• important information for Sound Sense members
News & Views
Working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
Date posted: 14 October 2020
Colleagues across the UK and beyond are developing resources to help music practitioners plan activity and assess risk in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our role in the ArtWorks Alliance network for participatory arts, we are collating a toolkit of information, guidance and templates relevant to Sound Sense members.

When resuming “face-to-face” 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 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 DCMS guidelines for the performing arts are updated frequently (the most recent version is 6 October) so please check here regularly for the latest information:


These DCMS guidelines should be read in conjunction with the current guidelines for social distancing and the safe-use of community facilities:



In the update of 14 August, DCMS confirmed that non-professionals can now take part in musical activity as long as current social distancing guidelines are followed. In addition, the extra restrictions on singing, wind and brass have been lifted, the crucial change reads:

"Additional mitigations, such as extended social distancing, were previously required for singing, wind and brass given concerns that these were potentially higher risk activities. DCMS commissioned further scientific studies to develop the scientific evidence on these activities, which has allowed us to reconsider these additional mitigations. Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance."

Today, 14 October, the new three-tier system comes into place which places additional restrictions on areas considered at high or very high alert level. You can find out more and check your local COVID alert level at:


ABCD, the Association of British Choral Directors, has prepared this helpful interpretation of the DCMS guidance. It’s intended for those involved in community-based adult choirs, but much of the advice can be applied to a wider range of musical activity:




On 21 August, the Scottish Government published it's guidance for the safe re-opening of the performing arts and venues sector in Scotland. Members should note that the guidance differs significantly from the parallel DCMS guidance for England. In particular, non-professional musicians and groups can only meet outdoors. Non-professionals participating in an organised outdoor activity managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club – can meet outdoors from 24 August. Organisers must comply with 2 metre physical distancing, hygiene measures, risk assessment processes and all other relevant guidance.

In addition, organised outdoor performing arts activities are not currently allowed in the Central Belt area due to additional restrictions in place from 10 - 26 October, further information is available in the latest update (9 October) of the guidance:





On 15 September, the Welsh Government published Rehearsing, performing and taking part in the performing arts: guidance for a phased return


You should note that, unlike DCMS in England, the Welsh Government still considers singing and the playing of wind and brass instruments to carry higher risks of transmission, and so additional measures are required - see section 3.19.

Activity throughout Wales needs to be planned in accordance with Wales-specific restrictions, in particular that meetings between extended households must take place outdoors. In addition several areas are subject to local lockdowns which further restrict travel and meetings between households. You can find the latest information here:



Northern Ireland

On 30 July, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland published In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, which brings together “developing best practice, legislation and guidance by the Government, NHS, PHA and HSENI in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”. It’s important to note that these guidelines still prohibit singing and the playing of wind and brass instruments by non-professionals.



General interest

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:



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.