COVID-19: Essential Information

Department of Music and COVID-19

Department of Music Priorities in the COVID-19 Era: Health and Safety First!

What does it mean to be a musician at Middlebury in the COVID-19 era?

  • Health and safety is a priority, and we will strictly enforce health and safety protocol.

  • Fairness to students and faculty who engage remotely is essential, and addressing the challenges of remote teaching and learning is a high priority.

  • Flexibility is important and necessary: we may not be able to meet some previous expectations (such as course enrollments), but we can work to find solutions that allow students and faculty to pursue the highest level of learning and engagement possible. Students should contact faculty to explore potential solutions to problems with courses.

  • Communication is critical, and we have listed below essentially how things will work for courses and faculty in fall 2020. We encourage you to reach out to us with concerns that you have about your musical studies!

  • We have developed a health and safety plan that will be available soon. That plan lists, for example, distancing requirements specific to musicians that go beyond federal, state and local guidelines but follow months of research by a global consortium of musicians and scientists.

Should the College need to shift to fully remote learning, we are prepared to continue all of our courses online. Ensemble work will vary. Many elements of music teaching and learning can be highly effective in a remote learning mode, but we also understand that remote learning can present other kinds of challenges to study and learning. We intend to be flexible if fully remote learning becomes a reality for courses that are not already designed that way.

Faculty Teaching Modes

For Ensembles and Music Lessons, please see sidebar links.

For individual faculty office hours and contact modes, please see the Faculty sidebar link.

Essential Health and Safety Measures, Spring 2021

Will be updated per State and College instructions.

Singing or playing music can involve an increase in droplet and aerosol distribution beyond breathing and conversational speech addressed by distancing with a 6-foot radius. Musicians need to be aware of 

  • the potential for aerosol distribution of their voice or instrument,

  • the effect of environment including air handling and wind direction,

  • the effect of duration on aerosol content in a room.

National guidance specific to musical engagements is available in the documents linked below (References). Distancing and other measures outlined here are drawn from those and other resources specific to practicing musicians.

All music course and ensemble students and in-person faculty/staff must observe these basic guidelines, including and beyond those set by the College here (COVID-19 Conduct Policy):

  1. Do not attend an in-person class or ensemble meeting, and do not go to any of our spaces if you are ill.

  2. Maintain required social distance while entering, exiting, and moving about in buildings and rehearsal spaces.

  3. Wear masks at all times, especially when talking.

    1. Note the higher risk of aerosol dispersion for singers and wind instruments, and other comments in the Performing Arts Aerosol Study, here More information from the study is forthcoming.

  4. Clean all equipment (chairs, music stands, any other gear within six feet) before and after every class or rehearsal.

  5. Follow schedule and cleaning guidelines for classroom, studio and practice room use. No use of the room outside the stated class or rehearsal time is permitted except for cleaning, and setup or strike of equipment. NO REHEARSAL IS PERMITTED OUTSIDE SCHEDULED MEETING TIMES. Doing so violates the necessary time for air exchange and jeopardizes health and safety for later use of the space.

  6. Do not congregate immediately outside, inside, or around rehearsal spaces/rooms.

  7. All students, staff and faculty should understand that there is no requirement of in-person participation, and there cannot be negative ramifications for declining or leaving any department-sponsored in-person musical activities based on discomfort with in-person involvement, including class participation. Instead, Department of Music faculty, students, and staff will work together to accommodate the academic needs of someone who must leave in-person work and engage remotely.


Any performance that is deemed safe for ensemble participants will happen without an audience in person, and performers will observe current health and safety measures.


All auditions will be remote. Live or recorded is at the discretion of the ensemble director.

Private Music Lessons

All private lessons will be taught remotely, and scheduled individually with the instructor. Please see our sidebar link for Private Music Lessons for more information.

What does it mean to be a musician at Middlebury during a pandemic?

We need to accept safety as our first consideration in any musical activity, and contribute to the community by observing college and department safety protocols. We do not need to completely abandon music: we can find every aspect of music to pursue within the current environment of health and safety, we can innovate in the current circumstances, and prepare for the next level of possibilities as knowledge and safety progress. Different instruments, disciplines, courses have different requirements, and in some cases, vastly different limitations. We will all need to accept when and where our personal musical activity may not be possible for a given period of time. We will need to be creative, supportive, and collaborative towards celebrating all music that can happen during this time, and explore the possibilities for making and sharing music given the resources that we have.

A Community Code Statement for the Department of Music at Middlebury

Beyond college health and safety measures, as participants in music ensembles, classes, and individual music practice sharing space on campus we need to conduct ourselves in a manner that recognizes and respects the health of others, and at all times, including outside of class rehearsal. We must not participate in any situation that challenges the stated health and safety protocol here and by the college, and we must distance ourselves to an extreme extent from any person or any situation that disrespects health and safety on campus by neglecting those protocols.

Department of Music

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753