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Letters and updates from ACE and AzACDA to assist teachers in advocating for their music programs. 


Good afternoon, all, 


I wanted to reach out to you at this time as we all are preparing to go back to school online to let you know that ACE and AzACDA are with you--you are not alone. AzACDA and ACE have collaborated, with big thanks to Ted Gibson, on letters that you can use in advocating for your choral program.  Just like the collaboration with AzACDA and ACE, I’d like to encourage you to work together with music and performing arts teachers in your area/district.  We have shared three different letters that you can use to promote and educate school leadership in these uncertain times.  On our websites, we have included a list of resources for you in the event that you are feeling either uninformed or underinformed.


Understanding that not everyone has the same administration and/or school leadership dynamic, please feel free to use whichever letter best suits your needs.  We just want to be a resource/sounding board to you all as well as encouraging you through this time. We are also partnering with Arizona Thespians and Arizona Dance Education Organization to send a letter to the Governor and State Superintendent that states:


AzACDA, AMEA, AzDEO, and Arizona Thespians strongly advocate for Arts Organizations and School Performing Arts Programs to be preserved and supported in the reopening of our state and our schools. 


Attached below are the three types of letters previously mentioned:


Ultimately, our hope is for these letters to be resourceful to help assist you on the path as you work closely with colleagues and administrators.  Our hope is that these letters assist you in advocating for your program and educating your leadership.


Please do not hesitate to reach out if there are any questions.

All my best,
Matt Flora  





  1. Singing relies on moving as little air as possible, not more. Low notes will exhale about 1⁄2 liter of air over 12 seconds, while how notes will exhale about the same over 5 seconds. However, because of the wider buccal embouchure, the flow rate of air is equal between high and low notes, and results in the same air motion. (Kahler/Hain)

  2. Methods of Transmission:

    1. Droplets: Larger particles, whose size and weight means they sink quickly to the ground

      and travel a maximum distance of 1 meter. This is the reason behind the 6 ft social

      distancing guideline. (Spahn/Richter)

    2. Aerosols: These are smaller particles not visible to the naked eye (<3 μm) that are

      generated in the airway. They can hang around in the air for a significant amount of

      time, and viruses can travel within. (Spahn/Richter)

    3. Surface spread: when droplets or aerosols come in contact with a surface, a person

      touches that surface, and then touches their face, depending on the viability of the virus

      present. Surface spread is less common but still possible. (Spahn/Richter)

  3. Transmission Methods and Singing:

    1. Droplets: No significant additional air movement occurs in front of a singer’s mouth during phonation, and most singing represents less air motion than normal breathing. Forceful articulation of consonants can create measurable airflow close to the mouth but has no detectable change in airflow at a distance of 2 meters. (Spahn/Richter) At a distance of 0.5 meters, almost no air movement can be detected during phonation, regardless of volume or pitch. This is independent of breathing method (diaphragmatic vs. costal). (Kahler/Hain) 2 meters can be assumed to be a protective distance against droplet infection even with forceful articulation.

    2. Aerosols: Aerosol formation increases with increasing speech volume. There are no scientific studies regarding aerosols during singing, to date. These aerosols rise, rather than fall, due to their lower specific density than air. This is not true of extremely humid air, however. These particles are the reason that ventilation is an important factor in room setup. (Spahn/Richter)

    3. Surface Spread: is not particularly different in a choral situation.

  4. Face masks represent a significant challenge to singers but also aid in protecting oneself and other. Traditional medical grade face masks have been shown to absorb >92% of respiratory

    particles ≥3 μm in diameter. (Spahn/Richter)

a. Surgical masks seem to produce the best clarity when worn while singing; cloth and N95

masks are more muffled but may block more particle transmission. (Univ. of Nebraska)

Room Setup:

1. Safety Distances:

  1. Kahler/Hain: 1.5 meters (liberal estimate). This is based not on singing, but on the

    possibility of someone coughing.

  2. Spahn/Richter: A radial distance of 2 meters.

  3. Echternach/Kniesburges: 2-2.5 meters in front, 1-1.5 meters to the side.

  1. Singers should be arranged all facing at least the same direction (unless facing away from each other is possible), with any escaping respiratory droplets going into the back of the head of the person in front, not their face. (Kahler/Hain)

  2. Popshields can be used to limit airflow and droplets instead of masks.

  3. Plastic/acoustic barriers can be set up to limit air flow between individuals. Consider hanging

    clear plastic shower curtains.

