COVID-19 and Music Teaching Information

The New Brunswick Registered Music Teachers' Association (NBRMTA) is not in a position to advocate either staying closed or reopening. We only advise that you thoroughly read the information provided, do your own independent research and evaluate your own situation independently.

Information and Needs Regarding Re-Starting In Person Music Lessons in New Brunswick

*****It is important to note that the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick continue to encourage any business and anyone that can work from home to continue to do so until a vaccine is available.*****

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of New Brunswick was contacted for clarification on teaching music lessons in person (this information is presumptive of piano lessons). The information given was:
*It is permissible to teach one person to one person (no group lessons) so long as:
~ Each student and teacher social distance at 2 metres/6 feet apart or wear masks
            ~ Have the proper documentation per Public Health Office, WorksafeNB, and Emergency Measures Orders regarding the special COVID-19 protocols (which you may be requested to produce upon request at any time by a customer/client or any representative of the Office of Public Health, emergency personnel, public safety officer or officer of the law)
            ~ A client/customer questionnaire
~ Contact tracing records
~ Specific and sufficient signage posted regarding your COVID-19 processes
~ Cleaning and disinfecting protocols
~ Hand Sanitizing Stations available

It has also been noted that the New Brunswick Government is quite reluctant to give specific details regarding music lessons/choral sessions, etc., as there are wide-ranging decisions regarding music lessons, bands and choirs across Canada and the United States (many provinces and states are not allowing school bands or any choral groups of any kind to operate in the fall session. (from NATS/MTNA/ACDA webinar from May 26, 2020)

With the intent to assist you in making decisions regarding if/when you will resume in person teaching, and to provide you with as much pertinent information from the Canadian and New Brunswick Government, we are proving the following information and links.

With the intent to assist you in making decisions regarding if/when you will resume in person teaching, and to provide you with as much pertinent information from the Canadian and New Brunswick Government, as well as some of the newest research and information from musicologists and National Music Associations from around the world, we are proving the following information and links.

NOTE: This information is not intended to be complete, definitive, or absolute. It is intended for informational purposes only for a more informed understanding of your individual situations and to be shared with your students and parents to help them better understand your decision whether to resume in person lessons or not.

Music Teachers wishing to re-start in person music lessons need to visit the following vital websites and review the complete information provided by each:
~ WorkSafeNB guideEmbracing the New Normal as We Safely Return to Work – Guidelines for New Brunswick workplaces re-opening in a COVID-19 environment
~ NB Public Health documentGuidance Document of General Public Health Measures During COVID-19 Recovery
~ WorkSafeNBCOVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions
~ Government of New BrunswickCOVID-19 Operational Plan Guide
~ Government of Canada "COVID-19 Risks of Transmission"

Also, your studio must have completed a Government of Canada risk assessment to determine the engineering, administrative controls and/or PPE controls necessary to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

NOTE: In New Brunswick the fine for violating Public Health or Emergency Measures Orders is a fine in the amount of $240 plus surcharge and fees. In instances where an offence is brought to court, in certain circumstances a judge may issue a fine up to an amount not exceeding $10,200 plus surcharge and fees

Here is a quick overview of what you need to do/have in place before you are actually allowed to resume in person teaching:

As different types of businesses are allowed to reopen in phases, your business must create and implement a COVID-19 Operational plan.

  • The plan must follow the recommendations and requirements of New Brunswick Office of Public Health;
  • The plan must follow the recommendations and requirements of the Government of New Brunswick's Mandatory Order for COVID-19;
  • The plan must outline how your business will manage the safe opening and operation
  • A copy of the plan must be present at all times and available for review by government officials, Public Health Inspectors, WorkSafe NB or the Department of Public Safety, clients/customers. Representatives from any of these departments (and others) may perform unannounced or pre-scheduled visits at your place of teaching at any time upon resumption of in person teaching.

