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School of Music COVID-19 Updates

The following policies pertain to in-person music rehearsals, performances, lessons, and practice.  The policies are grounded in guidance from federal, state, and University sources, but may vary from the specific recommendations of these sources in order to suit our institution.  School of Music policies are not intended to contradict government or University mandates, but may exceed their requirements in some cases.  

The Minnesota Department of Health has also issued guidance for musical activities, available here.

General Guidelines

No student is required to attend classes, lessons, or rehearsals in-person.  No one should be pressured to do in-person activities if they do not feel safe doing so.  The details of any in-person activity and the safety precautions that will be used must be disclosed to all participants in advance.  

In-person group activities should be limited to the smallest groups possible, and the duration of in-person activity should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.  

The School of Music only approves activities and rehearsals directly related to the curriculum. Personal and extracurricular group activities and rehearsals are not allowed.  If an activity can be done remotely or at home, it must be.  Extracurricular solo musical practice is allowed.  

Non-University guests are not allowed in the building without prior written permission from the School of Music leadership.  If granted written permission to bring a Non-University guest to Ferguson or Ted Mann Concert Hall, you are responsible for letting the guest into and out of the facility.

Sanitization supplies are provided in each teaching space.  Use these supplies to sanitize the surfaces you touch before and after you use them.  Email music@umn.edu with the room number if supplies are running low.  

Classroom equipment has been pre-set to accommodate social distancing.  If you move chairs or other items to make space for a rehearsal, you must move them back to their designated place when you are finished.  Similarly, some rooms have been outfitted with additional technology to accommodate distance learning.  If you modify these setups in order to connect to your own equipment, you must return them to their original state when you are finished.  

In-Person 

Students are not required to come to campus for instruction and can not be required to use on-campus resources for instruction. For example, the zero-latency studios may not be used for distanced instruction or lessons, as it would require students to come to campus. 

Activities that don’t involve any wind instruments or singing must follow the University of Minnesota’s guidelines for in-person instruction: 

  • Masks must be worn at all times. 
  • 6-foot or greater social distancing is required.  
  • Groups may not exceed 50 people, including instructors.

For activities that do involve wind instruments or singing, refer to "Curricular Activity and Protocol" requirements below.

Recitals

Students who wish to use Ultan Recital Hall for their recital performance and dress rehearsals may continue to do so, but no student is required to come to campus to perform their recital. On-campus recitals must be voluntary, and the consent of all parties involved must be made explicit. Students should discuss their recital options with their instructors.

Practice Rooms

The practice rooms will remain available. More information is available below in "Ferguson Hall Access and Protocol" and on the School of Music Intranet.

Studios and Office Access

Instructors and employees will continue to have access to their studios and offices. However, all work that can be done remotely must be done remotely. Don’t come to campus unless it’s necessary for your work.

Any exceptions to these policies require prior written permission from the director, Michael Kim.

Curricular Delivery and Protocol

Academic Classes

Academic Classes (lectures, graduate seminars, etc.) will be offered virtually, blended, or in-person based on instructor and student preferences, and classroom physical distancing capacities. The classroom instructor can exclusively determine that their lecture classes are to be delivered remotely, and in the case of in-person classes, all student requests for remote classroom instruction, grading, and testing must be honored. Synchronous and asynchronous virtual technology will be utilized to assure distanced delivery of courses as requested and necessary, including to our international student population. The instructor’s preferred mode of curricular delivery will be noted in our online course catalog, and instructors will be in touch with students regarding fall semester plans. Absolutely no in-person instruction is to take place off-campus at any time.

