Firstly a disclaimer: This post was written in August 2020 and is based on the current situation concerning Covid-19. At no point is anything in this post meant to contradict Government guidelines. Recordings 4 Schools and their parent company 4 Part Music Ltd will only ever take on work or act in such a way which is entirely legal and responsible. The thoughts, opinions and suggestions below are simply those of the author and do not necessarily constitute company policy. If you are thinking about any sort of recording at your school we will discuss this on a case by case basis and in line with the currently guidelines and laws in place at the time.
So, having dealt with the small print I thought I would take this opportunity to collate some thoughts on how school recordings might work during the Autumn Term of 2020.
At the time of writing, the expectation is that all Primary and Secondary schools in the UK will return in September. I believe, there is currently a theory about year group bubbles with the concept that the pupils will all stay together perhaps in tutor groups and it is the staff that move around. How that works in reality remains to be seen and I can already see how this might make certain subjects tricky – music and sciences being the obvious ones. However, fortunately I am not in charge of school policy or guidelines.
Group Singing Recordings
The majority of our recordings, certainly in Primary Schools are based on group singing, usually class by class or year group by year group. Right now, however, the idea of singing is a very contentious one. My own very limited and unscientific research of whispering, talking and singing in front of a candle suggests that actually in terms of the amount of air coming out one’s mouth it’s safer to sing than whisper. However, that does not of course constitute scientific research and indeed it might not be breath which is the issue.
At the moment I believe there is a suggestion that groups of up to 15 can sing in a school. This may however, present some opportunities to do some sort of recording. Even if it is along the lines of a virtual choir and we stitch together lots of groups of 15 to make it sound like everyone was singing together. Albeit a time consuming way to record it might at least be possible. Again this is all subject to the disclaimer above.
Voice / Spoken word Recordings
As well as recording singing, we have also recorded a number of Audio books in schools. This makes an equally interesting project and right now has the advantage of a. No singing and b. Smaller groups of children can be kept several metres apart while recording whilst remaining in their year group / tutor bubbles.
In terms of fundraisers for schools, these can be just as good as the more traditional singing CDs and have the added bonus that the pupils can write their own stories. This adds further educational benefit.
Engineering Desk and Social Distancing
Of course it’s all well and good trying to figure out what, if anything, can be recorded in schools, but that does rather assume that we are allowed into the school to record. For the moment let’s assume thats possible and can happen. Our thoughts on keeping ourselves safe and acting responsibly are currently as follows. Again this is subject to the disclaimer above and any recording work we engage in during these times will be assessed on a case by case basis with the school to ensure we can operate safely, not only for ourselves but in respect of the school and their pupils.
Regardless of what we are recording, at some point we need to assemble microphones in a defined recording space, whether that is a school hall or a classroom. This can be done early before any pupils arrive so there is no danger of any close contact of any sort between your pupils and our engineer. Even before this current situation, our engineering desk is always kept at a reasonable distance from the pupils as there is no need for us to interact. However, to further keep everyone safe we have now invested in a plastic screen which surrounds our engineer, who will be wearing a face mask at all times. We also carry hand sanitiser and are entirely self sufficient in terms of food & drink – none of which will be brought in or consumed on school premises unless this is specifically permitted at the time.
Whether or not these actions will be sufficient and workable, will ultimately depend on the government guidelines in place at the time, as well as the policy of the individual school / head teacher. The purpose of this post is really just to outline some of our thoughts as to how school recordings might be possible in the short to medium term. The reality maybe somewhat different.