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C-19: Getting Back Together?

Trying to work out the answer to this question is far from easy. Here are my thoughts for current & prospective students and my string ensembles.
Food for thought: "Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, handshakes away from each other"
Updated 13/07/20
This is what I am seeing 3 months from now:
Washington University Covid-19 Modelling

"People in town just aren't social-distancing." 

"Everyone is acting as if everything is OK when it's not."

"A lot of people are just ignoring the advice."

Without exception, everyone we know wants to be back together to play together. However it is obvious to most that this isn't going to be easy. The safest and wisest way is to go with the science and the data, not what others might merely feel is OK to do in these circumstances.  We don't want to contribute to a second wave and we certainly don't want to be 'in' the wave as a patient. 

For all my students and The Cloud Ensemble we have a number of variables to consider. Our nearest and dearest will be concerned about our intentions and the risks we are taking. In addition for The Cloud because of our 'real & virtual' identity and purpose, we have substantial technical issues which need to be considered which includes such things as the far greater care needed in the handling and cleaning of the computers/cabling/projector/amps etc. 

So I have come up with a 'cunning plan' or what could be called a "5 Stage Process" to get us back together safely eventually. There are no dates unfortunately and it doesn't follow that we can't also go back a stage especially this winter.

Stage 1 - FULL LOCKDOWN (Virus rampant in the population) - Stay Home etc. We are currently out of this but we could go back to it.

ZoomViolin Tuition only - Virtual Performances only - No Face-To-Face Rehearsals of any kind 

Stage 2 - ECONOMIC LOCKDOWN EASING (Virus generally in the population) - only very limited easing for social circumstances. We are currently in this stage.

Virtual Performances only - No more than a DUET can meet inside so NO QUARTET YET. Equally it is very unlikely at this stage that I would consider face-to-face teaching.

Stage 3 - SOCIAL LOCKDOWN EASING (virus evident but clearly waning) - multiple members of different families inside allowed but with mitigations

For health reasons ZoomViolin lessons will remain the preferred choice.

QUARTET REHEARSALS MAY START (for the main core members: Andrew H, Shiho, Philippa & Andrew S) Mitigations: handwashing, 2 metres, facemasks etc. Note that due to the care needed in handling/cleaning of instruments & in the case of The Cloud Ensemble, computer equipment the rehearsals will have to be at Cheltenham Road.

STAGE 3 may be when we can start to get back together. More details will be added here as we get to know more.


For Violin Lessons & Cloud Ensemble rehearsals to restart in Stage 3 there will have to be a high degree of openness and trust between players. For example, players & students must communicate if they have had to take risks with social distancing measures or someone they know has had to self-isolate.

Stage 4 - SOCIAL LOCKDOWN EASED to minimum, (mild presence of virus) - larger groups permitted indoors but still with mitigations 

Face-to-face lessons are likely, QUARTET REHEARSALS + WHEN REQUIRED, GUEST SOLOISTS (Miriam, Sue, Alex, Rod, Philip & Imogen) with consideration for handwashing, 2 metres, facemasks etc. Handling/cleaning of computer equipment & instruments the rehearsals & lessons will remain at Cheltenham Road.

Stage 5 - UNLOCKED! (no virus) - back to just getting on with life, playing, performing and having FUN!

Experience of Hospitalisation

Covid-19 isn't just flu. It is a broad range of symptoms which can be very difficult to deal with. Many people have little if any experience of this degree of ill-health.

Having recently had a bad accident, I have had recent experience of hospitalisation and what's involved in the recovery.

This degree of possible trauma isn't worth risking.


Facemask Research - Oxford University

UK Covid-19 Projections - Washington University

WHO Website - C19 Advice for the Public

UK GOV - C19 Statistics


Economic Lockdown: Measures related to the obvious need to get the economy restarted. These have greater risks attached to them.

Social Lockdown: Measures taken to protect individual members of the public from the disease. Social lockdown measures fit much more closely to the needs of non-commercial music groups such as ours.


At various points in the process we need to consider the provision of handwashing facilities, the use of facemasks, the cleansing of the rehearsal room both before and afterwards, and the handling and cleaning of the digital equipment we use.


Last but not least we need to consider the people we interact with most particularly their concerns about us meeting up. If we are to meet to play together we need to provide them with the confidence that we do not intend to put them at risk.

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