Of particular interest to music teachers from the document linked above (Government of Canada "COVID-19 Risks of Transmission":
COVID-19 can also be spread through touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

  • Do clients frequently have contact with high-touch surfaces? A higher frequency of contact with high-touch surfaces (door handles, service counters, card payment machines, washrooms are presumed to have greater risks) – NOTE: In a Music Lesson, this would include PIANO, BENCHES, MUSIC STANDS, MUSIC BOOKS, MUSIC PAGES/COPIES, DICTATION/NOTE BOOKS, PENCILS, PENS, DOOR HANDLES, etc. Cleaning and disinfecting all of those items and more need to be included in your plan and time to do so between students will need to be factored in as well.

COVID-19 spreads from person to person, most commonly through respiratory droplets (e.g., generated by a coughing, sneezing, laughing or talking – NOTE FOR MUSIC LESSONS THIS ALSO INCLUDES SINGING) during close interactions. COVID-19 can be spread by infected individuals who have mild symptoms, or who have not yet or who may never develop symptoms.

  • Do employees (MUSIC TEACHERS) have prolonged close interactions with clients or other employees? Do clients (MUSIC STUDENTS) have prolonged close interactions with other clients (MUSIC STUDENTS)? Prolonged contact is defined as lasting for more than 15 minutes, and may be cumulative (i.e., over multiple interactions). Person-to-person spread is more likely with prolonged contact.
  • Is the workplace indoors or outdoors? If indoors, can windows be opened? A confined indoor space is presumed to have greater risk.

In the most recent New Brunswick Emergency Measures Act (effective as of June 11, 2020) One paragraph of note for music teachers:

  1. Everyone who find themselves in any location, other than in their own home, in which distancing as per this order is not possible must either remove themselves promptly from the location or must wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose.

The Guidance Document of General Public Health Measures During COVID-19 Recovery is listed as a link at the beginning of this memo (“Guidance Document of General Public Health Measures During COVID-19 Recovery”).  Music Teachers preparing to restart in person lessons need to review Appendix D in particular, which has a checklist of the items that you will need to have and processes you need to have in place prior to restarting in person music lessons.

The Government of New Brunswick’s “COVID-19 Operational Plan Guide” (is also listed as a link at the start of this memo) is designed to assist people in deciding when/if to open and how. We encourage teachers to take particular notice of the cleaning and disinfecting protocols for general business reopening.

The NBRTMA was sent the following information regarding the special needs that pianos and electronic keyboards have for cleaning and disinfecting that covers both acoustic and electric keys and how cleaners may impact them, a blog by Aaron Filpo.

The NBRMTA was also sent the following information originating from England. This information was shared with their music teachers/studios that covers the more intimate intricacies of in person music lessons:

"Many educational organizations, primarily those capable of organizing "classroom-lessons", are thinking of restarting their activities within the frame of strict hygiene and precaution rules.

What is the situation with one-to-one instrumental or voice sessions?

General Set-up

A one-to-one piano lesson involves:

1) A piano used both by the teacher and the student

2) A student sat in front of the piano

3) A teacher sat between 30 cm to 1 m from the student.

The Piano

1) The piano is made of wood and ivory, in the case of old pianos.

2) New digital pianos are made of wood and plastic.

3) Wood is a porous surface, mainly present in the inner or hidden side of the keys.

4) Wood is a tough surface to clean.

According to:

The virus survives on wood for 4-days!

The virus survives on plastic for 3-days!

One millimetre gaps separate one key from the other. During the action, the inner side of the key surface comes in contact with the side of the student's fingers.

The keyboard of the piano offers a huge challenge during the pandemic, particularly,

Its proper disinfection.

How do we guarantee that the inner faces of the keys of all our keyboards are properly disinfected? How do we treat the instrument without wetting it?

These are questions which remain unanswered at the current point of time.

