Performance Policies

January 8, 2021


For the Spring 2021 semester, musical performance, including all rehearsals and performances, at the Eastman School of Music will be governed by the following policies. 


***Please note that these policies replace any previously seen guidance***


These guidelines were developed to provide consistent rehearsal organization among the various types of musical performance that will occur during the spring 2021 semester.  Procedures address the safety requirements and population density restrictions as required by the University of Rochester, and are based on advice from health care professionals, research findings as of this date, and information provided by professional organizations involved in music instruction.  Topics include masking expectations, organizing rehearsal time, number limits and placement within a single space, spacing/distribution, performances, and cleaning.

These guidelines apply to all musicians, students and faculty, as well as large ensembles, small and single instrument/studio ensembles, chamber music coaching, student practice sessions for chamber music, and any rehearsal or practice situation with more than one person in the room.  In all situations described below, individuals are always required to abide by revised occupancy limits and should be especially mindful of these limits during music-making activities.  Everyone is responsible for ensuring that maximum posted occupancy limits are not exceeded at any time, and that the presence of all musicians, conductors, faculty, students, technicians, and other individuals are taken in to account when assessing maximum occupancy.


In person and virtual large ensemble participation:

Some students have expressed concerns about participation in the large ensemble program this semester although they have chosen to study in person.  

Instrumental students who are in Rochester and who desire to enroll for in-person lessons and in-person chamber music, and who must fulfill ensemble requirements, will not be eligible for the online ensemble enrollment.  

We are confident that all of our students in ensemble will be safe; however, the Conducting and Ensembles faculty have indicated their willingness to assign students who have serious concerns about the safety of performing with certain instruments into smaller, like-instrument ensembles instead. 

Students who wish to have an adjusted large instrumental ensemble assignment should immediately contact Academic Affairs at (  

A second option available to students who are enrolled but concerned about being around other students—even masked and distanced by at least six feet–would be to change to fully online instruction, making them eligible to enroll in the virtual ensemble.

Students will be able to consider all options – remain in person, transition to fully online study, or take a leave of absence.

Vocalists who have the ability to take their choral ensemble requirement in a future semester can choose not to enroll in ensemble this semester.  However, vocal students who no longer have the option of postponing the requirement, would be required to study in person this semester.  Questions about choral ensemble participation should be directed to Dr. William Weinert.


Masking requirements: Fabric masking, specifically a cloth or standard surgical mask, is required of all individuals, faculty and students, when making music in a room with more than one person.  Performing outdoors does not change the masking requirement.  At this time, no additional types of specialty masks (e.g. singer’s masks designed with additional room around the mouth) are approved for use as there is not solid scientific data that these masks are as safe as cloth or standard surgical masks.  Additional instrument-specific guidance is provided below:

  • Woodwind and brass players should perform with masks that have a slit, small hole, or flap for their mouthpiece, but the mask should always remain on and cover the nose.

  • Singers must wear masks at all times when singing with more than one person in the room.

  • Conductors and coaches must wear masks throughout the rehearsal or coaching session.


Physical distancing: Musicians must maintain 6’ of physical distance when performing[1].  The two exceptions are 1) for singers, who must maintain 12’ of physical distance from others when performing, and 2) for trombone players, who must maintain 9’ distance in front of them when performing (but 6’ to the sides and rear).  Earlier guidance recommended varying distances of 9’, 12’, and 15’ for select instruments (e.g., flute), but results from recent studies indicate that this is not necessary.

In addition, musicians should be seated to face in generally the same direction (a straight line is recommended but a slight curve is OK, while no semi-circular, U-shaped, or face-to-face positioning is allowed).  Instrumental players must also be seated or positioned to avoid sending direct sound and aerosols towards other players.


Additional requirements for instrumentalists: All brass and woodwind players must have a fabric cover over the end of their instrument.  The cover may be as simple as a piece of stretchable fabric over the bell, or a specially designed bell cover for your instrument, as long as the air is diffused to slow any particulates escaping from the end of the instrument.  Eastman will not be providing bell covers for students, and it is expected students will have this equipment in order to participate in lessons, coachings, or rehearsals with others.

Brass players must expel the condensation from their instruments into a covered container or absorbent cloth. They must empty the container in a nearby bathroom or dispose in a nearby garbage can immediately after the music-making session is finished.  No condensation should be expelled on any surface in the rehearsal room, whether there is carpet, wood, or tile flooring in the room.


Rehearsal time: The primary issue with determining rehearsal time is the need for air exchange within the space.  Although this might occur naturally between groups as rehearsal ends and a new group begins, the overall time must also be considered when planning the rehearsal period.  Rehearsals will need to be presented in shorter segments with empty room time placed between the music-making episodes. 

