To All Southwestern District members:

 We are, without a doubt, living and experiencing a lifestyle change that has affected all of us in many ways.  The impact of the COVID19 virus is very sobering and something that all of us must take to heart.  The biggest down-side that this pandemic has had on all of us is the impact it has had on our barbershop lives.  All of us are keenly aware of the CDC recommendations regarding physical distancing and the requirement to wear face masks.  Group gatherings are still officially discouraged even though some people try to do otherwise.  Obviously, this restriction shuts down barbershop rehearsals and performances until further notice and any plans for chapter shows should be postponed.  Unfortunately, some experts are warning us that the dangers of this virus might not be eliminated for 6 months to 2 years.

 To further emphasize the seriousness of the matter, the following comments and observations were taken from this week's webinar titled "Science and the Near Term Future of Singing".  This webinar was hosted by the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, ChorusAmerica, Barbershop Harmony Society, and all organizations with a vested interest in continuing to sing.  Society CEO Marty Monson was a participant on the panel.  If you have not listened to this presentation, I would encourage you to use the link below and log in to YouTube to see the webinar:

Science and the Near Term Future of Singing

The major points of this 2 1/2 hour webinar were:


  • On the hierarchy of “safe” activities to return to, group singing is considered among the least safe. A return to traditional group singing is considered HIGH RISK. Singing in an enclosed space with recirculated air is one of the most dangerous things people could do right now.
  • For a variety of biological reasons, singers are considered “super spreaders”. Infection = Viral Load X Exposure Time.  Our deep breathing and loud sound when singing both projects aerosolized disease particles into the air at a significantly higher rate than talking and brings them deep into the lungs where they can take root. And prolonged exposure for a two hour rehearsal assures that even if physical distancing is observed, an entire chorus is at significant risk of contracting COVID19 from even a single asymptomatic singer.
  • New studies show that those with COVID may be most contagious just BEFORE they start to show any symptoms. Asking singers (or our audience members) to self-police and stay away from a rehearsal or performance if they’re feeling ill may not be much help if they’re most contagious before they’re even aware they have the disease.
  • There is no existing barrier method (masks, PPE, etc.) which is considered safe for singing right now.

Please know that the SWD Leadership team is following these developments very closely. I am in frequent contact with the other District Presidents and the Harmony Hall Leadership team.  Any developments will be communicated to you promptly.  I would therefore ask that we all be patient and practice our hobby, via modern technology.  We will recover from this pandemic now upon us.

Thanks and Be Safe!

In Harmony

Richard Howell


Southwestern District