The area in which you teach your lesson, as well as the bathroom accessed by students/teacher(s)/parents are considered “public” areas. As such, the “Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces document, available as a PDF from the Government of Canada website must be followed. That document states: “Use only approved hard-surface disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms the disinfectant product is approved and safe for use”. Music Teachers need to be aware that these types of cleaners may or may not be advisable to use on your instrument and surrounding products like benches and books.

Hopefully, you will find the information you need to safely and effectively re-open your studio provided within this document. For any further questions or information, please contact New Brunswick Public Health directly at: 1-833-799-7966.

As a final point of assistance in re-starting in person music lessons, NBRMTA is providing a sample "Student Screening Questionnaire" that you can use or modify as needed for use with your students, parents and other teachers that you may be working with upon re-starting face to face lessons.

As per Each person that enters your teaching space needs to answer a COVID-19 Screening questionnaire. The answers need to be written down with date and time and kept on hand for reference as/if needed. Taking a student’s temperature before a lesson is optional, however the questionnaire being completed is not. A sample of such is as follows:

Student Screening Form

Screener Name:
Date of Screening:
Student Name: Contact Email:
Student Age: Contact Phone:
1. Do you have a fever or have felt hot anytime in the last 2 weeks? YES   NO
2. Student Temperature at start of lesson (if elevated, student is unable to have lesson and unable to enter lesson premises) YES NO
3. Does student have any of these symptoms (if yes, note them)? Cough? Sore Throat? Runny Nose? Shortness of Breath? Difficulty Breathing? YES NOTES: NO
4. Has student experienced a loss of taste or smell in the past week? YES NO
5. Has student been in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 Positive people or anyone who is self-isolating? YES NO


The New Brunswick Registered Music Teachers' Association (NBRMTA) is not in a position to advocate either staying closed or reopening. We only advise that you thoroughly read the information provided, do your own independent research and evaluate your own situation independently.

Information previously shared in the NBRMTA April 2020 newsletter, "The Quarternote", and in direct email to the Membership is now available in this one place.


Membership Email sent May 12, 2020:
With the COVID-19 crisis seemingly easing in New Brunswick, other parts of our country and many other countries around the world (especially our neighbours, the United States) are still in the throes of the pandemic.

Conversations have been occurring between music associations such as NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), ACDA (American Choral Directors Association), MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), Barbershop International and more. The results of these conversations (many held via webinar) are being fairly widely shared.

This one was shared by all of the above associations. Even though it was mainly a "singing" focused conversation, if you share studio space with singers, or have your instrumental students sing anything from melody to intervals, this is something you may want to read and take time to consider:

Canada's own Rebekah Maxner has posted a fairly in depth overview of re-starting a piano/music studio with direct information and recommendations from a medical doctor (her sister). Admittedly, this was an intense and eye-opening read that takes a fair amount of time to digest the ramifications of the situation on a music studio. The article can be found here:

The MTNA is an American association, so the following information is not (necessarily) legal in Canada. This information was compiled for the MTNA membership by their legal team/counsel, but gives potentially prudent information for Canadian studios as the situation continues to change.
by Scott Gilligan,MTNA Legal Counsel

With states either implementing or considering the reopening of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, MTNA members have a number of questions regarding the legal ramifications of reopening music studios and teaching lessons to students. Below, MTNA has provided answers to several of the legal questions that it has received:

  1. Is there an obligation to go back to in-person lessons?

No. Each music studio will have to determine what procedures it is comfortable with going forward. There is no requirement to continue in-person lessons if it presents a safety or medical issue. Of course, if students had prepaid for in-person lessons that are no longer being offered, the music studio would have to refund the amount for the lessons that will no longer be provided.

  1. What is my liability if I reopen my music studio and one or more of my students are diagnosed with COVID-19?

This is unchartered territory for the legal system and lawyers. Since we have only been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for a few months, there are no concrete conclusions that can be drawn about potential liabilities for businesses that reopen.

