Keeping music IN and COVID OUT of the classroom

by Kathleen Wissinger

Kath Wissinger is starting her 17th year teaching handbells to 5th-8th graders at Redeemer Classical School in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She taught nine weeks of online classes last spring using Google Classroom. During the lockdown, Kath developed a new series of music called “Solo Time” for folks home alone with bells to play. These pieces offer expansion options for duets, ensembles, and even full choirs once everyone gets back together. Serving as CHIME Loan Coordinator for Area 3, she also teaches piano lessons and directs Gloria Dei adult church choir and Mosaic Handbell Ensemble – a community group. She also makes amazing bread and butter pickles and spaghetti sauce, which bring high bids in the HMA National Seminar Silent Auction. She lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Handbell Industry Council has published a series of articles and reports dealing with ringing safely in COVID times. https://tinyurl.com/y3lrz38w

In the coming months, HMA will make a number of class recordings from National Seminar Online available for purchase in the Virtual Bell Academy. As a special accompaniment to this article, we are offering the recording of the roundtable discussion on Returning to Ringing Safely free to members only. You can find the recording HERE.


Keeping a ringing program going in a school is challenging in itself—equipment cost and storage, space requirements, high standards of student attendance, concerts and outreach scheduling—but now with COVID-19 (the elephant in the room, so to speak), “in-person” ringing classes are now more challenging than ever, and yet, at the same time, also the answer to a prayer for many music programs. Many music teachers will be using handchimes and handbells in their classrooms for the first time ever this year. I canvassed fellow handbell teachers and surveyed music teacher Facebook pages for best practices to get ringing programs back up to speed. This article is a consolidation of all their ideas for you to consider and apply to your own situation. Special thanks to David G. Stone, Neesa Hart, Annaliese Harmon, Kaethe Grabenhofer, Nancy Tipton, Nick Hanson, and Damien Lim (of Singapore) for sharing their plans for resuming classes and rehearsals. Note that we all come from different regions and school districts with varying safety requirements.

Handbell/Handchime Classroom Considerations

Setting: Most teachers will be in their usual rehearsal space, some have moved into larger (unoccupied) choir rooms, a few of Nick Hanson’s largest classes are split into two locations with similar set-ups; HVAC and fans on full time (so long as they are removing air from the room, and not simply stirring it around), windows and doors open when possible, airing out the room in between classes. High-grade filters and REME Halo systems can sanitize the air as it moves through the ductwork, and as noted in The Atlantic’s article (see sidebar), HVAC systems can be reset to pull in more outside air (sometimes this is a CO2 sensor). Some will travel to each grades’ rooms with their equipment on a cart. Some schools are erecting large “event tents” or, as in my school’s case, building a 25’ x 50’ permanent pavilion outdoors for art and music classes. Most teachers plan to have everyone facing the same direction or, as in David Stone’s classes, in a wide open “U”, depending on the room shape and size. All are prepared for remote teaching, but none in this survey are planning to start out that way.

Numbers: Some have reduced the allowable number of ringers in each class due to spacing requirements. Usual ringer numbers average from 10 to 23 students per class up to a high of 36. Total ringing program sizes range from a single class to over 100 ringers involved throughout the week. Some classes are weekly, some are every day.

Scheduling: Damien Lim mentioned a shortened rehearsal schedule (just to start with), but all of us will have less “teaching time” as we absorb these new preventative activities into our class time.

Equipment: Everyone surveyed agrees that students will not share equipment during a class session and that all high-touch items (bells, books, etc.) will be sanitized after every class. Advise ringers to not touch clappers, as they are harder to sanitize. Some teachers will also avoid using mallets and singing sticks due to sanitizing issues. Some have to carry equipment on a cart room-to-room, will not be using tables, have stricter cleaning issues (or less time between classes) to conform to or will be holding classes outdoors, so plan to use chimes, even if they have bells. Those with more permanent set-ups are using chimes and handbells as usual. Some have multiple bell/chime sets available, so shared enharmonics (like A#/Bb) can be divvied out to both positions that would use them.

