Welcome to a new season of Notes from the Podium. I hope that everyone’s Summer was as enjoyable as circumstances allowed. It has been a difficult Summer for all of us, not least your committee who have been working hard on your behalf. My personal thanks to them all.
You will have received Eileen’s letter earlier this week in which she said that the committee had met last Monday. At that meeting a plan for the resumption of some singing was worked out. Since then the government has issued new guidelines and restrictions that appear to disrupt the plan along with a marked increase in infections nationwide that has affected people’s confidence.
The Association of British Choral Directors and Making Music have informed us that the new restrictions may not apply to leisure groups meeting in covid secure venues with detailed risk assessments. More information will come out on Monday that may well give us the flexibility to make our own decisions or tie our hands even further.
In spite of all that I wish to share with you the plan so that we can discuss it and be prepared to implement it as soon as circumstances allow.
Here is the plan:
We will start with a choir Zoom meeting at 7:30 on Monday, 21st September giving us opportunity to inform, question and comment on whatever the situation is at that point. (It can’t be earlier as Vicky and I are away 13th to 20th September). I hope that as many people as possible will be able to join us. The link to the meeting will be sent separately. The meeting will be recorded and made available to everyone. If you can’t attend please pass any questions, comments etc. to a member of the committee or me. Some of you are desperate to sing “live” again; some of you are understandably reluctant to take the risk at the moment and some will need reassurance that measures are put in place to minimise risk before committing.
I must emphasise that each of us has responsibility for our own safety and to the rest of the group and must make our personal decisions in that context.
Monday, 28th September the first live meeting. (This will probably have to be reviewed/postponed).
The Minster have informed us that the State Chamber will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. The plan is that we will use the Methodist Church to start with. When we can go ahead we will have to check that the Methodist Church would still be happy for us to go in and that it is covid safe. There will be a restriction on numbers. Personally, I would be uncomfortable with anything over 30 (although current regulations allow more). We might have to consider two “sittings”.
Initially my proposal is that we meet for no more than an hour; that we maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance and not sing at full volume; wear masks on arrival but make an individual choice when singing. (I won’t wear a mask in rehearsal but will be 3 metres away from the nearest singer.) There should be no sharing of music, pencils or anything else. Only one person in a toilet at any time. The venue will have its own risk assessment ensuring that everything is clean before we go in and when we leave there will be things that we have to do to help keep it safe.
There are other things to think of:
There will have to be system in place to record who is present.
How do we (I) react if more than 30 people want to come?
Repertoire and copies.
Not everyone will be allowed to come and there will be those who don’t want to come at the moment. Rehearsals will be recorded; I am looking into cost effective ways of live streaming so that those who are unable to attend can remain connected. I will also provide lockdown-style Notes from the Podium, but perhaps not every week.
We need to remain alert and flexible.
There will be no completely risk free solution; everyone is free to make their own decisions. Your committee is risk aware but not risk averse.
Over the past month I have lost count of the hours that I have spent reading guidance, advice, scientific research papers and all sorts of “fake news”. The other weekend we had an Association of British Choral Directors virtual Festival at which we heard at length from respected authorities on this issue and I am attending a webinar on the latest developments on 12th September. I feel that I am personally well informed to help keep us all as safe as possible.
Everything will be place for us to enjoy meeting and singing together, even if it is not as we knew it, as soon as possible.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions and comments.
I am excited at the prospect of meeting you in person and making music, I hope that you are as well and that it can be soon.