Applied Lessons

Applied lessons for instrumentalists, pianists, and organists will be delivered remotely (via Zoom, FaceTime, or other mutually agreed upon media platform), in-person, or through a combination/hybrid of these two modes depending on instructor and student preferences, and facility physical distancing capacity. Instructors can exclusively determine that all lessons in their respective applied studios are to be delivered remotely. Students should contact their studio instructor directly to determine how their lessons will take place. For those instructors delivering lessons in-person, any student requests for remote applied instruction must be honored. The School of Music is closely monitoring peer-reviewed studies and consulting medical experts with regard to wind and brass instruments. These studies and consultations will be taken into account in providing the most up-to-date mitigation strategies and safety measures for any in-person lessons that take place. Applied instructors and students should contact each other in advance of the fall semester to determine mode of instruction, scheduling, and location. Applied instructors planning to use alternative locations for applied lessons should make space reservations through the space reservation request process on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required). Supportive audio and video equipment will be provided to the greatest degree possible in Ferguson Hall applied studios and larger spaces as available to maximize teaching options for students and faculty, especially for those students who do not have adequate access to high-speed internet services and appropriate instruments. Absolutely no in-person instruction is to take place off-campus at any time.

  • Face coverings and appropriate instrument PPE must be used at all times.  
  • 6-foot or greater social distancing is required.  
  • Lessons with wind instruments or singers should not exceed 30 minutes.
Activities Involving Singers: Applied Voice Studios, Choral Ensembles, and Opera

There will be continuing consultation with medical experts and the latest peer-reviewed studies to determine what the School of Music can safely provide in terms of an appropriately physically distanced in-person or hybrid curricular experience. You will be updated, and your vocal, choral, or opera professors will be in touch with students regarding plans, scheduling, and other protocol. Instructors may exclusively determine that their curriculum is to be delivered remotely, and all student requests for continuing remote delivery of curriculum in these areas must be honored. Absolutely no off-campus, in-person instruction is to occur at any time.

  • Masks must be worn by singers at all times.  
  • 6-foot or greater social distancing is required. Greater distance is strongly recommended whenever possible.  
  • Groups involving singers should not exceed 10 people unless outdoors or in a very large space, such as the concert hall. Singing groups may not exceed 25 people.  
  • Singers should be staggered to avoid placing any individual directly in front of a source of high-velocity aerosols. Singers should face in the same general direction to avoid pointing the source of high-velocity aerosols at another individual’s face. 
Chamber Music, World Music, and Percussion Ensembles

Chamber music, world music, and percussion ensembles will take place in-person, remotely, or a combination of these two modes based on instructor and student preferences, and distanced facility capacities. Instructors may exclusively decide to coach their groups remotely. Those instructors who choose to coach in-person must accommodate requests from groups or individual students who request remote instruction. Off-campus, in-person coaching is strictly forbidden.

Class Piano and Keyboard Skills

Class piano and keyboard skills will take place in-person, remotely, or a combination of these two modes based on instructor and student preferences. Given the limited physical distancing capacity of the Ferguson Hall keyboard lab, a likely scenario will be to form two pools of students per section of class piano or keyboard skills. With two classes weekly, each pool of students will alternate in-class and synchronous instructional delivery. Instructors may exclusively decide to teach their classes remotely, and all students who request remote instruction will be accommodated. A limited number of digital keyboards will be made available to students on a first-come, first-serve basis for those students who do not have personal access to a keyboard. Instructors will be in touch with their respective sections before the fall semester begins to outline relevant protocols and plans. Absolutely no off-campus, in-person instruction is to occur at any time. 

Activities involving wind instruments
  • Face coverings and appropriate instrument PPE must be used at all times.
  • 6-foot or greater social distancing is required; 9 feet or greater in front of trombones.  
  • Players should be staggered to avoid placing another individual directly in front of a source of high-velocity airborne particles. Players should face in the same general direction to avoid pointing the source of high-velocity airborne particles at another individual’s face.
  • Groups involving wind instruments may not exceed 25 people, including instructors.  
  • Rehearsals should not exceed 30 minutes.  
  • Spit valves must not be drained onto the floor or out in the open air. Use a rag or sealed container to catch the fluid and prevent the particles from becoming aerosolized.
Large Instrumental Ensembles

Auditioned instrumental ensembles in the School of Music plan to follow a hybrid learning model. The Ensemble Office will contact graduate students to help determine the format and plan for the beginning of the semester. Any in-person activities will be modified to meet facility physical distancing capacities and mandated health protocols. See "Activities involving wind instruments" and "Activities involving singers" above for further details. All student requests for remote instruction are to be accommodated. No rehearsals or performances are to take place off-campus.