Other Equipment: White boards, teacher microphone/speaker systems, overheads/projectors/document cameras, individual 8×11 white boards (only one of my classes uses these), music stands and/or chairs: one each per ringer; individual equipment bags with highlighter, marker, pencils, polishing cloths, reinforcements, clips for music, etc. I have a “sanitizing box” for small objects like markers and pencils—cleans in three minutes.

Tables and Spacing: The closest set-up mentioned was two ringers per 6’ table, but most are stationing each student at their own table, from 4’ to 6’ or even 8’ or 10’ apart. Some may not use tables at first, ringing with only bells or chimes in-hand and music stands. I purchased two small Lifetime “Kid’s” tables at Costco to try them out (adding PVC pipes to legs to bring them up to height), but when I went back for more, they were gone! We found 28” tall formica-topped student desks in storage, so will use those. Folding, variable height “personal” camping tables 37” x 17” could also work. Tables 36” x 30” made of plywood and separately purchased legs are sturdy and use existing foam. Neesa suggests “Ebco” as a good source for legs. Kaethe plans to employ the small tables she uses for glockenspiels. Nancy teaches four 50-minute rehearsals daily, so to be able to teach without a mask part of the time, she has purchased large desktop acrylic shields to stand behind.

https://tinyurl.com/y5q8m5vf

Damien Lim is using a similar 3-sided shield for his ringers.

Music: No shared music! Every ringer has their own notebook, whether stored in the rehearsal room or kept by the student and brought to each class. No one mentioned personal digital notepads, but they could work well. Reproducible music is very popular (either published as such or by buying the Digital License) but some teachers are also buying extra copies of printed music as well. Nancy is eliminating paper altogether with her beginning groups by projecting reproducible music on a large screen. A document camera projecting hard copy scores or a pdf of the score can also work. (I have a “HUE HD Pro Camera” that works great, is not expensive, and also has a microphone in it.) Some teachers are focusing on diatonic pieces with no bell changes – especially if ringers will not have tables – as well as pieces in which no accidentals are shared. Note that these pieces can be in any key. Music that doesn’t change key will also be preferred (again, reducing the need to share any bells). I find that most pieces use C# (not Db), Eb (not D#), F# (not Gb), Ab (not G#) and Bb (not A#), so if you hand out bells accordingly, and carefully consider the music you plan to use, most pieces will fit these assignments. If an errant accidental comes up, simply have the ringer with that bell in their array play it. Those with multiple bell sets need not worry about this so much. For those not using tables, or for outdoor ringing, music with no page turns will be helpful. One alternative Dr. Rodriguez-Figueroa (from the HIC articles listed in the sidebar) suggests is, if music must be shared, put each sheet into a plastic sleeve, which can be wiped clean after practice.

Protocol: Hand sanitizer/soap and water used by each ringer upon staggered entry AND exit, equipment either preset at each position by teacher or picked up by student on entry and taken to a specific table.

I plan to have a cloth-covered table with each chime pair pre-positioned in drawn, numbered boxes (C4D4 for Ringer 1, E4F4 for Ringer 2) with position numbers matching their book number and seat assignment. Students will pick up their chimes and go to their places.

After class, I will call them by number, and they will bring their chimes to me (standing behind the table), and I will sanitize each instrument with an alcohol wipe before it goes back on the table, ready for the next class. Anything left on the table, unused, during class does not need to be cleaned. Any small items go into the sanitizing box.

Nick’s students will assist in cleaning the bell handles and mallets used at the end of each period, whether with wipes or spray, yet to be determined.

Annaliese Harmon suggests “Force of Nature” spray.

Gloves: I will not be using gloves. (In the past I collected all gloves after each class, washed them, and brought them back for the next class day.) David will spray down gloves after each class. Nick ‘s ringers will be in charge of their own gloves, to be washed at home.

