COVID-19 and Choral Singing: Research Study Crowdfunding Campaign
Research on Choral Singing and the Transmission of COVID-19
As the National Arts Service Organization for choral music in Canada, Choral Canada helped raise funds for this important and timely study by the University of Alberta. Choral Canada believes this study will help everyone, including policy makers, be more informed about choral singing in relation to COVID-19. The tax-deductible donations are helping fund Canadian research that will also contribute to a growing body of world-wide scientific knowledge around singing. Every dollar donated (minus the fees from the RallyUp crowdfunding platform) was given directly to the University of Alberta's study and all donors are acknowledged here on our website.
If you were unable to donate during our crowdfunding campaign on the RallyUp platform which finished on September 30, 2020, you can still send a tax-receiptable donation to Choral Canada for this study via e-transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also send an email to the same address that includes your name and mailing address to appear on the tax receipt and the name to appear on the donor list (if different from the name on the tax receipt) or if you wish to be anonymous.
About the Research Why is this study needed? There has been considerable media coverage on group singing and its potential in creating super-spreading events. Cases have been cited in Washington, Amsterdam and Berlin where many singers became infected with COVID-19 after their choir rehearsals. This has led to assumptions that singing in close proximity to others was responsible for the transmission of the virus. However, because these rehearsals took place prior to the introduction of physical distancing and other measures to limit virus spread, empirical evidence that the act of singing itself is responsible for the transmission of the virus is lacking. Nonetheless, based largely on this anecdotal evidence, government policies banning choral singing have been implemented across the country. Who is involved and what will they be exploring? A team of University of Alberta researchers has set out to provide scientific, fact-based evidence on the possible transmission of COVID-19 while singing. The study is a collaboration between the University of Alberta’s Vocal Acoustics Lab, the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab, and the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Infectious Diseases. By taking an interdisciplinary approach utilizing each department’s expertise, researchers will be able to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the data generated and will be able to make recommendations on safe practices regarding ventilation, physical distancing and the wearing of masks. While it is true that other similar studies are taking place in different parts of the world, it is important to note that in science, it is always important to have a large data set where findings from one study are corroborated (or refuted) by those of others. This is the only Canadian study of its nature taking place at this time and Choral Canada finds it important that the Canadian research and choral communities contribute to the global gathering of knowledge that is occurring. As opposed to other studies, it will focus exclusively on the singing voice, comparing it to coughing, sneezing, loud talking and humming). Some of the methods utilized will include the measuring of particle size, velocity, direction and distance travelled using multi-dimensional laser field capture with high-speed photography. Computational fluid dynamics will help to further develop data from human-subject experiments using complex computer modelling to test and alter parameters such as number and position of singers, room size, ventilation, etc. Another possible objective will be to test the acoustic impact of singing with a mask and its influence on intelligibility. Particle-emission differences that might exist between professional and amateur singing will also be explored. Ultimately, the study’s findings will provide crucial information to 28,000 choirs across Canada as they make vital decisions about singing together in the context of COVID-19. Research Team Principal Investigators Dr. Laurier Fagnan has devoted his career to understanding the complexities of the human voice in the context of choral singing. As director of the U of A’s Vocal Acoustics Lab and possessing a doctorate in choral conducting (vocal production and acoustics specialty), a masters in vocal pedagogy and a post-graduate certificate in Vocology, he has a deep understanding of the functioning of the human voice in both solo and group-singing contexts. He will design the vocal aspect of experiments and help in the analysis of results. Dr. Carlos Lange of the University of Alberta’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has extensive experience in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), including specialized models in biomedical engineering. He is Director of the CFD-Lab at the University of Alberta and Co-Founder of ISSET, the Institute for Space Science Exploration and technology, where he studies the effects of wind on water vapour transport within the Martian atmosphere. His vast experience in the study and analysis of the dynamics of aerosol movement and behaviour will be crucial to this study as will his knowledge and equipment available in the CFD Lab. Co-Investigators Dr. David Nobes, Faculty of Engineering (mechanical engineer, optic measurement specialist) Dr. Nelson Lee, Faculty of Medicine (infectious disease specialist) Dr. Andrea Opgenorth, Faculty of Medicine (endocrinologist) Collaborators Dr. Michael Zaugg and Pro Coro Canada (research subjects) Dr. Brendan Lord and Choir Alberta (community relations & external communications)
Acknowledgement In order to ensure transparency we would like to acknowledge that a member of the Choral Canada Board of Directors (Laurier Fagnan, President Elect) is one of the researchers working on this study. We would like to advise that Laurier Fagnan has recused himself from the Choral Canada Board discussions relating to the decision of coordinating this Crowdfunding campaign, and that the decision made reflects Choral Canada’s support of the objectives of the study and has not been influenced by Laurier Fagnan’s connection with Choral Canada. Funds raised by the Campaign will be directed to University of Alberta to support the study, and Laurier Fagnan (or others related to Choral Canada) would not receive direct financial or monetary benefit from the funds raised.