Education Alliance Victoria, has now adopted the MYO and Broadleaf approach to develop a set of comprehensive Guidelines for COVIDSafe Music Education in Victoria. These have been prepared by Dorian Jones, the CEO of MYO, with advice from Grant Purdy.

Support youth orchestras!

We are very pleased that our work helps young people explore and enjoy music safely. Our youth orchestras have continued to work closely and productively with their communities during these difficult times.

We urge you to support their activities. Here is where you can help:

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