  4. Staggered arrangements are recommended to further increase distance.

  5. Social distancing while not rehearsing is still paramount.

  6. Ventilation:

    1. Kahler/Hain: Good ventilation is key. The air exchange rate should be increased from normal and ideally enter the room at the floor and extracted at the ceiling. Sideways airflow is not recommended as it can spread droplets; fans are not recommended. Convection from body heat of a large group will also create an ascending current, helping with ideal ventilation.

    2. Spahn/Richter: Mechanical ventilation (HVAC) is preferred over natural ventilation. The air exchange rate for mechanical ventilation is typically 4-8/hr, whereas natural ventilation is roughly 0.5-2/hr.

    3. NYSSMA: Increasing the standard ventilation rate of the room is highly recommended.

    4. ACDA: Recommended rate of air exchange is 10-25 L/s (liters/second) per person.

  7. Room Size, and VOLUME, is key. Sufficient floorspace will aid in distancing, and higher ceilings will increase the volume the air can be contained in, resulting in a smaller droplet/cubic meter

    of air count. Higher ceilings also allow the droplets to dwell longer above people, increasing the chance they will evaporate harmlessly. (Kahler/Hain)

a. Time spent in the rehearsal room is also a variable. Shorter times are of course linked with less possibility of spread. (Spahn/Richter)

  1. Doors should be propped open during entrance and exits times to prevent surface spread. (NYSSMA)

  2. Staggered entrance and exit times will limit student proximity. (NYSSMA)

  3. One way traffic patterns should be established to limit student physical interaction. (NYSSMA)

  4. Room should be arranged so minimize any possibility of surface spread; the less people have to

    touch, the better, including chairs.

  5. Use of acoustical shields is possible between rows or between individual singers. (ACDA)

  6. Singer microphones should be stored separate from each other and never shared. Individual

    singers are responsible for the cleanliness of their own microphone.

  7. Secure audio playback equipment for any room that will be used as a small rehearsal space, in

    absence of a student leader or keyboard. (ACDA)

Singer Strategies:

  1. Singers should wear face masks whenever possible, and ALWAYS when not singing. Fit is key;

    masks with gaps around the edges are less effective.

  2. Singers who even suspect they might have an illness should stay home. Singers who suspect they

    may have come into contact with an ill person should stay home.

  3. All persons should conduct a temperature check before entering the rehearsal room.

  4. Singers should not share any materials (music, folders, pencils, etc.)

  5. Singers should not store their materials in the classroom, but take them home each day.

  6. Singers should not cough, sneeze, or clear their throat without both a mask and doing it into

    their elbow, while turned away from others.

7. Singers must observe social distancing guidelines (6 ft) even when not formally rehearsing.
8. Singers should apply hand sanitizer regularly and wash hands for 20 seconds whenever possible.

9. All students should have a pitch pipe or keyboard app on their cellphone.


For Online Learning, Student Set Up/Guidelines:

  1. Choose a quiet room with a closed door for privacy and sound insulation. Request that others in the house allow for privacy during class time. Should be a “Safe Space.”

  2. Room should be light enough for student to be clearly seen on camera. Bring in an extra lamp if needed. Video must be ON in class meeting.

  3. Camera should be placed at face level.

  4. Computer or tablet should be close enough to allow for full face and neck/upper torso

    to be clearly seen on screen.

  5. Smart phone or other audio player with part tape recordings, keyboard or smartphone

    pitch-pipe/keyboard app, printed music folder, water if necessary, metronome, and


  6. All components should be charged or plugged in. Direct wired connection to router is

    preferable, rather than WiFi.

  7. Student should use headphones for audio if possible.

  8. Students should log on to class 10 minutes early to problem solve any technical issues.

  9. When using hand signals, make sure hand is visible on screen. Do it near the face.

  10. No eating or drinking (gum) during class time.

  11. Be dressed as you would for school. Present yourself well.

  12. No social media or looking at phone unless for class activity.

  13. Private chat note the teacher to be excused for a bathroom break.

  14. Turn off electronic distractions- automatic notifications, set phone to silent, etc.

In-Person Rehearsal Strategies:

  1. Outdoor rehearsals are ideal for infection control, but not music making. It CAN be used as an effective breakout room to practice anything not needing good acoustics (stretching, sight reading, rhythm, foreign language, etc.)

  2. Indoor spaces should be mechanically ventilated, even if not necessary for climate control. The rate of ventilation should be significantly increased over normal (i.e: using the HVAC fan even when the AC is not running).

  3. When possible, large groups should be broken into smaller groups in different rooms.

  4. If possible, a rehearsal can move between different rooms to limit time spent in one place.

    Breaks can also be taken in one room every 15 minutes or so to allow for ventilation time.