But, there are three major legal doctrines that would come into play in any lawsuit against a music studio owner who reopened his or her studio. The first would be the issue of causation. Considering that the incubation for COVID-19 is usually 14 days and that community spread of the virus is generally found in every city and town in the U.S., it will be nearly impossible for a student to be able to pinpoint that his or her exposure happened at the music studio. Absent some type of clear cut evidence, this would be problematic to pinpoint where any person was infected.

Secondly, in order to establish liability, the student would have to prove that the music studio was negligent. If a studio opened up in violation of any applicable stay-at-home order, negligence would not be difficult to show. But, if the music studio operated in compliance with state and local restrictions and orders, and if it followed current CDC and state health regulations, negligence would be very difficult to prove.

The third legal doctrine that would come into play is assumption of the risk. If a student sued a music studio for negligently exposing the student to COVID-19, the studio could defend by asserting that the student (or his or her parents) voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risk of exposure by allowing the student to come to the studio. Since everyone is well aware of the risks of COVID-19 infection, anyone who ventures out into a business environment is knowingly assuming the risk of exposure. Courts do not permit a plaintiff to recover for an injury or illness when the plaintiff was aware of the risk and voluntarily assumed it.

While, as noted above, there have been no court decisions regarding the liability of businesses that reopen during the pandemic, the fear of legal liability should not prevent a music studio from reopening. Of course, owners of music studios should implement the safety and health practices mandated or recommended by the CDC and state and local health departments to protect clients and staff, and reduce the risk of legal liability.

  1. What steps can a music studio take to protect the safety of its staff and may the music studio bar persons from its facilities who do not follow safety requirements?

There are numerous steps that music studios may employ to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for students and parents coming to your studio. Below is a list of measures (not necessarily comprehensive) you can implement depending upon the exposure level in your community, your clientele, your studio setup, and your comfort level:

  • Pre-Opening Welcome Back Letter. Music studios should send a pre-reopening letter to all students and parents informing of a reopening date and all infection control procedures that the music studio will be implementing. Emphasize that the procedures are mandatory and must be complied with as a precondition to entering the music studio and/or receiving lessons.
  • Scheduling. Schedule lessons so that there is a gap between students to reduce the number of persons in the studio at any one time.
  • Waiting Room. A music studio may elect to eliminate its waiting room by having students remain in their cars until they are notified by cellphone or text that the teacher is ready to begin the lesson. If a waiting room is used, music studios should remove any and all objects which may be difficult to disinfect.
    Screening List. Music studios should instruct students not to come to the music studio if they have or have had in the past 14 days a cough, a fever, shortness of breath, difficulties breathing, flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal upset, or experienced a loss of taste or smell. It may be beneficial to send to the student the day before his or her lesson a patient screening form which they would fill out indicating that they have had none of the above listed symptoms. To encourage students to be honest, the music studio may want to consider waiving any cancellation fees due to an illness.
  • Limit on Items. Music studios may want to restrict the items that students bring with them into the studio, such as limiting a student to a cellphone and wallet. It may be beneficial for students not to bring into the music studio books and other music instruction materials.
  • Hand Sanitizer. Music studios should place hand sanitizer stations at the entrance of the studio with specific instructions to use it prior to entering the studio and upon leaving the studio. Sanitizer stations should also be placed in instruction rooms.
  • Temperature. The music studio may want to take the temperature of students as they enter the music studio. Touchless forehead scanners are readily available online for less than $100. If an elevated temperature is noted, the students should be instructed not to enter the music studio and to proceed home. (NOTE: over the counter medication such as Advil or Tylenol can be administered prior to arrival to mitigate temperature issues and may negate the temperature taking process)
  • Payment. Music studios may want to require payment by credit cards over the telephone to avoid touching credit cards, checks or cash.
  • Masks. State orders may require the use of facemasks by both the student and studio employees. In addition, even though the state may not require it, a music studio can certainly adopt the policy requiring facemasks to be worn by students and employees. If masks are required, the students should be advised of that beforehand in the written welcome back letter. The music studio may also want to obtain a supply of disposable masks for students who forget to wear one.
  • Sanitation. The music studio should establish a set schedule to sanitize all areas where persons have been during the time the music studio was opened. Obviously, those would include instruments, tables, chair arms, door knobs, light switches, hangers or anywhere else where people come in contact. Surfaces should be cleaned with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfecting them. To disinfect, use products that meet the EPA’s criteria to use against COVID-19.
  1. How should a music studio handle refunds for prepaid lessons that were cancelled and students who no longer wish to continue lessons although there is a contract with the music studio?

