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Author Topic: Any guidelines for distance from singers?  (Read 448 times)

Don Gspann

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Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« on: July 31, 2020, 05:09:59 pm »

I'm looking for some sort of "official", written guideline regarding safe distances from singers. Not just bad singers.
I know they have recommended there be no choirs for now, but I've "heard" distances of 20'-35' thrown about, but I can't confirm any of
these.  The only thing I've found so far is this :

https://www.nfhs.org/media/4029971/preliminary-recommendations-from-international-performing-arts-aerosol-study.pdf

Apparently, stay away from trumpet and trombone players!

If anyone can direct me to more information, it would be greatly appreciated. I have a customer who is trying to do an outdoor event with small skits
and singing.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2020, 05:19:55 pm »

It's a shit show. No one really knows. And no one is doing any research because they are tied up doing vaccine research.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2020, 05:26:01 pm »

I'm looking for some sort of "official", written guideline regarding safe distances from singers. Not just bad singers.
I know they have recommended there be no choirs for now, but I've "heard" distances of 20'-35' thrown about, but I can't confirm any of
these.  The only thing I've found so far is this :

https://www.nfhs.org/media/4029971/preliminary-recommendations-from-international-performing-arts-aerosol-study.pdf

Apparently, stay away from trumpet and trombone players!

If anyone can direct me to more information, it would be greatly appreciated. I have a customer who is trying to do an outdoor event with small skits
and singing.

Hi Don-

Why is the client asking you?  These are questions for your Local Authority/public health officer, not for a sound system provider.  I suspect there is some guidance out there (probably "don't do this") but I've found little in my looking around.  Not entirely sure about the reasons Justice sites, but for sure agree with him that most officials, researchers and observers have their hands full with current issues and not so much with the "what ifs" of coming up with a hard and fast rule for singers beyond "no."
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2020, 05:54:00 pm »

My daughter plays the flute. She's going into 10th grade. Her band director is getting spandex bell covers for all the brass players, which actually isn't unusual for brass players in marching band and drum and bugle corps.

But he's also getting some sort of special containment bags for the saxophones and clarinets to play their instruments through and a sock for the end joint and a mouthpiece guard for their flutes. I'm suspect that those things will make an appreciable difference and not limit their playability.

Ironically, one of the recommendations in that document is to cut a slit for the mouthpiece through the mask. Which effectively makes them useless. And if a slit cut through the mask is accessible for playing in band, then why use the mask at all?

Think about how much air an opera singer puts through their lungs. I wouldn't want to be in the same theatre with one of they had the corona.
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Don Gspann

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2020, 06:58:18 pm »

I donít know why theyíre still trying to do this event in the first place. Iím in agreement with both of you. The only reason theyíre asking me, is because I brought up the issues with sanitizing mics, etc. that they didnít give any thought to, and mentioned what I had hear from two different people. One was the friend of an epidemiologist, supposedly.
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Don Gspann

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2020, 07:00:10 pm »

Can we discuss recommended safe distances from horrible singers????
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2020, 07:24:17 pm »

I think direction and guidance needs to come from local public health officials, and in writing.  If the event producer is affiliated with a school, church, business or non-profit, I'm sure their Board would be keen on having an official document to point to, for two reasons:  let concerned parents, students, teachers & staff know that the appropriate persons were consulted; and to have a "defense of authority" should things go south and there are calls to pitchforks and torches. "We did what the health dept told us to do" is a defense...

As for cleaning mics... I'm working with fellow LABster Dan Mortensen on a proposed AES convention panel (October) on "coping with Covid."  The general guidance for wired mics is cleaning with a 70% isopropyl alcohol prep pad (like the nurse uses), keep the mic surfaces wet for a minute or so, longer can damage some finishes.  The wire mesh windscreen and foam liner can be cleaned in hot, soapy water, rinsed, and air dried.  I'm not telling you this will make your mics sterile or even "sanitary".  I'm telling you what will not damage your microphones.

For wireless mics the bigger challenge is keeping any liquid out of switches, contacts and push buttons.  Some rubberized buttons will leach their plasticizers and become brittle and break.  You may find it useful to use a black, unlubricated condom from bottom to the base of the windscreen. 
add a foam "clown nose" windscreen and consider it a 1-use item.  If different people are to use the mic, wear gloves and remove the used windscreen and condom, sanitize your gloves with soap/water or hand sanitizer, and then apply new coverings to the mic.  Don't forget to clean the portions of mic stands and cables the talent has touched.

That all said, surface-born transmission is not well documented.  Does it happen?  I'm pretty sure it can and has.  How much?  Far less than via air from what we're seeing.  Dan found a Seattle Post article from earlier in July (6th?) where several researchers and doctors were asked about surface transmission - do you sanitize your groceries, do you wipe down delivered packages and mail, etc.  Almost without exception these folks did not do those things.  Mostly they washed their hands after going to the store or after handling things, and used masks when not in their homes.