  5. Larger spaces/Higher Ceilings are better (rehearse in the auditorium if at all possible).

  6. Deliver materials to singers electronically and ask them to print at home. (ACDA)

  7. Pivot instructional strategies to reduce the number of singers singing at any one time (NYSSMA).

  8. Consider humming as an option in the learning process (NYSSMA).

  9. Use Audiation as a prevalent rehearsal strategy (ACDA).

  10. Use of student leadership/student-led instruction to allow for smaller group rehearsals.

  11. Possible activities in a rehearsal that are not singing-based (NYSSMA):

    a. Skill Building
    b. Literacy, recording themselves and submitting c. Projects
    d. Listening
    e. Composition

  1. Provide opportunities for singer social interaction often, even at a distance. They may need this more than music at the moment.

  2. Student Rotations: Students rotate room assignments across a 3 or 4 days, with face-to-face instruction in one of those days. Day 4 or 5 should be a combined rehearsal in a large room, like an auditorium that can accommodate distancing guidelines. (ACDA)

    a. Locate staff, teacher, or parent/adult volunteers to supervise small student groups.
    b. Students can participate in the class remotely using technology.
    c. Students can also complete non-singing music learning activities. These can be different

    for each room, enabling the teacher to plan a whole week of activities at once.
    d. Students can also meet in sectional rooms and rehearse with pre-recorded audio.

    Student-led instruction is also a possibility. Consider a stretching/yoga room. e. Combined rehearsals should include community building as a primary goal.
    f. Consider use of outdoor spaces for one of the rooms.

  3. Consider using AVE rehearsal time for Concert Choir Music

  4. Avoid any use of circle formations. (ACDA)

  5. See ACDA resource/report for sample lessons in all applications.

  6. Create and distribute accompaniment and voice part recordings for both in-person and

    electronically delivered rehearsals. (ACDA)

  7. Teach with a microphone to be heard with increased social distancing/through mask.

  8. Use digital platforms during in-person learning to facilitate a transition to online learning if

    necessary. (ACDA)

  9. Provide training for student leaders on how to plan/execute a successful rehearsal. Give them

    rehearsal goals/music spots ahead of time to facilitate planning.

  10. Plan for a daily livestream or recording of in-person instruction for those students who have to

    stay home. Secure technology to facilitate it, and a digital place to archive for student access.


  11. Use remote learning to focus on individual part and music literacy learning/assessment. Utilize

    in person or technology led instruction for ensemble building/singing.

Fully-Online Strategies:

1. Foreign language pronunciation work.
2. Guest composer/singer discusses their work and inspiration, followed by student Q&A.
3. Lead the class through an interactive online class or course. Share your screen using Zoom,

pausing for practice or homework during class. (Weir)
4. Facilitate a group discussion, promoting individuals un-muting as necessary.
5. Build in opportunities for students to speak and sing. Mostly they are muted, which is lonely.

Practice getting comfortable speaking or singing, AND MUTING AND UNMUTING. Sometimes spacebar can be used quickly. Ask questions to practice. (Weir)

a. Play a trivia game with mute-unmute-mute again as a focus. “What are the notes of a C major chord?” “What solfege is the 6th scale degree?” “How many beats are in a song of 30 measures in 3⁄4 time?” (Weir)

6. Individual students can prepare presentations to the class on any topic (poetry, composer, historical context, etc.)

7. Appoint a volunteer to monitor the chat for questions.
8. Break out groups for sectional or project work, student led with teacher guidance.

a. Leader can sing, and keep time, while others sing-a-long while muted. Leadership can rotate to ensure each student is learning and also to provide repetitive practice. Assessment is limited in this scenario, however. (ACDA)

b. Breakout room for stretches/Yoga
c. Mid Rehearsal, rotating breakout room for “Snack and Chat” for community

building/socializing. (ACDA)
d. Researching a song, poet, musical, style, composer, etc.

  1. Chor-Amor Methods Resources

  2. Share screen and discuss score markings (conductors pre-marked score)

a. Variation: Students mark scores together as professor marks in real time, using ForScore or GigBook apps (ACDA)

  1. Singing activities (choir unmuted):
    a. Sustained unison pitch on variety of vowels with hand signs
    b. Sustained chords with a variety of vowels with hand signs
    c. Sustained chords with conducted full range of dynamic fluctuation

  2. Singing Activities (Choir muted):

    1. Normal Warmup/Voice-building exercises. Check in with individual demonstrations from

      time to time.

