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Covid-related questions for members who play in orchestras/bands ...

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
The two groups I am immediately concerned about are the Café's ensemble, which is currently an octet, and the orchestra I usually play with on a Thursday evening. The latter is only small - about 15 - 18 at most. We know from a survey of members that for the planned resumption on 1st October there will only be 8 members present - the rest choosing to wait (generally older with health conditions).

Both groups meet in village halls, both groups can be more than adequately socially distanced. I see no issues for these groups meeting. But, we seem to be being advised that they can't.

And yet, for example, your local rugby club (provided it is affiliated to RFU) is permitted to have regular training for up to 20 players at a time for 75 minutes which includes 15 minutes of full contact... Other organised sports can do so too.

Amateur music making in the UK has MORE participants every week than amateur football does.

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

David Dorning

Senior Member
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Too true, the advice just isn't consistent with common sense. I can see the value of having simple rules but the UK rules are simplistic and so no use to anyone. I think our MD figured the police are going to make any decisions on the ground, went and asked the "what if" question, and got a clear answer.


Well-Known Member
After one Covid-secure rehearsal last week (which worked pretty well), our big band is suspended from rehearsing again now. The UK rules that came in on Monday appear to prevent rehearsals of groups with more than six members, even with a Covid-secure venue and a proper risk assessment (as we had).

We have been waiting on the promised guidance for amateur music ensembles from the Government (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) that was supposed to be issued before the law came into force on Monday. Sadly, the DCMS hadn't issued that guidance until today.

We had written to our local MP for consideration relating to amateur music groups, but the somewhat negative reply from the MP's office has been taken by some band members as a definitive interpretation that a band rehearsal would be breaking the law.

Therefore we are not rehearsing this week.

But I have just spotted on the Making Music website that DCMS has today (17th September) issued new guidance that says:

Carry on singing and playing
Today, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed that:
‘from 14 September non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.’

Good news for those music groups in England that have support from their stakeholders for organising in-person rehearsals and are able to write the required comprehensive risk assessment and put mitigation measures in place.
Making Music members can use our risk assessment guidance and template to assist them with this.

Venues may present a barrier to returning to in-person rehearsals, depending on their own situation. In terms of guidance, however, Action with Communities in Rural England’s (ACRE) statement on 15 September provides a clear interpretation that allows community spaces to start or continue hosting amateur activity, provided there is no mingling.

Maybe our 17-piece jazz orchestra can define each section (saxes, trumpets, trombones, rhythm) as a group and write rules for keeping the sections separate, not just when playing but also when arriving, leaving and on a break.

At least my saxophone quartet is able to get together for the first time in six months next week.



Sax-Mad fiend!
Guidelines for England have just confirmed that rehearsals can take place within Covid secure guidance, social distancing & no mingling!


Sax-Mad fiend!
Guidelines for England have just confirmed that rehearsals can take place within Covid secure guidance, social distancing & no mingling (as shown in previous images of message from ISM)
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