This will be a road that each music studio will have to navigate depending upon the wording of its contracts, its existing cancellation policies, the level of COVID-19 infection that exists in its community and the possible public relations fallout if it is perceived as being too heavy handed in the treatment of its students during a pandemic. MTNA recommends that if a member is uncertain how to proceed, it should involve its attorney in deciding the proper way to handle cancellations, refunds and terminated contracts.

Even if a music studio has a well-drafted contract that requires a student to pay for all cancelled lessons, in some cases the student may be able to escape liability under the doctrine of impossibility of performance. If a party to a contract is not able to perform because of an event beyond the party’s reasonable control, it can avoid liability under the contract. So, even if students are required to pay for all or some portion of cancelled lessons, if they can show that it was impossible or illegal to attend the lessons because of the pandemic or government orders, they may be relieved of having to pay any cancellation fee under the contract.

  1. If the music studio has employees, could the employees sue the music studio owner if the employees are diagnosed with COVID-19?

Like the answer to Question 1 above, there would again be an issue of causation. Given the community spread of the coronavirus, it would be very difficult for an employee to prove that he or she caught the virus at the music studio.

In addition, employees cannot sue employers because they become sick or injured on the job unless they can show that the employer intentionally put the employee at risk or recklessly disregarded their safety. Instead, the government provides worker’s compensation for employees who get sick or injured because of their employment. Workers compensation provides immunity against employee lawsuits alleging carelessness or negligence on the part of the employer that results in injury or illness to the employee.

Nearly every state (province) will also have orders and/or guidelines regarding reopening. In many states, there are restrictions on the number of persons that can be in the business facility, spacing requirements, mandates on the wearing of face masks, and other measures that a business must take. Please review all such orders and guidance carefully to ensure compliance prior to reopening the music studio.

Information on Online Teaching sent in email to Membership March 16, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: NBRMTA DOES NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THESE PEOPLE OR PRODUCTS. The following information is for you to start the research and review process only.

Sharing knowledge is what we do best as teachers, so if you come across other information, people, or websites that you feel are helpful for other teachers to be aware of, please email: so that the lists can be updated.
Carol Matz & Carly Walton: and

Bradley Sowash:

Jennifer Foxx:

Andrea Dow: and

Rebekah Maxner:

The Frances Clark Centre for Keyboard Pedagogy:

Hugh Sung:

General Online Teaching Platforms/Information on Platforms and Blog Information:

For Apple Mobile Products Only At This Time - Musical Theatre Accompaniment:

Information on Online Teaching sent in email to Membership March 20, 2020

Free Piano Music & Free Course to Quickly Learn to Teach Online from Carol Matz & Carly Walton
Hey friends,
Whether you are being proactive and exploring your options, or need to get set up quickly to prepare for possible school closings, this package has everything you need to get started with online teaching.

You'll get immediate access to the Teach Music Online mini-course (developed by Carly Walton), and a specially compiled 54-page digital music download with music and activities at various levels.

You may print and forward to your online (or temporarily at-home) students. Please feel free to SHARE with other teachers!
~ Carol Matz & Carly Walton

A blog post Titled: Three Keys for Coping in Uncertain Times - sending it as a bit of a reminder for self-health. 🙂