    2. Ear-training and scale/interval training exercises (especially audiation).

    3. Students sing a line while you play/sing accompaniment or part.

    4. Students sing their own line with a recording of all the parts playing.

    5. Students learn all parts from top to bottom.

    6. Students sing one person at a time as a soloist with mic-unmuted.

  3. Be specific about practice times: “Practice mm 14-26 on your own for the next 90 seconds, then come back.”

  4. Screen record each rehearsal to archive and share with absent singers.

  5. Ask the singers for more ideas.

  6. Guest presenters- vocal development, leadership, sight reading, career.

  7. Develop hand signals for student feedback (especially when muted) (Weir):

    a. Thumbs up: Yes, ok, that worked for me, I liked it, I understand, it was easy.
    b. Hand Open and Flat, facing down: Nope, not ok, that didn’t work for me, I didn’t like it, I

    don’t understand, that was difficult
    c. Had open and Flat, Facing Down, and rotating back and forth: Maybe, kind of Ok, that’s

    almost/maybe worked for me, I sort of liked it, I semi-understand.                                                        d. Hand up as normal: ask a question.

  8. Hand Signals for Teacher use:
    a. Open, Flat Palm of Hand Facing Camera: Stop, or pause
    b. Gesturing forward circles in the air: Continue your activity                                                                 c. Finger pointing at Lips: Sing or Talk                                                                                                    d. Finger Pointing to Ear: Listen

  9. Provide accompaniment/part track recordings in advance, along with time-code points for various rehearsal sections. Singing with their own playback device eliminates latency issues. Must be an external device- singing with their own computer audio still creates latency.

  10. Provide opportunities at the end of each activity for the students to record their own voice and upload to you. This will give you a better idea of what they actually sound like than a webex/zoom audio stream.

  11. Jazz Rehearsal Ideas (Weir):

a. Reading: Start with basic reading- solfege, counting. Small 8 bar passages at a time. All

Singers read each part from top to bottom. Speak rhythms/Lyrics, teacher with all students muted, then everyone following a particular student, etc. Start with a Ballad (easiest), then do a swing tune or passage, latin, break into chords when ready.

  1. Jazz Theory: study the chord types, then arpeggiate them as a group, singing on scale degrees. Listen and do ear training quizzes- what chord type is this. Vocal group voicings- simple 4 part close voicings, figuring out what part each section is singing. Then sing some extensions (9, 11, 13, alterations). Move to inversions. Study the theory in actual repertoire (why is this chord hard to tune? Is this open or closed voicing? Where is the dissonance, and why?). Play a root an assign parts to different notes in a chord, ask them to find it themselves on “oo.”

  2. Listening: Guided listening. Refer to Jenn Barnes manual for more ideas. Things to listen for: Do I like it? How does it make me feel? What instruments are in the combo? Can I hear a bass progression? How are they using vibrato/tone/stylistic inflection/phrasing/conversationalism? How’s the blend/balance? Study the original tune, and listen to versions from different artists. Learn those artist backgrounds. Find other tunes by the same artist.

  3. Rhythmic Work: Listen to different styles for rhythmic grooves (swing, funk, Brazilian, 4/4, 2/2, jazz waltz, etc.). Tap the quarter note. Speak in rhythm the 8th subdivision on “doo-ba”- are they straight? Swung? Shuffle? Jamie Abersold Rhythmic etudes, keeping track of fundamentals (digit counting and accented/legato subdivision). Do the same exercises in a different style (swing to straight, for example). Do them backwards. Can you step at the same time? Tap?

  4. Learning Parts: Send different voice part sections (S, A, T, B) to separate online rooms to rehearse – assign a section leader. Use excerpts from your repertoire, have note texts for evaluation and grading. Use pre-created parts tracks if necessary.

  5. Scatting instruction?

Social/Community Ideas that work distanced or online:

1. Beginning of year picnic at a park- everyone brings their own food and beverage.
2. Gymnasium non-contact games/team building activities.
3. Create a Flipgrid introduction for the class. Consider a theme for every section in the choir.
4. Trivia games using Kahoot
5. Team Scavenger Hunt: List of 25 items are posted in chat, just before chorus is sent to breakout

room. Each room needs to collect 25 items in their houses and return to the main group when

complete. (ACDA)
6. Talent Showcase: Play an instrument, sing a song, show pet tricks, etc. Can be live or on FlipGrid

7. Hot Seat (4-5 people max). 1 person is “answerer;” everyone else in small group asks questions.

Share something you learned about someone else.
8. Circle Game. “Step forward if...” Start with everyone video off. Step forward by turning video on.

