TEACHERS have called on Nicola Sturgeon to 'stop demonising singing' during the coronavirus crisis to allow children to be able to properly engage with music lessons.

A review of 'the science' carried out by a Scottish music education charity concluded that there is no data showing a "statistically significant" added risk of viral transmission from singing and playing musical instruments on top of the "already considerable risk" in gathering socially when Covid restrictions are in place.

The study carried out by the Music Education Partnership Group (MEPG) – a charity drawing its membership from 53 organisations involved in music education warns that currently in Scotland young people enrolled for certain wind instrument and singinng lessons are "missing out" on learning because of the Covid rules.

"This will likely put them at great disadvantage in terms of their progress (including for Scottish Qualifications Authority accreditation) and also deny them the enjoyment and fulfilment of developing skills in their chosen instrument as individuals and with others," they said.

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"Face-to-face instrumental and voice lessons have been (and still are) delivered on a daily basis in education settings in England, supported by a range of appropriate mitigations. Young people in Scotland should also be afforded these opportunities now."

It comes after church choir leaders called on the Scottish Government to allow them to return to singing after a landmark study showed the activity is no more likely to spread Covid-19 than talking.

Several groups have joined the campaign to ‘get Scotland singing again’, arguing that in light of the results it is unfair to allow people to take part in other activities such as going to the pub, but not singing.

Groundp-breaking research led by Imperial College London and the University of Bristol found in July that singing is no more likely to spread aerosols and droplets than talking at a similar volume.

The preliminary study looked at the amount of aerosols and droplets generated by a group of 25 professional performers completing a range of exercises including breathing, speaking, coughing and singing.

As part of this, individuals were tested singing and speaking ‘Happy Birthday’ at different volumes.

Researchers found there is a steep rise in the mass of liquid droplets expelled with an increase in the loudness of singing or speaking, rising by as much as a factor of 20-30. However, they found singing "does not produce very substantially more aerosol" than speaking at a similar volume.

There were also no significant differences in aerosol production between genders or among different genres including choral, musical theatre, opera and pop.

John Wallace, chair of the music education partnership group said: "There is much more harm done to children, young people, and society in general, through not participating in music, than by being silenced through not singing and playing.

"With all the tried and tested mitigations, including social distancing in place, there is no statistically significant added risk in allowing school children to return to face to face music making. For the sake of the health and well-being of many tens of thousands of Scottish schoolchildren they should not be denied what has been deemed essential for their English peer group south of the border since June."

The Following the Science review looked at studies relating to singing and brass, woodwind and bagpipe playing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that the current Covid-19 situation has resulted in "widespread concern and uncertainty relating to musical performance and the potential risks associated with singing and brass, woodwind and bagpipe playing".

"Ways can and should be found of continuing the practice of music-making despite the global pandemic," it said.

"During the pandemic there has been a tendency to demonise certain musical activities such as singing, woodwind, brass and bagpipe playing as uniquely aerosol-producing activities. Current evidence from research does not support this view.

"Normal breathing and speaking produce aerosols. Moderate to strenuous exercise, shouting, speaking, singing and playing loudly, produce a greater number of aerosols.

"There is no current data showing a statistically significant added risk of viral transmission from singing and playing these instruments on top of the already considerable risk in gathering socially in both domestic and public settings when suitable mitigations are in place."

Asked about the possibility of allowing singing, the First Minister said the guidance is based on the scientific evidence over the way the virus transmits.

She said: "We will always look at guidance on an ongoing basis. "None of us want any of these restrictions to be in place for a moment longer than they have to be and we will look all the time whether we can ease things as hopefully the prevalence of the infection falls, or as we learn more about the virus. Some risks we thought were risks previously might be less of a concern now.

"When people are shouting over loud noise or singing, that can increase the risk of the virus spreading. We have to take account of that if we are trying to limit, mitigate and minimise transmission.

"All of this is most difficult for children right now but we will not keep anyh of these restrictions in place for any longer than we consider to be absolutely necessary."