Assignments/Activities: Kaethe Grabenhofer shared some creative thoughts:

“Using the artistic process in the general music classroom during COVID, hand chimes/ handbells may be more accessible than Orff instruments and singing (Performing strand). Teachers can lead elementary students to compose simple pieces using ostinatos, melodies, and harmonies to meet given parameters. With the teacher modeling first, ringers can create complementary rhythms with a social distanced partner. Students may reflect on previous handbell performances from YouTube videos. Studying performance music, students can analyze how the elements of music relate to the structure and how the performer might interpret the musical piece.”

Most plan on continuing their regular ringing program, adjusting repertoire to fit available equipment, rehearsal space and “cart-carrying” limitations.

I routinely use projected music for beginning classes and may have to deal with sight-line and outdoor lighting issues, which will require writing out more exercises, activities, and chordal pieces on the whiteboard. I also plan to teach more chord theory and use memorization in processionals and short pieces.

Neesa Hart plans to also focus on music literacy and theory activities as well as a lot of rhythm reading and playing.

Those of us who regularly have ringers change positions between pieces need to adapt to the “no equipment sharing” rule. This can be dealt with by either assigning single positions for the time being, or by rotating repertoire from rehearsal to rehearsal so that only “Position A” pieces are practiced one week and “Position B” pieces are practiced another week.

Concerts: This topic was not discussed much, as we are all still getting our feet under us, but recorded concerts (no audience) seem to be the way to go. Options might include recording students in the classroom, either with a single camera (either stationary or scanning the group), or, as Nancy did for her group’s performance for their National Seminar concert this summer, multiple cameras simultaneously recording a performance, synched with each other and a single sound track.

My school did a virtual Art Show/Music Concert last Spring that worked very well, using serendipitous recordings of classroom rehearsals (and some demo clips of pieces not quite ready for prime time) as background music for each grade’s art in the video. This year we hope to include at least one video of each grade ringing a piece along with recordings supporting the Artwork. We also discussed having each art class illustrate a cover for a piece of music in the repertoire as part of the art show. I will definitely record my groups more regularly, even if we are not concert-ready.

Rather than focusing on their end-of-semester concert, Nancy’s high school groups are going to do short “units” that culminate in a performance video. For example, her freshman group plans to spend the first three weeks of school preparing Helman’s “Prayer for Peace” while learning about how Americans responded to the 9/11 attacks, comparing and contrasting that with America’s response to the current crisis, and studying the role music plays in human responses to adversity. The music video they create will feature images of 9/11 and will be posted on the school’s social media pages on September 11 as a tribute to first responders and health care workers.

Other ideas: No excessive chatting. If anyone speaks, a mask should be on. Masks should be on before entry and throughout class (though some are not requiring masks), no personal equipment outside your “space” (e.g., no book bags thrown in a common corner), go directly to your place and stay there. Fill the farthest positions first (first in = last out).

Damien’s additional ideas for his “MOB” (Ministry of Bells) rehearsals include:

  • Spraying the foam on the tables with Febreze that has disinfectant.
  • Disinfect air when all have left using a spray sanitizer like the airlines do. (Don’t be stingy!)
  • Conductor using lapel or head-worn wireless mic. (Don’t speak loudly, even with mask.)
  • Safe entry/exit QR Scans.
  • Online COVID declaration.
  • Hands-off temp checks.
  • Buddy checks.
  • Shorter practice time (90 min. down from 120).
  • Toilet seat sanitizing spray.

This year will definitely be different and challenging, but great music can still be made! I suggest we all adopt Damien’s last instruction on his list: “Enjoy ringing and come with a positive mindset!”

Additional Resources

The Handbell Industry Council has published a series of articles and reports dealing with ringing safely in COVID times. https://tinyurl.com/y3lrz38w

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) have published a report: “Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education.” Check http://www.nfhs.org for updates on this study.