Those not stepping forward clap for those who “step forward.” As the moderator, keep this one

9. Talk about your favorite genre of music, gives insight to connections within group (plus rep

10. Include “snack and chat” in rehearsals to eliminate the social isolation of quarantine
11. Karaoke Breakout room!
12. Make a “celebrations” calendar and stick to it. Singer birthdays, donut days, pet parade days,

13. Consider a charity goal- food drive, adopt a family, service oriented.



  1. Consider delaying the use of school-owned uniforms in performance. (ACDA)

  2. Rethink performances: Live streamed? Pre-Recorded during class? A combination Live-stream

    with a small audience (perhaps one to two parents per student). (ACDA)

  3. Consider easier repertoire, and limit divisi as much as possible for faster part learning. Look for

    repertoire with pre-made digital learning resources. (ACDA)

  4. Rethink performance calendar; preparation time will increase. Perhaps no fall concert?

  5. Increase website and social media account activity to keep community engaged. (ACDA)

  6. Prepare traditional event recordings in advance (Homecoming, Golden Scholars, etc.). (ACDA)

  7. Consider a planned social web-conference, or online games to facilitate community building (as

    a substitute for ice cream social, for example).

  8. Plan for 1:1 mini voice lessons for students not available to come to school in extra after school


  9. If presenting a virtual concert, mix up groups and numbers to create more variety/sustained

    engagement, rather than going choir by choir.

  10. Consider Standing for rehearsal, limiting number of surfaces needing sanitation. Rotate students


11. Framework for Planning during COVID from Canadian Choral Organizations. 12. Boosters may need to invest in technology to facilitate.

a. Live streaming- Webcam, possible microphone, digital keyboard b. Hard drives for storage of video rehearsals
c. Various software.
d. Pro Zoom Membership


  1. “Singing in choirs and making music with wind instruments.” Christian J. Kähler (Prof. Dr.) and Rainer Hain (Dr.), Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynmaics, University of the Bundesweh Munich, Neubiberg German.

  2. “Risk Assessment of a Coronavirus Infection in the Field of Music.” Claudia Spahn and Berhnhard Richter, 2020. University Medical Center and University of Music Freiburg, Germany.

  3. “Ad-Hoc Committee Report The Future of Ensembles – in the COVID-19 Era.” New York State School Music Association, 2020.

  4. “ACDA COVID Response Committee Report,” 2020.

  5. “Seven Pedagogical Options For Online Jazz Choir,” by Michelle Weir.

  6. “Safer Singing During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: What We Know,” The Voice Foundation.

  7. “Singing in the time of Covid,” article summarizing results of a study conducted by                                  Drs. Echternach/Kniesburges, Munich University Medical Hospital.
  8. “Is Coronavirus Airborne? Evidence is Scant,” Article based on study completed                                       by


1. Part-Learning
a. My Choral Coach- Digital platform to help singers learn their parts and conductors to


  1. Musicianship

    1. MyMusicianship- Web-based literacy instruction, including benchmarks and self- progressing curriculum.


    3. Sight-Reading Factory- Unlimited exercises for sight reading practice.

    4. SmartMusic- Students can practice and assess their performance through composed music. Includes a library of pre-input choral music.

    5. Quizlet- Fun music-theory quizzes, flashcards, study guides.

  2. Live-Streaming

    1. CleanFeed- Provides higher quality audio signal during online meetings (zoom, webex,


    2. Jamulus- May enable real-time music collaboration with a small number of people (<3).

      Good for lessons.

    3. Upbeat music app-

  3. Recording/Tech/Sharing
    a. Flipgrid- Singers create videos viewable by group.
    b. Kahoot!-                                                                                                      c. Screencastify- Screen Recording app on Chrome- download from Chrome. Tutorial: 

       d. Midnight Music- Music education technology ideas/tutorials.

       e. Vocaroo- online voice recording.
       f. Playmeo- virtual subscription resource for fun games (team building, community, etc.)

      g. The Choral Stream- 24/7 stream of curated choral music can be used for                                                  listening/reflecting.

   4. Virtual Rehearsals

       a. GALA Choruses- Offers concise and clear guidance on how to facilitate a Zoom rehearsal.         

       b. Derrick Fox’s Professional Choral Collective

       c. ChorAmor- Virtual method ideas

       d. Zoom Rehearsal Tutorial-
           i. Part 1

          ii. Part 2

       e. Musichabit- Virtual courses in jazz concepts, including theory, ear training, improv, solo

          singing, and ensemble skills. By Michele Weir.

   5. Other:

      a. TMEA Resource Hub

      b. Curated list of Tech-Resources

Resources compiled by: Mr. Steve Hickman

VP of All-State Jazz and Show Choir 

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