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News & Views
Community music during the COVID-19 pandemic
Date posted: 16 March 2021

As the UK starts on the road to recovery and reopening after such a difficult winter, we've updated our COVID-19 information page to help you with planning your community music activity for the sunnier months ahead.

As always, we warmly encourage you to connect with our community via our Gatherings, social media, and Bulletin Board newsletter for support, friendship and inspiration. If you have any COVID-19 related resources you would like to share with fellow community musicians please do get in touch on info@soundsense.org.

When resuming “face-to-face” or "in-person" community music activity, we urge members to follow these three steps:

  • Make sure you follow the government rules and guidelines that apply to your country. The rules differ depending on where you operate in the UK, you can find links to relevant guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below.
  • Prepare a risk assessment for each community music activity you plan, specifically showing that you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. We have provided links to risk assessment templates below as well as helpful advice on safe working.
  • Where government guidance is not specific to your situation, make a record of your interpretation on your risk assessment so that you can refer back to your decision-making as required


Important note about insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic

We have been in touch with our insurer, who confirms that, as long as members are complying with the government guidelines for re-opening and social distancing, then the Sound Sense Public Liability Insurance policy (for individual members) will operate as normal.

We are also pleased to confirm that our PLI also covers members for the delivery of music sessions via online platforms, and that this information is now displayed on individuals' certificates. Members can download updated certificates as required via the Members Area Homepage.



The government has published the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England and explaining how restrictions will be eased over time.

Key dates for community musicians in this roadmap include:

8 March:   Schools and colleges open for all students; wraparound childcare

29 March:   Rule of 6 or two households outdoors; outdoor parent & child groups (up to 15 parents)

Step 2 (no earlier than 12 April):   All children’s activities, indoor parent & child groups (up to 15 parents); libraries and community centres reopen

Step 3 (no earlier than 17 May):   All but the most high-risk sectors will be able to reopen; COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place. So at this point you should be able to run, for instance, a community choir rehearsal so long as you are following current guidance regarding social distancing, hygiene, ventilation, etc.

Step 4 (no earlier than 21 June): All restrictions lifted.

DCMS has updated its guidance for people working in the performing arts to reflect the roadmap and to also to include specific guidance for organisers and performers in "non-professional activity" (see section 2.4).




Today, 16 March, Scotland has published its own timetable for easing restrictions:


Scottish Government guidance for the performing arts and venues sector was last updated on 8 January. The key thing to note is that non-professionals or groups which contain non-professionals may refer to this guidance for their activities but must at all times do so in line with the relevant local protection level and any national lockdown guidance:




On 12 March 2021, the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, announced that the stay-at-home restrictions would be replaced by a new interim stay local rule in Wales from 13 March 2021.



Northern Ireland

On 2 March, the Northern Ireland Executive announced a planned pathway out of the current restrictions. Unlike other nations, Northern Ireland has not published specific dates for the easing of restrictions yet other than for the phased return to school for some pupils with phase 1 from Monday 8 March and phase 2 from Monday 22 March.



General interest

Please note that the resources listed below may not reflect the very latest situation with regard to national and regional lockdown measures. You should always check publication dates and read in conjunction with the latest Government advice for your country.

Making Music has published a Covid-19 resource to help you answer the question "Can my group get back to in-person activities?" which tracks the changing guidance across the four nations of the UK:



Anyone engaged in teaching or delivering music activities online should check out the excellent support and resources offered by Sound Sense member NYMAZ through their Connect:Resound project:



ABCD, the Association of British Choral Directors, has collected a list of useful links and guidance, particularly with regard to singing activities:



Sound Sense member Sound Connections offers a wealth of freely available resources on its website, including videos of recent training sessions such as Building your resilience and keeping well through music and Delivering Music Activities Online with Children and Young People:



ISM has published a range of useful resources, including a webinar on preparing a risk assessment and guidance summaries for resuming private music teaching, performing and working with amateur music groups:



Creative Scotland   If you scroll down this page you will see the risk assessment templates for use by applicants to Creative Scotland's Open Fund. The templates use a "traffic light" system to assess the severity of risk and the need for action.



Our colleagues at the Musicians’ Union have produced detailed guidance for music teachers following the July updates to government advice for England. Note that you do not need to be an MU member to access this advice



Freiburg University of Music, Germany   Risk assessment of a coronavirus infection in the field of music – fourth update of 17 July 2020



Our colleagues at Music Mark have produced an excellent guide for music services and other music education providers planning activities in schools, including guidance on cleaning instruments made from delicate and/or natural materials that are likely to be damaged by common disinfectant products:



Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access at Leeds Museums & Galleries recently delivered a presentation on Spaces for Learning: Covid Secure learning and engagement with groups for ArtWorks Alliance members. Available to download below, the presentation slides provide a useful starting point for anyone starting to think about the safety issues involved for groups sharing spaces and handling objects.


Sound Sense has created a COVID-19 Risk Assessment template to help members assess the safety of your community music workshops. The template is unbranded - so that you can tailor it to your own needs - and is available to download below and can also be found on our Resources & Publications page.