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Pianissimo, please! Soft singing could reduce risk of spreading COVID-19

Can singers safely return to the stage? After a widely reported superspreading event in a Washington state choir, and with mounting evidence that SARS-CoV-2 spreads through small, airborne droplets, research projects have sprung up to assess the risk of breath-heavy activities—like playing musical instruments. Now, there’s some tentative good news for singers, The Guardian reports: Singing softly doesn’t produce substantially more aerosols than speaking at the same volume. Researchers tested 25 professional singers speaking and singing into funnels, and measured the mass of tiny aerosol droplets they produced. The results, which have not yet been peer reviewed, showed quiet singing and speaking produced about the same aerosol mass as just breathing, whereas loud singing and shouting produced about 30 times more. It’s good news for individual singers—at least those that can keep their voices down—but the dynamic effects of singing groups in large spaces like cathedrals are still unknown.

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