An article in The Atlantic explores the “airborne” spread of the virus. Two quotes are particularly relevant: Japan’s success is due partially because they “crucially, trained its public to focus on avoiding the three Cs—closed spaces, crowded places, and close conversations” and “…many building-wide air-conditioning systems have a setting for how much air they take in from outside, and that it is usually minimized to be energy-efficient. During a pandemic, saving lives is more important than saving energy, so schools could, when the setting exists, crank it up to dilute the air…” https://tinyurl.com/y2xfy8uo

Dr. Erin Bromage, who published an article on exposure risk assessment that went viral online and then was featured on national news, kindly answered some of my questions concerning bell classes.

Q: Ideal classroom set-up? I told him my students would have their own music books and be spaced 6+ feet apart, each with their own instruments at their desks.
A: Open your windows as much as possible! People wearing masks and not talking represent a very low risk.

Q: Would you suggest wearing an n95 mask, goggles, face shield, etc.?
A: I would wear a good fitting material mask. When your mask is off, please be at least 10 feet away when indoors.

Q: I’m using hand chimes instead of bells to begin with. And gloves or no gloves for the students?
A: Just wipe them (the chimes) down. Gloves or no gloves the risk is the same.

Q: I’ll also be using floor music stands that travel from room to room. How to sanitize them?
A: Spray them down with Lysol, or a solution of 60% ethanol and water with a misting bottle. Wiping works too, just don’t be too obsessive.

Q: During the day would it be advisable to clear the room of students every so often to let it air out and “reset” – considering the dosage and duration factors in viral exposure?
A: Yes, if you have that option, allow the room to rest without people in it. Open windows if possible.
https://tinyurl.com/yxw22qa8 

Robert Walshe of Community Methodist Church in Ruidoso, New Mexico, shared this video with us showing how his ringers play a handchime piece with social distancing measures in place. He said, “My choir wanted to play for our service while masked and separated. We had 6 music stands, each with a chair. The chair, thanks to my ringers ingenuity, became a small table for 2 bells or 2 hand chimes. The term Table Less (TL) would apply. And, I think any small or medium group could find some way to play to praise through music.” He added, “Music for such a group has to eliminate martellato, mart-lifts, mallets, and most chromatic bell change. But, getting to play again was definitely worth it.” A score of his arrangement can be found on Sheet Music Plus.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Handbell Industry Council has published a series of articles and reports dealing with ringing safely in COVID times. https://tinyurl.com/y3lrz38w

In the coming months, HMA will make a number of class recordings from National Seminar Online available for purchase in the Virtual Bell Academy. As a special accompaniment to this article, we are offering the recording of the roundtable discussion on Returning to Ringing Safely free to members only. You can find the recording HERE.


Keeping a ringing program going in a school is challenging in itself—equipment cost and storage, space requirements, high standards of student attendance, concerts and outreach scheduling—but now with COVID-19 (the elephant in the room, so to speak), “in-person” ringing classes are now more challenging than ever, and yet, at the same time, also the answer to a prayer for many music programs. Many music teachers will be using handchimes and handbells in their classrooms for the first time ever this year. I canvassed fellow handbell teachers and surveyed music teacher Facebook pages for best practices to get ringing programs back up to speed. This article is a consolidation of all their ideas for you to consider and apply to your own situation. Special thanks to David G. Stone, Neesa Hart, Annaliese Harmon, Kaethe Grabenhofer, Nancy Tipton, Nick Hanson, and Damien Lim (of Singapore) for sharing their plans for resuming classes and rehearsals. Note that we all come from different regions and school districts with varying safety requirements.

Handbell/Handchime Classroom Considerations

Setting: Most teachers will be in their usual rehearsal space, some have moved into larger (unoccupied) choir rooms, a few of Nick Hanson’s largest classes are split into two locations with similar set-ups; HVAC and fans on full time (so long as they are removing air from the room, and not simply stirring it around), windows and doors open when possible, airing out the room in between classes. High-grade filters and REME Halo systems can sanitize the air as it moves through the ductwork, and as noted in The Atlantic’s article (see sidebar), HVAC systems can be reset to pull in more outside air (sometimes this is a CO2 sensor). Some will travel to each grades’ rooms with their equipment on a cart. Some schools are erecting large “event tents” or, as in my school’s case, building a 25’ x 50’ permanent pavilion outdoors for art and music classes. Most teachers plan to have everyone facing the same direction or, as in David Stone’s classes, in a wide open “U”, depending on the room shape and size. All are prepared for remote teaching, but none in this survey are planning to start out that way.

