COVID-19 is now officially a pandemic and the number of cases are increasing at alarming rates all across the world.
As our communities work to face the various challenges we’ve been presented with, many day-to-day activities are being canceled, postponed, or altered.
How will this affect us as independent music teachers?
How can we best keep our students safe while working to stop the spread of the virus?
Here are some tips for keeping ourselves and our students healthy.
They are especially important in light of our current public health emergency, but they’re also helpful for any teacher dealing with the average cold and flu season.
Keep Your Studio Organized
Clutter is just more surface area for dirt, dust, and bacteria to collect. That’s the last thing we all need at present!
The more organized your studio space is, the easier it is to keep it clean and disinfected.
Dust and Vacuum Regularly
This might seem obvious, but it’s hard to disinfect surfaces that are covered in dust, dirt, or debris.
Make sure you’re dusting and vacuuming your studio space regularly to keep it as clean and healthy as possible.
Wash Your Hands Before and After Each Lesson
Again, this is common sense but still a good reminder.
Think about it: every time you have a lesson, you almost inevitably pick up any germs your student is carrying (and they pick up yours).
If you then turn around and share those germs with the next student who walks in your door, and the next, and the next, it’s easy to see how illness could spread quickly.
Washing your hands for at least twenty seconds between lessons is one of the best ways to stop the spread of germs from one student to another.
Provide Hand Sanitizer
I realize hand sanitizer is sold out in most stores across the nation right now. If you do happen to have some available, though, it’s smart to keep it in your studio.
The CDC recommends using a type of sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol for the best germ-killing results.
Disinfect Studio Surfaces
This includes tables, chairs, hand railings, doorknobs, and anything else that students and their families frequently touch.
If your students all use the same instrument during their lesson time (such as your studio piano or keyboard), ask them to wash their hands before they get started.
Also, if students and their family members have access to your restroom, be sure to clean and disinfect it regularly and change all hand towels after each use.
Please note that you should not clean your instruments with disinfectant wipes. The harsh chemicals in these wipes could damage or ruin the finish.
If you suspect that your instrument has come in contact with the Coronavirus, simply leave it untouched for three days (72 hours). According to the experts, 72 hours is the maximum amount of time that the virus can survive on any surface.
After the three-day waiting period, your instrument will be safe to handle once again.
Know Your Students’ Allergies and Special Concerns
Many teachers ask for this information on new student registration forms, and it’s important information to have. If you don’t have it, this would be a good time to start gathering it.
It’s necessary to know of any food allergies if you give out candy or have refreshments at recitals or group lessons. Some students may be allergic to pets, perfume, dust, or even the chemicals in certain cleaning products.
If you know about these issues beforehand you can be especially careful to minimize any allergens in your studio and provide your students with the safest learning environment possible.
Suspend Group Lessons and Activities
At the time this post is being written, my home state of Michigan is discouraging gatherings of over one hundred people and placing a mandatory ban on gatherings of two-hundred and fifty or more.
It’s unlikely that any music teacher’s group lessons generate those kind of numbers, but it still might be best to suspend them for the time being in the interest of not spreading germs from one family to another.
Scheduled recitals, festivals, and concert performances, on the other hand, may be large enough to cause concern. Depending on the guidelines and/or bans being issued in your local area, you might need to postpone those as well.
Have a “No Illness” Cancellation Policy
Especially in the middle of the current pandemic, it’s best to ask students not to attend lessons if they or members of their household are experiencing any symptoms of illness, even minor ones.
The same goes for you as a teacher: if you’re feeling at all under the weather, it’s best not to risk it.
Do Your Homework
The situation in our communities is changing day by day, which makes it hard to plan for the long term.
In our current health emergency, it’s crucial to stay current on what’s happening and the steps being taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Make sure you’re keeping up to date on information from the CDC and other reliable sources, as well as any government recommendations or mandates that might affect your ability to continue teaching lessons.
If In Doubt, Cancel
If you’re unsure or uneasy about having lessons, it’s best not to. Listen to your gut and put your health and the health of your students first!
We’re all doing our best to act wisely and make informed choices. Sometimes we need to err on the side of caution because it’s just not worth the risk.
Important Note: I am not a licensed medical professional, and nothing in this blog post should replace information, recommendations, or mandatory courses of action from medical experts or the government. This is just some helpful, non-binding advice from one music teacher to another on how to best protect ourselves and our students during a time of widespread illness.
How do you keep your studio clean and germ-free? Join the discussion below in the comments section.