Weekly Teaching Tip – May 11, 2020
by MaryAnnKehler

Thank you to everyone who attended the May 2 Worldwide Member Connection! It was heartening to see everyone and to hear how all are coping with the many challenges of working from home, not the least is which is sharing bandwidth with family members!

One of the biggest concerns discussed last week was whether it is safe to begin reopening studio doors or better to continue online lessons only. It quickly became obvious that there is no easy answer for any of us … our geographic regions and the timing and severity of the COVID-19 virus are so very different.

We will all have a different decision-making process. I’m offering a window into my own thoughts as they relate to my studio, in hopes that you may find something to help with your decisions. Please don’t feel as though any of this is an attempt to convince you one way or the other; it’s simply a reflection on my own circumstances. There are also several links to excellent articles on singer’s saliva spray and the challenges that COVID-19 presents to group singing.


1. Financially, I am completely responsible for supporting myself. I also contribute to the support of my elderly parents, all of which means that I must be working.

2. Only a few of my students are under the age of 13. In my experience,13-year-olds and above tend to settle easily into Zoom and other online venues.

3. ALL of my online students are progressing very well. In some cases, their work is better online than in studio. Even the professionals who at first objected to lessons online have agreed that “It’s the same as being in the studio.”

4. I have been fortunate in that only two of my students have withdrawn from lessons because they can’t come to the studio.

5. All of my pro students have lost all of their work. However, every one of them is continuing with online sessions. Some pay now and some are running a tab, with the agreement that they will pay after they have returned to work and have begun to recover financially. Admittedly, that’s challenging for me in the short term, but I will be paid eventually.

6. More evidence is becoming easily available from peer-reviewed, published papers, that singers spray saliva as far as 27 feet and that virus-carrying aerosols in that saliva can survive airborne for many hours.

7. I decided to experiment with teaching an hour-long Zoom lesson while wearing a mask, to see for myself what the “spit factor” would be. I demonstrated exercises for perhaps 10 minutes of the session, and talked for another 10. By the end of the lesson, a 3” diameter area in the center of the mask was completely saturated. As I removed the mask, a couple of large globs of sputum fell off. I can’t say whether anyone else produces this much spit, but this small test contributed to my own decision.

8. Dr. Curt Stock reminded us during the Member Connection that it is typical for whatever virus is prevalent in any given year to have an uptick in the autumn, and that we can anticipate with fairly high likelihood the same from COVID-19, particularly because it is so contagious.

With all these considerations, although the city of Denver is beginning to reopen businesses, I’ve concluded that the best decision for my studio is to remain online for the present. Will it reopen during the warmer summer months? I don’t know; that will depend entirely on the infection rate here in Denver and also on my observations of physical distancing and masks in the general public. I’ll also be considering whether it’s likely that my studio would need to return to online-only lessons if there is a serious uptick in the fall.

In the meantime, here are links to articles that Teri Stock has searched out, that may help with your decisions. Thank you, Teri!

Six foot social-distancing will not always be enough for COVID-19

Wishing you confidence and good health.

Warmest regards,

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