Music Education

For music education, field experience is a critical component of learning to teach and required by state licensing rules. There are still many unknowns about how field experience will be addressed. The music education faculty will be in touch with music education students as the situation unfolds. In the meantime, if you have an urgent question, please feel free to reach out to Associate Professor Keitha Hamann via email at haman011@umn.edu

Music History and Music Theory Placement Exams

As in past years, all incoming graduate students must take the music history diagnostic exam during Welcome Week. This year, however, the multiple choice exam will be online in January. Current music students should refer to the School of Music Intranet for more details: z.umn.edu/musicintranet

Due to concerns about social distancing and online test security, the Theory division will administer entrance exams the first Tuesday afternoon/evening of the spring semester (January 19, 2021), rather than during Welcome Week. Please see the School of Music Intranet* for a detailed description of exam preparation tools, expectations, and courses.

*You must be logged into your UMN account to view this page.

Music Therapy

The music therapy faculty are committed to providing a rigorous education to their students. Michael Silverman and Edward Schwartzberg will touch base with all music therapy students. Please direct any questions about the modality of music therapy course delivery to Professor Silverman, Director of Music Therapy, at silvermj@umn.edu.

Student Recitals

Student recitals will continue to be scheduled and take place throughout the spring. As usual, student recitals are to be scheduled by the standard recital booking process as outlined on the School of Music Intranet*. Live-streaming is available in the recital hall using the 1:Button recording system. Because of increased demand for Ultan Recital Hall this semester, some recitals may need to be in other spaces in Ferguson Hall. Recording or live streaming equipment will need to be provided by the user in these other spaces.
*You must be logged into your UMN account to view this page.

Ferguson Hall will not be open to the public, and as such, student recitals will not be open for public attendance.  

Recital attendance will be determined by state mandate. Attendance is limited to UMN faculty, staff, and pre-approved guests of the student giving the recital (such as parents, siblings, or caregivers) up to a total limit of six people. The student giving the recital must request approval of the six guests as part of the recital request process outlined on the School of Music Intranet. The student is responsible for bringing their guests into the building and informing guests of all University policies, including social distancing and face-covering requirements.

  • All wind instrumentalists and vocalists should observe the maximum physical distancing possible. 6-foot distance between musicians, 6 foot distance between spectators, and 12 feet between performers and any spectator is required.The recital hall will be cleaned once per day, and sanitization supplies will be available backstage for the users of the hall.
  • Recital receptions are not permitted under any circumstances.

On-campus recitals must be voluntary, and the consent of all parties involved must be made explicit. 

Ferguson Hall Access and Protocol

Administrative Offices & Staff

We have prepared a variety of virtual modalities that will enable a wide and timely range of services to the SoM community.

 The majority of administrative staff members will be working remotely, with a rotating contingent of individuals onsite.

Applied Studios

For those faculty and students conducting in-person lessons, physical distancing of at least six feet minimum must be maintained at all times.
 
Rooms should be allowed to sit empty between users, in order for aerosols to settle and the ventilation system to cycle contaminated air out of the room.  The School of Music staff will not schedule back-to-back events, and all space users should plan for appropriate breaks. 

Classrooms and teaching studios: 30 minute breaks between users are recommended, 60 minute breaks are preferred when possible. 

Instructors should wipe down high-touch surfaces between lessons (sanitization supplies will be provided for teaching studios). Instructors are encouraged to schedule time between each private lesson whenever possible for the air to circulate and refresh to the greatest degree possible between lessons.  

 All applied lessons must follow our policies for social distancing and PPE use. No exceptions to the use of PPE for private instruction are allowed without prior written approval from Director Michael Kim.

