Music Department COVID-19 Plan

Please also refer to the Goshen College policies regarding the novel coronavirus (please note specifically the face mask policy)COVID-19: Returning to Campus Plans and Updates | Emergency & Crisis Notification.

Practice Rooms | Private Lessons | Music Ensembles | Performances

Due to the particular challenges due to the novel coronavirus, the music department has devised the following protocols to help ensure a strong music education in ways that promote health safety.  We understand that some of the protocols unique to music will mean the development of specific and routine habits, especially regarding the use of practice rooms, and that at times the learning experiences will be different than before.  Our highest priority is always that we provide a music learning milieu that is full of meaning and musical growth, and as we work together, as faculty and students, we will find that our musical community has grown stronger, more resilient, more flexible, and a greater appreciation for one another.

Regarding classes, many of these will be in-person, but some may utilize a hybrid model of in-class and online learning, while a few will emphasize on-line instruction, as in the case of aural skills because of the amount of singing involved.  Each professor will be clearly explaining their classroom protocols and approaches.

Please carefully read through the following, with the understanding that change of protocols may occur depending on what is best for music learning and everyone’s health safety.

Practice Rooms

  • We have set up four practice rooms specifically for students requiring virtual lessons, as well as spaces for off campus adjunct teachers if needed. These practice rooms would be only available for private lessons during the day for virtual lessons.
  • We are requesting that there always be a 30-minute lag between uses in a practice room, whether for the purposes of a zoom lesson or between different students practicing in the same space.
  • Please sign up for specific practice room times, maintaining a 30-minute separation between usage.  After leaving a practice room please print your name and the time you are exiting the practice room, so others know when they may go in after the 30-minute lag.  When leaving a practice room take all your books and music, those left behind may be confiscated.
  • There are sanitation stations at the end of each hallway. Please sanitize your hands before and after using a practice room.  Please, use the cloth provided, and spray the sanitizer on the cloth to also sanitize any surface you may have touched during your practice session.
  • Only one person is allowed inside a practice room at any given time.

Private Lessons

  • All virtual lessons held in the virtual student studios will need to be scheduled with our office manager, Dustin George-Miller (  
  • Applied lessons in strings and piano may proceed in-person with social distancing and the use of masks.  These types of instruments do not engage in the types of vocal use activity that can more easily cause the spread of droplets and possible infection.
  • Applied lessons in voice and composition will be via zoom or some other method of remote learning.
  • All brass and woodwind instruments will need either larger spaces for instruction for greater social distancing or will be done through remote teaching.
  • Please check with your applied instructor regarding the format for your applied study.

Music Ensembles

Music Department, Voices of the Earth, Vox Profundi, and Chamber Choir

  • The music department will continue to engage students in choral literature utilizing a hybrid model of online and in-person learning.
  • For in-person learning, the music directors have relied on studies coming out of Germany and UC Boulder.  Based on the current findings in-person can take place outside (in the tent that will be placed in the courtyard of the music center), with masks worn, and spaced a minimum of 6-feet apart.  These rehearsals will be limited to 30 min after which a 5 min break will happen to clear the air before resuming. This could change if the research reveals new information about safety.
  • The online learning will utilize zoom rehearsals with both synchronous and asynchronous activities to delve deeply into the repertoire we will explore. One specific plan will be to connect with the wider community through virtual choir projects, as we hope to use this format  for Festival of Carols this year.
  • Regardless of the format, there will be ample opportunities to connect with members of the ensemble in small groups and as a whole, to strengthen singing skills, to consider the role of music in their lives and how it may support their studies as a whole, and to learn new repertoire.

Symphony Orchestra and Lavender Jazz Band

Symphony Orchestra and Lavender Jazz will meet in person, using Sauder (GCSO) and MC 150 (Lavender Jazz).  These groups will use masks and spatial distancing in these spaces, with possible shortened rehearsal times.

The directors of Symphony Orchestra and Lavender Jazz, Brian Mast and Greg Smucker, have carefully consulted an aerosol study commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and a coalition of more than 125 performing arts organizations, led by Dr. Shelly Miller at the University of Colorado. The second round of findings have suggested ways in which wind instruments could participate in Orchestra and Jazz band in a more safe way following these additional protocols:

  • Covering the ends of instruments (bells) with a double-layered cover
  • All musicians wearing a mask, including wind players, which would have a small opening to accommodate the mouthpiece.
  • Follow the 6 ft spacing rule for all instruments and increase spacing to 9 ft in front of trombone players.
  • Limiting the length of rehearsals for wind instruments to 30-minute blocks with breaks in between.
  • Using an absorbent pad (like a puppy pad) for the emptying of spit valves for wind instruments.

Steel Drum Ensemble

Steel Drum Ensemble can easily accommodate social distancing given that it is a small ensemble and each instrument operates in their own “station.” The typical setup uses 2 rows and players about 4 to 6 feet apart so keeping it at 6 would be an easy adjustment. One other adjustment we could make for next semester is that students would receive a set of mallets that they would keep with them and use for the duration of the semester. That way they are the only person touching those mallets. Last year we’d keep the mallets in a bin with the pans.


Degree recitals, noon recitals, and our concerto aria competition will proceed.  At this time we can accommodate instrumental performances in Sauder, with audience social distancing, that can be simultaneously live-streamed.  We are still examining and considering how vocal performance may continue this semester.  More information regarding the concerto/aria competition will be coming in the future.

Please continue to schedule noon recital performances and sophomore recital performances through our office manager Dustin George-Miller.  Our first priority will be to accommodate sophomore recitals that were originally scheduled last spring.