Numbers: Some have reduced the allowable number of ringers in each class due to spacing requirements. Usual ringer numbers average from 10 to 23 students per class up to a high of 36. Total ringing program sizes range from a single class to over 100 ringers involved throughout the week. Some classes are weekly, some are every day.

Scheduling: Damien Lim mentioned a shortened rehearsal schedule (just to start with), but all of us will have less “teaching time” as we absorb these new preventative activities into our class time.

Equipment: Everyone surveyed agrees that students will not share equipment during a class session and that all high-touch items (bells, books, etc.) will be sanitized after every class. Advise ringers to not touch clappers, as they are harder to sanitize. Some teachers will also avoid using mallets and singing sticks due to sanitizing issues. Some have to carry equipment on a cart room-to-room, will not be using tables, have stricter cleaning issues (or less time between classes) to conform to or will be holding classes outdoors, so plan to use chimes, even if they have bells. Those with more permanent set-ups are using chimes and handbells as usual. Some have multiple bell/chime sets available, so shared enharmonics (like A#/Bb) can be divvied out to both positions that would use them.

Other Equipment: White boards, teacher microphone/speaker systems, overheads/projectors/document cameras, individual 8×11 white boards (only one of my classes uses these), music stands and/or chairs: one each per ringer; individual equipment bags with highlighter, marker, pencils, polishing cloths, reinforcements, clips for music, etc. I have a “sanitizing box” for small objects like markers and pencils—cleans in three minutes.

Tables and Spacing: The closest set-up mentioned was two ringers per 6’ table, but most are stationing each student at their own table, from 4’ to 6’ or even 8’ or 10’ apart. Some may not use tables at first, ringing with only bells or chimes in-hand and music stands. I purchased two small Lifetime “Kid’s” tables at Costco to try them out (adding PVC pipes to legs to bring them up to height), but when I went back for more, they were gone! We found 28” tall formica-topped student desks in storage, so will use those. Folding, variable height “personal” camping tables 37” x 17” could also work. Tables 36” x 30” made of plywood and separately purchased legs are sturdy and use existing foam. Neesa suggests “Ebco” as a good source for legs. Kaethe plans to employ the small tables she uses for glockenspiels. Nancy teaches four 50-minute rehearsals daily, so to be able to teach without a mask part of the time, she has purchased large desktop acrylic shields to stand behind.

https://tinyurl.com/y5q8m5vf

Damien Lim is using a similar 3-sided shield for his ringers.

Music: No shared music! Every ringer has their own notebook, whether stored in the rehearsal room or kept by the student and brought to each class. No one mentioned personal digital notepads, but they could work well. Reproducible music is very popular (either published as such or by buying the Digital License) but some teachers are also buying extra copies of printed music as well. Nancy is eliminating paper altogether with her beginning groups by projecting reproducible music on a large screen. A document camera projecting hard copy scores or a pdf of the score can also work. (I have a “HUE HD Pro Camera” that works great, is not expensive, and also has a microphone in it.) Some teachers are focusing on diatonic pieces with no bell changes – especially if ringers will not have tables – as well as pieces in which no accidentals are shared. Note that these pieces can be in any key. Music that doesn’t change key will also be preferred (again, reducing the need to share any bells). I find that most pieces use C# (not Db), Eb (not D#), F# (not Gb), Ab (not G#) and Bb (not A#), so if you hand out bells accordingly, and carefully consider the music you plan to use, most pieces will fit these assignments. If an errant accidental comes up, simply have the ringer with that bell in their array play it. Those with multiple bell sets need not worry about this so much. For those not using tables, or for outdoor ringing, music with no page turns will be helpful. One alternative Dr. Rodriguez-Figueroa (from the HIC articles listed in the sidebar) suggests is, if music must be shared, put each sheet into a plastic sleeve, which can be wiped clean after practice.