I won't tell you to blow off cleaning your gear because there is likely more to learn before dismissing this.  I think that even though surface transmission is very low, making a visible display of taking infection transmission seriously can help others see you're exercising your duty of care... even though the most likely way for folks to get the SARS-CoV-2 virus is completely out of the control of an audio person.

Can we discuss recommended safe distances from horrible singers????

Anywhere there's a vacuum should be far enough... ;)
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Mike Monte

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 08:26:26 pm »

My daughter plays the flute. She's going into 10th grade. Her band director is getting spandex bell covers for all the brass players, which actually isn't unusual for brass players in marching band and drum and bugle corps.

But he's also getting some sort of special containment bags for the saxophones and clarinets to play their instruments through and a sock for the end joint and a mouthpiece guard for their flutes. I'm suspect that those things will make an appreciable difference and not limit their playability.

Ironically, one of the recommendations in that document is to cut a slit for the mouthpiece through the mask.

I play (and teach) woodwinds professionally thus I can comment on the bold above:
It is impossible to play a woodwind instrument (flute, clarinet, saxophone, etc.) properly with a mask on.....period.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 10:10:50 pm »

I play (and teach) woodwinds professionally thus I can comment on the bold above:
It is impossible to play a woodwind instrument (flute, clarinet, saxophone, etc.) properly with a mask on.....period.
I too am a woodwind player, saxophone primarily, flute secondarily, and clarinet tertiaryily.

I will submit this picture of me, and these two Youtube videos:

(gee, it would be really nice if we could get a Youtube video window incorporated into the forum software).

https://youtu.be/cNgKv5fvsqs


https://youtu.be/pfQH2ppiP-g


The bigger issue for wind players will be wtf do you do with the condensation from the instrument? Brass players are taught to just dump  their spit valves where they sit. And even woodwinds can produce a significant amount of condensation from the warm air stream inside the tube of the instrument and the colder outside air around the body. And we're being told that it's the water droplets being exhaled that carry the virus.  :-\

There's just no way this works for singers or wind players.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 10:39:22 pm by Justice C. Bigler »
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2020, 11:51:32 pm »

There is good evidence that Covid-19 can be spread by the airborne route, that is by just breathing, talking or singing. This is different from the droplet spread that is probably the major mode of spread, but there is no good research available to show how often or rarely airborne transmission happens. There is also good evidence that approximately 40% of people with Covid-19 infection have no symptoms, and that they can spread the virus during this asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic period. Airborne spread is probably the best explanation for the Skagit County Choir practice outbreak in which 32 of the 61 attendees in the rehearsal became infected at the rehearsal and were confirmed by Covid-19 laboratory tests and an additional 20 of the 61 became ill with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 but did not get tested, and 2 of the 32 died. Even so, droplet spread is probably much more common than airborne spread.
Given these very sobering epidemiologic observations, spread of Covid-19 infection from one performer to another, or to stage crew or others in the area, or from an asymptomatic singer or horn player to another musician or crew member is a very real possibility. To keep performers and crew safe, the Directors' Guild, IATSE (I saw your shirt Justice!), SAG/AFTRA and the Teamsters have developed a guidance for movie sets that would be appropriate, perhaps with some modifications, for music performers and crew including singers and horn players.
It is the best prevention program I have seen, developed with academic consultants (several of whom I know, and they are all outstanding), however it is neither simple nor inexpensive. The document is posted here:

http://www.dga.org/-/media/Files/TheGuild/Coronavirus-Resources/ProductionSafetyGuidelines_June2020.ashx?la=en&hash=9246490CAF5E1B5E07E3D62FA6C0A095FB14F45D

This program involves dividing the set into 3 zones Zone A is the set where activity occurs without masks or physical distancing, Zone B is everywhere else on the set where universal masking, hand hygiene, stringent physical distancing practices are rigidly enforced, and Zone C is the outside world, homes, cars, hotels etc.
No one enters Zone A or Zone B for the first time without a negative Covid-19 test in the past 24 hours plus medical clearance. After that first day, all who enter Zone A get tested 3 or more times a week, all who enter Zone B get tested once a week. Some circumstances (eg, intimate scenes) require a rapid turnaround test or more frequent testing than that. Masks are N95 which require medical clearance to use and fit testing of each individual to make sure the mask does not leak. Masks with exhalation valves are not allowed.
This is a safe but cumbersome and expensive program, but the cost should be seen as the (increased) cost of doing business under the current pandemic circumstances.
I think a program based on this program could and should be developed for live music performances and, although not perfect, it would go a long way toward protecting performers from each other and from other coworkers and audience, and protecting others from the occasional asymptomatic infected performer. Also, there needs to be a way to deal with the financial consequences of a performer getting sick, or else people will be under intense pressure to perform or work even if symptomatic, and that can lead to superspreader events and general propagation of the epidemic.
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Re: Any guidelines for distance from singers?
¬ę Reply #9 on: July 31, 2020, 11:51:32 pm ¬Ľ


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