Building Hours for Ferguson Hall

Ferguson Hall will be accessible to all University students, faculty, and staff with an active U Card, but will not be open to the general public. An active U Card will be necessary in order to swipe into the building during University hours (6:00 am–midnight, daily), and there will be no unlocked public hours. Though security patrols and University of Minnesota Police will be monitoring campus facilities, Ferguson Hall security is nonetheless the joint and shared responsibility of our community. Please ensure that you do not allow unauthorized people into Ferguson Hall or Ted Mann Concert Hall. Those who willfully violate this mandate will have their U Card Ferguson Hall access privileges revoked, and other disciplinary action may result. 

Classrooms and Computer Lab

All classroom capacities have been reduced to allow for 6-feet physical distancing, in line with the Office of Classroom Management’s guidelines. The room capacity will be posted on the door, and some seating may be marked or pre-set to indicate six-feet social distancing. All classrooms and the computer lab will be cleaned once per day Monday–Friday. Sanitization supplies will be available in every classroom for use throughout the day as needed.

Rooms should be allowed to sit empty between users, in order for aerosols to settle and the ventilation system to cycle contaminated air out of the room.  The School of Music staff will not schedule back-to-back events, and all space users should plan for appropriate breaks. 

  • Classrooms and teaching studios: 30 minute breaks between users are recommended, 60 minute breaks are preferred when possible.
Common Areas

Furniture in the common areas of the building will be reduced and/or reorganized to facilitate physical distancing. Students are allowed to use common areas for the internet necessary to attend remote classes if they are following physical distancing guidelines. Students in common areas should use headphones or earbuds to be considerate of others using the space. Facilities Management is providing enhanced cleaning services for public areas and restrooms.

Instrument Lockers

Students enrolled in music courses will be able to rent instrument lockers by filling out a request form on the School of Music Intranet. Lockers will not be available to students who are not enrolled in music classes.*You must be logged into your UMN account to view the intranet.

Music Library

The Music Library (located in the basement of Ferguson Hall) will be temporarily closed, but all of our materials (books, scores, recordings, and more) are still available to borrowers. For updated information on accessing University Libraries materials, services, and spaces, visit our Using the Libraries during COVID-19 page. For help with research, reference, or other Libraries-related questions, please contact Jessica Abbazio, Music Librarian, at jabbazio@umn.edu.  

Offices and Teaching Studios

Meetings must be done virtually to the greatest extent possible. This includes all student meetings, instructor office hours, and advising sessions.
 
Faculty, staff, and TA's must pay special attention to bring their office and studio keys to campus. Individuals who forget to bring keys will be referred to the Facilities Management phone line to place a service request. FM hotline: (612) 624-2900.
 
The Facilities Management custodial crew will continue to perform regular cleaning in offices and teaching studios, which include dusting, spot wiping, and vacuuming.  Neither FM nor the School of Music is able to provide frequent disinfection of these spaces. Office and teaching studio occupants are encouraged to clean and disinfect surfaces in their space as needed. Cleaning materials will be provided to each teaching studio and can be made available upon request for private offices.  
 
Offices with reception desks or other high-traffic areas will be provided with protective shielding at employee workstations. 

NOTE:  Office/studio waste bins will no longer be emptied or cleaned by custodians. The office occupant will be expected to empty their office waste into the appropriate hallway bin, beginning Summer 2020. Ferguson Hall is transitioning to organics recycling (composting). Organic waste bins will be available in all public trash areas. All University buildings are being transitioned to this new system over several years. To offset the increased labor involved in collecting compost material, office waste must now be bussed to hallway receptacles by the office occupant.  

