Singing In Nurseries 

Singing is one of the most inclusive musical activities – all you need is your voice. Throughout time, singing has united people through anthems and war cries, become a way to express religious or romantic devotion, and process emotion, whether in celebration or mourning. Many nurseries use singing for as an activity as well as an activity transition, helping both verbal and non-verbal children to manage themselves. However, at the moment, singing is still under intense scrutiny due to SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as Coronavirus or Covid-19.

The focus on singing is due to the concern over particle that attack the respiratory system. However, although some venues created a 3-metre social distance, this is now thought to be unnecessary based on a previous study on tuberculosis, also an airborne condition that affects the lungs. This study found that although 6 times more particles were generated during singing than talking, larger particles dropped to the ground, so were not actually transmitted. So they may not result in infection at all.

However, despite the risk, singing can manage panic and disruption, and promote physical, mental and social health in times of crisis (Gupta, 2020). Increasingly, the arts in general and music specifically, has been recognised for not only its health but medical benefits, as evidence shows that it can reduce high blood pressure and cortisol levels, symptoms of many conditions including heart and lung disease, as well as mental health, like anxiety, stress and depression. This is why the government requested studies from music and physics specialists.


A few March choir rehearsals around the world hit the news (McKie, 2020), with one American choir rehearsal resulting in 20 possible and 32 confirmed covid cases from 61 people, (3 hospitalised, 2 deaths); and a Berlin choir with 102 infected (3 hospitalised, 1 death) from 130 people. Currently we understand that transmissions were either due to the increased production of respiratory particles or interpersonal behaviour – hugging, kissing, sharing cups and standing near each other – all common preschool behaviours.

The science behind the guidance

In June, Dr Naunheim et al (2020) summarised the available data on respiratory particles in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. With the virus in the respiratory tract, it is assumed that transmission occurs through aerosols (air-based droplets) which survive on surfaces, with no clear source of infection. Particles are produced through speech, sneezing and coughing, but these do not guarantee spread or infection. Compared to normal-volume speech, both louder and whispered speech increased aerosols. Microphone use reduced the potential for transmission, but it is not yet known whether different voice types, registers or styles affect aerosol production.

Transmission appears to occur from person to person after close contact, and while a 1-metre physical distance reduces the infection risk by 82%, being in close quarters does not guarantee infection. There is also no specific guidance for minimum room ventilation, although open doors and windows appear to disperse more particles than mechanical ventilation. High temperatures and humidity also appear to decrease infection rates, and other coronaviruses show that while high quality (N95, surgical) masks completely protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection, cloth masks effectively reduce the initial impact (correlated with an improved recovery rate) of the virus when used with several layers of water-resistant fabric. Eye protection has not been identified as necessary or beneficial as yet, but it has been beneficial in other outbreaks.

High risk groups include those with obesity and diabetes as they have specifically been correlated with worse outcomes, and the increased infection in black and Asian communities is linked with historic inequalities rather than a genetic predisposition. These factors must be accounted for in risk assessments (Performing Arts – Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance – GOV.UK, 2020).

Government guidance

UK government guidance (Department for Education UK, 2020) prevented indoor group singing from March until 15 August while researchers trialled safer ways to sing. Initially, only trained singers were permitted to sing (training in breath control reduced particle production) to groups outdoors, but people within groups could not sing at all, along with wind instruments. This is changing as more research becomes available.

One of the leading organisations for music teaching, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, summarised the government guidance (Easing the Lockdown, 2020), recommending a return to previous activities as far as possible, subject to a clear risk assessment that covers:

  • group risk of infection
  • room layout
  • cleaning and hygiene arrangements
  • parent communication
  • timing of measures

Risk of infection should address:

  • social distancing (2 metres between adults, minimise time when within 1 metre)
  • ventilation (at least 10 litres per second per person)
  • regular, natural airflow
  • appropriate protective equipment
  • group lessons (limit numbers through social bubbles)
  • timetabling (planned cleaning, fresh air, handwashing etc.)

Lockdown nursery singing in practice

Norwegian preschools (Samuelsson et al., 2020) mentioned a “continuation of reading and singing” to children as normal in smaller groups, while preschools in the United States referred to a “daily routine of music and movement sessions”. All used extra hand washing, smaller group sizes, lower teacher-child ratios, restricted parent access and social distancing (between 1-1.83m). Adults in nurseries in Norway and Sweden used face masks, recognising education as a fundamental value of society. Mask use varied in the United States where teachers were more concerned with children “falling behind”. All were concerned about personal health, duty to children, lack of preparation for disease control (despite previous protocols in place) and the ability to sustain new hygiene protocols. Teachers also identified positive outcomes, including greater opportunities for personalisation and following up individual interests, learning new technological skills, and a need to continue occasional updates to prepare for future outbreaks.


There are clear concerns about the multiple effects of reduced physical and social interaction on child development, including PPE, which may impact the ability to communicate (Hampton et al., 2020). And as children begin to return to school, there are ongoing reports of suspected cases and class closures, reduced testing facilities and area-wide lockdowns of various degrees. This was bound to happen as we explore the limits of the safest way to continue living while specialists research and test solutions. However, guidance recommends that singing should not stop but be continued as safely as possible using risk assessments, PPE, social distancing and limiting numbers, reducing time, increasing hygiene awareness and natural airflow as much as possible.


Department for Education UK. (2020). Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020. Crown Copyright.

Easing the lockdown: Schools reopening. (2020). ISM.

Gupta, N. (2020). Singing Away the Social Distancing Blues: Art Therapy in a Time of Coronavirus. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 0022167820927807.

Hampton, T., Crunkhorn, R., Lowe, N., Bhat, J., Hogg, E., Afifi, W., De, S., Street, I., Sharma, R., Krishnan, M., Clarke, R., Dasgupta, S., Ratnayake, S., & Sharma, S. (2020). The negative impact of wearing personal protective equipment on communication during coronavirus disease 2019. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 1–5.

McKie, R. (2020, May 17). Did singing together spread coronavirus to four choirs? The Observer.

Naunheim, M. R., Bock, J., Doucette, P. A., Hoch, M., Howell, I., Johns, M. M., Johnson, A. M., Krishna, P., Meyer, D., Milstein, C. F., Nix, J., Pitman, M. J., Robinson-Martin, T., Rubin, A. D., Sataloff, R. T., Sims, H. S., Titze, I. R., & Carroll, T. L. (2020). Safer Singing During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: What We Know and What We Don’t. Journal of Voice.

Performing arts—Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)—Guidance—GOV.UK. (2020).

Samuelsson, I. P., Wagner, J. T., & Ødegaard, E. E. (2020). The Coronavirus Pandemic and Lessons Learned in Preschools in Norway, Sweden and the United States: OMEP Policy Forum. International Journal of Early Childhood, 1–16.

Spahn, C., & Richter, B. (2020). Risk Assessment of a Coronavirus Infection in the field of music.


Singing in nurseries not only helps children to manage themselves but also provides numerous benefits for their development. Singing helps in improving language development, enhancing memory skills, and boosting confidence. According to research, children who sing regularly have better social skills and are more likely to excel academically. Singing helps in promoting creativity and imagination, making it an essential skill for overall development. At Musicaliti, we provide singing for nurseries that focus on fun and interactive sessions that incorporate music education into their daily routine. Join us now and let’s create a love for music that lasts for a lifetime.

Language Dev

Singing helps in improving language development, enhancing memory skills, and boosting confidence.

Memory Skills

Singing helps in improving language development, enhancing memory skills, and boosting confidence.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive musical content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive musical content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *