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Georgia Southern Music and COVID-19

Students, Faculty, and Staff of the Fred and Dinah Gretsch School of Music,

While we have been apart, Georgia Southern has been working to prepare for the Fall semester and the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. Our goals are: 1) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among our students, faculty, and staff; and 2) to provide our students with the best possible musical experience, under the circumstances. By working together, we can keep each other healthy and get back to normal as quickly as possible.


To prevent infection, it is important to remember how the coronavirus spreads. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. 

The virus can also be spread through touching surfaces. Infected droplets on one’s hands can be transferred to the respiratory system if you touch your face.

There are four things that all of us must do to stop the spread of the virus:

1. Wear A Mask

Masks can help prevent droplets from your mouth and nose from getting into the air where they might infect someone else. Masks are required in Foy, the Foy Annex, and the Fine Arts Building.

The best mask choices are disposable medical masks and multi-layered cotton masks. Do not use a mask with an exhalation valve. 

2. Social Distance

Droplets containing the virus can come in various sizes. Larger droplets typically settle to the ground before travelling very far. To limit your exposure, it is recommended that you stay at least six feet away from other people.

3. Wash Your Hands

Hands can become infected by touching contaminated surfaces or through contact with virus-containing droplets in the air. Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing serves to remove viruses before they are transferred to your respiratory system. 

4. Monitor Your Health

It is important that you monitor your health carefully. If you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19: 1) stay home; and 2) contact the Georgia Southern CARES Center. The CARES Center can provide answers to all of your COVID-19-related questions. You can self-report test results, get help evaluating your situation, and receive support for your COVID-19-related academic, employment, and on-campus notification needs.

There are several ways to reach the CARES Center:

*Use the MyGS mobile app

*Complete the CARES Center COVID-19 self-reporting form available through the MyGeorgiaSouthern portal under the tile titled “COVID-19 Information & Resources”

*Call 912-478-CARE (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

This is the new normal. These are four simple things that we can do that will make a tremendous difference.


Music can provide extra challenges for fighting the spread of COVID-19. In order to help keep us all healthy, some modifications to our norms will be needed. 

The most important things to remember about the risk of infection are these:

A. The virus is spread mostly person-to-person; it is important to avoid close proximity.

B. The illness is a respiratory infection; deep breathing makes infection more likely.

C. There is a relationship between “viral load” (how much of the virus is in your system) and the severity of the illness; being in close proximity for an extended period of time is riskier than being distanced for a short period of time.

Making music is a physical activity. Even non-aerosol-producing musical activities (such as playing the piano) involve more exertion than simply sitting. Deep breathing can allow aerosols to lodge in the lungs, leading to infection. Therefore, in the interest of preserving your health, we will limit how close we can be to each other while making music, and we will limit how long we can be together while making music. 

Applied Lessons

Applied lessons will be given primarily remotely. In-person lessons will not be permitted in faculty studios; a classroom space must be reserved for that purpose. It is recommended that you use a practice room or other designated space for your remote lessons. [If home (or another space to which you have access) is a suitable location for you, you can Zoom into your lessons from there.]

Remote lessons will be 50 minutes; in-person lessons will be 30 minutes.

Studio Classes

Studio classes will be limited to 30 minutes. In studio classes, generally one of two kinds of activities occurs: a) chamber music rehearsals; and b) individual student performances (followed by critiques). If there is chamber music, students should not move from one location to another in the ensemble; that is, once the ensemble is set for the 30-minute rehearsal, each student should stay in that location throughout. If the studio class involves individual student performances, there should be no more than two (2) presenters (plus a single accompanist, if applicable). For example, a trombonist and accompanist can present a piece and get critiques. Afterward, a second trombonist can perform with the same accompanist. It is to be preferred if the two trombonists in this example perform from different areas of the stage.

Ensemble Rehearsals

Ensemble rehearsals will be limited to 30-minute segments, followed by at least 30 minutes of dark time so that aerosols can settle and the HVAC system can exchange the air in the space. Ensembles that typically rehearse in 50-minute blocks will be limited to 30 minutes. Ensembles that rehearse in blocks longer than 60 minutes may be able to accommodate more than one 30-minute rehearsal segment.

Students must wear a mask whenever possible in ensemble rehearsals. If you are a singer, percussionist, string player, or pianist, a mask must be worn at all times. If you are a woodwind or brass player, masks must be worn when you are not playing. Exception: flutists must wear a face covering or headjoint filter/shield.

Woodwind and brass players (with the exception of flutists) must use bell covers. The Department has ordered bell covers for students. 

Concerts and Recitals

Our concert schedule will be curtailed this semester. These are the guidelines we will be following:

A. Large Ensembles

Large ensembles may give one live concert in Fall 2020. That concert must be after Oct. 10, and will be no more than 30 minutes in length. There will not be a live audience. If an ensemble chooses, selections can be recorded separately, then broadcast together. A fully-recorded concert may be up to 50 minutes in length.

B. Small Ensembles

Small ensembles may give one live concert in Fall 2020. That concert must be after Oct. 10., and will be no more than 30 minutes in length. There will not be a live audience.

Caveat: If the ensemble typically consists of a variety of subgroups (e.g., Percussion Ensemble), then there cannot be a live concert. Instead, the pieces will need to be recorded separately and compiled for broadcast.

C. Solo Recitals

Solo recitals can be given with a live audience of no more than 10 (Carter Recital Hall) or 25 (Fine Arts Auditorium).

D. Gala Recitals

Gala recitals (including General Student Recitals and Recital Hour recitals) cannot be given live. Students are encouraged to make an audio or video recording at an arranged time in the Carter Recital Hall or Fine Arts Auditorium for compilation and broadcast.


Time Slots

Practice rooms are shared spaces, and they are generally small. Because we need to allow sufficient time for droplets and aerosols to settle and for the air to be exchanged through the HVAC system, we will be having students sign up for specific practice times in specific rooms. These practice times will be consistent week-to-week.

On the Statesboro Campus, practice slots will be 45 minutes long, with 45 minutes between slots. Some common practice rooms will have schedules beginning at 8:00 a.m., others at 8:30 a.m.; thus, there will practice room slots beginning on every hour and every half-hour throughout the day. On the Armstrong Campus, 30-minute practice slots will be separated by 60-minute periods for settling and air exchange. Again, there will be some rooms with schedules beginning at 8:00 and others at 8:30.

Students must wear a mask whenever possible in practice sessions. 

Before Practicing

You must wash or sanitize their hands. You must wipe down any surfaces you are likely to touch (e.g., music stand, piano keyboard, etc.).

While Practicing

Only one person is permitted in a practice room at a time. You must use the trash can when emptying your instrument. 

After Practicing 

You must wipe down any surfaces you touched. 


COVID-19 is a serious illness, but we need not be paralyzed with fear over it. By taking a few simple precautions and temporarily modifying our activities, we can isolate the virus and stop its spread. However, it is literally impossible for one person to effectively control COVID-19; only by working together, only by committing ourselves to a consistent course of action, can we successfully conquer the coronavirus and return to normal living.

Steven A. Harper, Chair

Fred and Dinah Gretsch School of Music

Last updated: 2/10/2021