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor spaces may be used for instruction, including the Ferguson/Ted Mann plaza, Ferguson Hall amphitheater, and Ted Mann Concert Hall loading dock as weather permits. Physical distancing will still be required in these spaces, and reservations must be made through the Student Services Office via the reservation instructions available on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required for viewing).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Masks or other face coverings must be worn in accordance with state and university guidelines. Exceptions and modifications are allowed for individuals with medical conditions that prevent wearing a mask. 
  • Masks should meet the CDC’s recommendations for non-medical use PPE.  Users should not use PPE reserved for medical professionals.  
    • Masks may be breathable, but should pass the ‘tissue test.’  (see below)
    • Masks made of stretchy materials, such as neck gaiters, are not recommended.  
    • Multiple layers of material are preferable to one layer.  
    • Masks with an exhalation valve are strongly discouraged. 
  • PPE must be used by musicians during any in-person group music activity or lesson. This includes specialized musician PPE such as brass instrument bell covers, woodwind bags, singer masks, and other specialized musician masks.  Users are not required to use a specific brand of musician PPE, but it must meet the standards listed below. If a musician’s PPE doesn’t meet these standards, they may be required to use University-issued PPE.  
    • It should be designed to cover all possible sources of airborne particles generated by the musician and instrument and trap them within the covering.  
    • Holes are allowed for the passage of mouthpieces, headjoints, and hands, but should be designed to minimize the escape of airborne particles as much as possible.  
    • Musician and instrument PPE should be made from materials meeting the same basic criteria as non-medical masks and face coverings. Materials that have not been lab tested to demonstrate effective filtration of aerosolized particles generated by wind instruments* should be able to pass the “tissue test” described below
    • Pantyhose, spandex, nylon, and other stretchy materials should not be used for PPE, as there is growing evidence that they may actually cause more particle aerosolization than no PPE at all.** Imagine a tightly stretched nylon bell cover behaves like a resonating drum head.  If you pour water on a drum head then vibrate it by striking it or by placing it next to a very loud sound source, the water will spray off of the head in fine particles. Similarly, a stretchy bell cover may aerosolize condensation as it resonates. Limp, inelastic materials are less likely to exhibit this aerosolizing behavior.
    • If a mask with a mouthpiece hole is prohibitive to the proper functioning of a brass or reed instrument, the player may wear a normal face covering and temporarily move it aside while actively playing their instrument, but must immediately replace it over their nose and mouth during any rest. All exhaled breath must pass through and be filtered by either a face covering or by instrument PPE. Masks with a closable mouthpiece hole are strongly preferred whenever possible, and are the safest option for the player, as they also filter inhaled air.

* He, R., Gao, L., Trifonov,  M., Hong, J., (2020) Journal of Aerosol Science, Aerosol generation from different wind instruments
** Ongoing wind-instrument study (see appendix D):  https://www.nfhs.org/media/4294910/third-aerosol-report.pdf
 and Fischer, E., Fischer, D., (2020) Science Advances, Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech

  • The Tissue Test:  
    In the absence of data certifying the filtration efficiency of a given PPE material (e.g., FDA or NIOSH certifications such as “N95”), you may use the ‘tissue test’ to evaluate your material. This test doesn’t indicate the filtration efficiency of the material, but it will show if a material is a severely insufficient barrier to airborne particles. It’s also a very good indicator of how well the material reduces air velocity. Reducing the velocity of airborne contaminants increases the effectiveness of social distancing. 
    • Hang a disposable facial tissue about 12 inches in front of your face while completely covering your nose and mouth with the mask or PPE material. The materials should be pulled to the same tension as when in use as PPE.  
    • Blow air through the material in the direction of the tissue. Don’t cheat - blow hard!
    • The tissue should not move. If you can move the tissue by blowing air through the material, it probably shouldn’t be used as PPE. If your PPE material fails the tissue test, additional layers of material can be added until it passes.
  • The School of Music will provide one set of washable, reusable, musician-specific PPE for all music students and faculty per academic year, free of charge. If the University-issued PPE is redesigned or improved it will be replaced free of charge, as will defective PPE. Students are responsible for providing their own PPE if they lose or don’t use the University-issued PPE. Replacements can be purchased from the University or from the vendor of their choice, so long as it meets the requirements listed above.  
  • Some spaces are equipped with an in-room HEPA air purifier.  
    • The purifier should be run before, during, and after the activity. 
    • It’s strongly recommended to position the purifier intake in front of the primary source of airborne contaminants whenever possible, such as a wind instrument’s bell, or in front of a singer.  
Practice Rooms

The most up-to-date information about the practice room hours is always posted on the School of Music Intranet (UMN login required). Priority will be given to music majors, though music majors are strongly encouraged to utilize off-campus practice options to the greatest extent possible, given facility physical distancing limitations, and the need to maximize the de-densification of Ferguson Hall.