Protocol: Hand sanitizer/soap and water used by each ringer upon staggered entry AND exit, equipment either preset at each position by teacher or picked up by student on entry and taken to a specific table.

I plan to have a cloth-covered table with each chime pair pre-positioned in drawn, numbered boxes (C4D4 for Ringer 1, E4F4 for Ringer 2) with position numbers matching their book number and seat assignment. Students will pick up their chimes and go to their places.

After class, I will call them by number, and they will bring their chimes to me (standing behind the table), and I will sanitize each instrument with an alcohol wipe before it goes back on the table, ready for the next class. Anything left on the table, unused, during class does not need to be cleaned. Any small items go into the sanitizing box.

Nick’s students will assist in cleaning the bell handles and mallets used at the end of each period, whether with wipes or spray, yet to be determined.

Annaliese Harmon suggests “Force of Nature” spray.

Gloves: I will not be using gloves. (In the past I collected all gloves after each class, washed them, and brought them back for the next class day.) David will spray down gloves after each class. Nick ‘s ringers will be in charge of their own gloves, to be washed at home.

Assignments/Activities: Kaethe Grabenhofer shared some creative thoughts:

“Using the artistic process in the general music classroom during COVID, hand chimes/ handbells may be more accessible than Orff instruments and singing (Performing strand). Teachers can lead elementary students to compose simple pieces using ostinatos, melodies, and harmonies to meet given parameters. With the teacher modeling first, ringers can create complementary rhythms with a social distanced partner. Students may reflect on previous handbell performances from YouTube videos. Studying performance music, students can analyze how the elements of music relate to the structure and how the performer might interpret the musical piece.”

Most plan on continuing their regular ringing program, adjusting repertoire to fit available equipment, rehearsal space and “cart-carrying” limitations.

I routinely use projected music for beginning classes and may have to deal with sight-line and outdoor lighting issues, which will require writing out more exercises, activities, and chordal pieces on the whiteboard. I also plan to teach more chord theory and use memorization in processionals and short pieces.

Neesa Hart plans to also focus on music literacy and theory activities as well as a lot of rhythm reading and playing.

Those of us who regularly have ringers change positions between pieces need to adapt to the “no equipment sharing” rule. This can be dealt with by either assigning single positions for the time being, or by rotating repertoire from rehearsal to rehearsal so that only “Position A” pieces are practiced one week and “Position B” pieces are practiced another week.

Concerts: This topic was not discussed much, as we are all still getting our feet under us, but recorded concerts (no audience) seem to be the way to go. Options might include recording students in the classroom, either with a single camera (either stationary or scanning the group), or, as Nancy did for her group’s performance for their National Seminar concert this summer, multiple cameras simultaneously recording a performance, synched with each other and a single sound track.

My school did a virtual Art Show/Music Concert last Spring that worked very well, using serendipitous recordings of classroom rehearsals (and some demo clips of pieces not quite ready for prime time) as background music for each grade’s art in the video. This year we hope to include at least one video of each grade ringing a piece along with recordings supporting the Artwork. We also discussed having each art class illustrate a cover for a piece of music in the repertoire as part of the art show. I will definitely record my groups more regularly, even if we are not concert-ready.

Rather than focusing on their end-of-semester concert, Nancy’s high school groups are going to do short “units” that culminate in a performance video. For example, her freshman group plans to spend the first three weeks of school preparing Helman’s “Prayer for Peace” while learning about how Americans responded to the 9/11 attacks, comparing and contrasting that with America’s response to the current crisis, and studying the role music plays in human responses to adversity. The music video they create will feature images of 9/11 and will be posted on the school’s social media pages on September 11 as a tribute to first responders and health care workers.

Other ideas: No excessive chatting. If anyone speaks, a mask should be on. Masks should be on before entry and throughout class (though some are not requiring masks), no personal equipment outside your “space” (e.g., no book bags thrown in a common corner), go directly to your place and stay there. Fill the farthest positions first (first in = last out).