  • For rehearsals involving singers, woodwinds, and brass instruments: There should be 30 minutes of group music-making followed by 30 minutes of down time in a room to allow for air exchange. If you rehearse in a room with an air conditioner, you can use the air conditioner and open the room door to provide additional air flow during the empty room time, but this does not alter the required 30 minutes of down time.  All individuals, including faculty, should leave the room during the down time.

  • For rehearsals involving all other instruments: 60 sequential minutes of rehearsal MAXIMUM is allowed, followed by 30 minutes of down time for air exchange; rehearsal can continue after the down time if addition time is scheduled for the ensemble.  All individuals, including faculty, should vacate the rehearsal space during the down time.

  • For rehearsals in Kodak Hall, Eastman East Wing 415 and Kilbourn Hall involving singers, woodwinds, and brass instruments: 60 sequential minutes of rehearsal MAXIMUM is allowed, followed by 30 minutes of down time for air exchange providing the hour is broken into increments where personnel is changed minimally after 30 minutes.   If only one of the groups includes woodwind/brass instruments, they should go second.

  • Conductors/coaches may NOT remain in the space during the down time. The room door should be left open, if possible, during this time.


Ensemble size: The maximum group size for instrument and vocal ensembles shall be determined by the COVID-19 occupancy limit of the space determined by the physical distancing guidelines. However, regardless of the size of the room, at no time should a musical ensemble exceed 50 individuals.  


Rehearsal logistics: Conductors/coaches are responsible for establishing the most effective traffic patterns for arrival and departure from a space and should reinforce the importance of maintaining a physical distance of 6’ between individuals as they enter and leave a space. This may be accomplished by establishing one-way travel within your rehearsal space.

Conductors/coaches should recommend that students leave extraneous belongings elsewhere when they travel for rehearsal.  Students should make a sincere effort to reduce the number of backpacks, cases, coats, etc., that are brought into the rehearsal space.

It is also strongly recommended that students not share musical scores; they should have their own folder that they bring each time.  In ensembles, consider assigning one stand partner to manage the music.  Another possible equipment asset is a personal iPad or laptop for saving scores, using the pdf versions in rehearsals and coachings.


Private lessons and coachings: For lessons and coachings involving singers, woodwinds, and brass instruments there should be 30 minutes of down time after the lessons to allow for air exchange. If you rehearse in a room with an air conditioner, you can use the air conditioner and open the room door to provide additional air flow during the empty room time, but this does not alter the required 30 minutes of down time.  All individuals, including faculty, should leave the room during the down time.

For lessons involving strings, percussion, guitar, harp, and keyboard instruments there does not need to be any down time between lessons, except for passing time between students (we recommend keeping a brief space of 5-10 minutes between lessons for this purpose).  Physical distancing must be maintained, and masks must always be worn as described above.


Cleaning:  Classrooms used for rehearsals will also be used at non-rehearsal times for individual teaching of studio lessons or other classroom activities.  Upon entering a music-making space and setting up the room attention should be given to the cleaning protocols posted there, using the equipment and materials provided.  Departing users are also expected to use this same procedure before they leave, so there will be two cleanings in the empty 30 minutes between scheduled times.

The conductor/coach is responsible for overseeing the student musicians and ensuring that they follow all posted cleaning protocols.


Length of performances: All performances involving more than one musician may not exceed 60 minutes of music, while performance involving one solo musician for the entire performance may not exceed 90 minutes in length.  This does NOT include set up/tear down time and/or moving musicians and/or changing the setup between pieces.


Dress rehearsals: Dress rehearsals prior to a performance will be allowed and scheduled per the Concert Office’s normal procedures.  Dress rehearsals, however, are to be closed events, with only the participating students and appropriate Eastman faculty (e.g., the student’s applied teacher in the case of a student recital) able to attend and are subject to the time limits stated above.  T&MP will not be able to livestream dress rehearsals, so if a student’s applied teacher cannot attend in person then the student is responsible for making arrangements to stream via Zoom or some other software platform of their choice.


Audience: We will begin the semester will no audiences for any of our performances.  This decision was not made lightly but was made out of an abundance of caution as we begin the semester.  However, as the semester progresses, we will re-evaluate this decision and work with University officials to determine if it is possible to open our halls to a limited number of audience members later in the fall.  A student’s applied teacher and/or recital committee may attend a performance in person as long as they follow all masking and physical distancing guidelines.


Livestreaming:  T&MP will provide livestreaming of all our performances in our major concert halls this spring.  By default, all streams will be password protected and not available to the public, but students and faculty will be able to freely share the password with the friends and family.  All ensemble directors and faculty members who will be presenting faculty recitals will be given the option of removing the password should they wish for their performances for the semester to be made public.  Any petition to suspend livestreaming of a concert must be made to the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs no later than 10 calendar days before the concert.


Special considerations for outdoor performance: Performing outdoors does not change any masking or physical distance rules outlined in this document; rather the only change is that singers may perform for 60 minutes before taking the required 30 minutes of down time.

[1] See for additional information, specifically slides 18 and 34.