In order to enforce this policy, all practice rooms will only be accessible by obtaining a key from the monitor station. No students will be given direct u-card access to the practice rooms. The monitor will track the break times in each space. 

All keys and other items distributed by the monitor station staff will be disinfected after each use. 

All practice rooms will be cleaned once per day. Additional disinfectant will be available at the practice room monitor station for students who request it, and all users will be reminded to observe good hygiene when using the practice rooms: washing hands before and after use, avoiding face-touching, and wearing face coverings to the greatest extent possible.

In order to minimize the amount of contact students have with each other, all students will be assigned a specific practice room which they will share with a few other students. Schedules for these rooms may be arranged between the students assigned to the rooms.
Students can purchase practice room access on the School of Music Intranet.

  • No more than one person may be in a practice room at a time.  You will be warned once if you violate this policy, and lose practice room access if you violate this policy a second time.
  • You are required to wipe down the surfaces you touch in the practice room.  Wipes are available at the monitor station.  
  • Keyboardists, string players, and percussionists must wear a mask at all times.  Wind players and vocalists must wear a mask while not playing, and are strongly encouraged to use musician specific PPE while playing.  
  • Students may only use the practice room they’ve been assigned, and should use their assigned google calendar to coordinate practice times with other users of that space.  
  • A one-hour break between practice room users will be enforced by the monitor station.  Students are strongly encouraged to plan for a one-hour break between practice times by using the google calendar.  The one-hour break will be enforced regardless of the google calendar schedule.  
  • If students have schedule conflicts with the other users of their assigned practice room, they should first try to work it out with the other individual directly.  If that fails, email music@umn.edu for assistance.  
  • During a typical year, the practice rooms are reserved for Music Majors from 10:00am - 3:00pm, Monday through Friday.  This policy will not be enforced while pandemic restrictions are in effect. 
Ted Mann Concert Hall

As a large venue that hosts public audiences, the concert Hall will be guided by a state-mandated and approved COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which defines policies and procedures for social distancing, individual health monitoring, hygiene, cleaning, audience communications, and employee protection. These guidelines will be in line with MN Department of Health, CDC, and University policies. The plan can be made available upon request. We are still in the process of determining how to best accommodate public audiences in TMCH.  

Ventilation

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have issued guidance for operating HVAC systems while pandemic conditions exist. A special workgroup reviewed this guidance and developed a list of strategies that can reduce the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-COV-2 in University facilities. The School of Music's air handling equipment will be operated based on the strategies developed by this group, and the School of Music will work with Facilities Management, Energy Management, and other campus partners to ensure our air handling infrastructure is operating as effectively as possible.

It has truly been a challenging time on numerous fronts, but I continue to be moved and greatly heartened by how resilient our community has been in the face of this uncertainty and adversity. Your creativity, heart, talent, and dedication has given me more confidence than ever in our collective ability to overcome the challenges we are facing, and to take the School of Music to even greater heights of prominence and accomplishment.

It is critical that we collectively commit as a community to the School of Music, University, and state mandates and guidelines. It is not only about consideration for the health and welfare of our colleagues in the School of Music—but also about protecting our loved ones at home, and the more vulnerable members of our society. You are all required to abide by these guidelines, which will be strictly enforced at all times in Ferguson Hall and Ted Mann Concert Hall. Any violation of these mandated guidelines may result in the revoking of Ferguson Hall access privileges, and other disciplinary action as warranted.

I know the above is a lot of information to digest. My aim is to keep you informed to the greatest extent possible given the shifting landscape, and as always, the health and safety of our awesome SoM community will always be the primary guiding principle. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. I am truly looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the School of Music this fall, and you have my complete commitment, and the full commitment of SoM faculty and staff to continue providing the best possible educational experience and service we can come this Fall and beyond. It continues to be my privilege to serve all of you, and many thanks for your continued patience and grace.

Sincerely,

Michael Kim, DMA
Director & Professor