Damien’s additional ideas for his “MOB” (Ministry of Bells) rehearsals include:

  • Spraying the foam on the tables with Febreze that has disinfectant.
  • Disinfect air when all have left using a spray sanitizer like the airlines do. (Don’t be stingy!)
  • Conductor using lapel or head-worn wireless mic. (Don’t speak loudly, even with mask.)
  • Safe entry/exit QR Scans.
  • Online COVID declaration.
  • Hands-off temp checks.
  • Buddy checks.
  • Shorter practice time (90 min. down from 120).
  • Toilet seat sanitizing spray.

This year will definitely be different and challenging, but great music can still be made! I suggest we all adopt Damien’s last instruction on his list: “Enjoy ringing and come with a positive mindset!”

Additional Resources

The Handbell Industry Council has published a series of articles and reports dealing with ringing safely in COVID times. https://tinyurl.com/y3lrz38w

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) have published a report: “Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education.” Check http://www.nfhs.org for updates on this study.

An article in The Atlantic explores the “airborne” spread of the virus. Two quotes are particularly relevant: Japan’s success is due partially because they “crucially, trained its public to focus on avoiding the three Cs—closed spaces, crowded places, and close conversations” and “…many building-wide air-conditioning systems have a setting for how much air they take in from outside, and that it is usually minimized to be energy-efficient. During a pandemic, saving lives is more important than saving energy, so schools could, when the setting exists, crank it up to dilute the air…” https://tinyurl.com/y2xfy8uo

Dr. Erin Bromage, who published an article on exposure risk assessment that went viral online and then was featured on national news, kindly answered some of my questions concerning bell classes.

Q: Ideal classroom set-up? I told him my students would have their own music books and be spaced 6+ feet apart, each with their own instruments at their desks.
A: Open your windows as much as possible! People wearing masks and not talking represent a very low risk.

Q: Would you suggest wearing an n95 mask, goggles, face shield, etc.?
A: I would wear a good fitting material mask. When your mask is off, please be at least 10 feet away when indoors.

Q: I’m using hand chimes instead of bells to begin with. And gloves or no gloves for the students?
A: Just wipe them (the chimes) down. Gloves or no gloves the risk is the same.

Q: I’ll also be using floor music stands that travel from room to room. How to sanitize them?
A: Spray them down with Lysol, or a solution of 60% ethanol and water with a misting bottle. Wiping works too, just don’t be too obsessive.

Q: During the day would it be advisable to clear the room of students every so often to let it air out and “reset” – considering the dosage and duration factors in viral exposure?
A: Yes, if you have that option, allow the room to rest without people in it. Open windows if possible.
https://tinyurl.com/yxw22qa8 

Robert Walshe of Community Methodist Church in Ruidoso, New Mexico, shared this video with us showing how his ringers play a handchime piece with social distancing measures in place. He said, “My choir wanted to play for our service while masked and separated. We had 6 music stands, each with a chair. The chair, thanks to my ringers ingenuity, became a small table for 2 bells or 2 hand chimes. The term Table Less (TL) would apply. And, I think any small or medium group could find some way to play to praise through music.” He added, “Music for such a group has to eliminate martellato, mart-lifts, mallets, and most chromatic bell change. But, getting to play again was definitely worth it.” A score of his arrangement can be found on Sheet Music Plus.

Kath Wissinger is starting her 17th year teaching handbells to 5th-8th graders at Redeemer Classical School in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She taught nine weeks of online classes last spring using Google Classroom. During the lockdown, Kath developed a new series of music called “Solo Time” for folks home alone with bells to play. These pieces offer expansion options for duets, ensembles, and even full choirs once everyone gets back together. Serving as CHIME Loan Coordinator for Area 3, she also teaches piano lessons and directs Gloria Dei adult church choir and Mosaic Handbell Ensemble – a community group. She also makes amazing bread and butter pickles and spaghetti sauce, which bring high bids in the HMA National Seminar Silent Auction. She lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.