COVID Testing Before Indoor Singing

Version: 22 Dec 2022

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Why test before singing?

  • Indoor shape-note singing at full voice for an extended period of time in a relatively small space is among the riskiest situations for transmitting an airborne illness like COVID.
  • Criteria exist for managing the risk for outdoor events, or for indoor events when the prevalence of the disease is extremely low. But what about singing indoors when there is moderate prevalence of disease, as is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future?
  • Rapid antigen testing for COVID is faster, cheaper, and more private than laboratory PCR testing.
  • With a rapid antigen test, we can be 98% certain that if someone has a negative test, they will not be contagious to others during the singing.
  • The most important thing about these tests is that they can be done quickly, cheaply, and on the same day as the singing event, before anyone gets exposed.
  • When the entire class has tested negative, the risk of infection to everyone at the singing is greatly reduced.

See also: Science and explanation behind same-day COVID testing before indoor singing

How is the test done?

Swab both nostrils with a circular motion.
  • The rapid antigen test is easy to perform with a nasal swab, and yields a result in just a few minutes.
  • Instructional videos
  • Write down the pertinent info: date/time, result, brand name of the test, and expiration date.
  • Bring the written information and a photo of your test strip to the singing for verification.

How are the results verified?

  • For this to be effective, it is crucial that the entire class do a same-day COVID antigen test, and verify the result at the venue.
  • After you test at home on the same day, when you arrive at the singing be prepared to record on the clipboard:
    • Your name and contact info
    • The date, time, and place of your test
    • The result of your test–was it negative?
    • The brand name and expiration date of your test (bring a photo of your test kit box, if needed)
    • Snap a phone-picture of your test at the appropriate reading time. Don’t bring the actual test cassette.
  • Show the photo of your test strip to the registrar or safety monitor.
Bring a picture of your result with the details.
Example test box with brand name and expiration date
  • If you don’t have access to a test at home, the organizers may choose to provide test kits on arrival. Do the test outside the singing space, and record the results on the clipboard before you enter.
  • Try to arrive twenty minutes early if you want to do the test on-site.

What if I get a positive test?

  • Don’t go singing if you get a positive test, or if you have any symptoms that are associated with COVID.
Positive rapid antigen test
  • Regardless of the results of COVID testing (PCR or antigen), no one with symptoms should attend a singing.
  • Consult a health care provider about further testing and care.

Where can I get the test kits?

  • If you need help arranging a rapid antigen test for COVID, do contact singing organizers in advance.
  • There are many suitable US brands such as:
    • BinaxNOW
    • Quidel QuickVue
    • IntellSwab
    • Roche
    • iHealth
  • You can get them from local pharmacies or on-line, at reasonable cost and without a prescription.
  • Occasionally, government programs distribute kits without cost. Check with your county health department.
  • Most people with a health plan can go online, or to a pharmacy or store to purchase an at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge through their insurance.”
  • Rapid test kits are available sporadically; they are not in stock at all retail sites at all times. A web search helps to narrow down price and availability before you go to the store.
    • Walgreens, CVS
    • Walmart, Target
    • Kroger
  • Consider getting the test kits you need well in advance of a planned outing.
  • Singing organizers might consider ordering tests wholesale, and asking singers to reimburse the cost.
  • Check the expiration dates before you buy them.
  • Singers can post on social media when they find a “good deal,” enabling others to stock up.


  • Anyone with symptoms that might indicate COVID infection will stay home, regardless of their test result.
  • Test-to-sing” is predicated on the idea that each singer is already vaccinated and boosted, and that they have no symptoms of Covid on the day of the singing.
  • Event organizers will verify rapid testing for each participant, each day.
    • One common method of verification is to do the test at home, then bring a cellphone photo of the test strip, read at the appropriate time. It’s also helpful to write the name, date and time on the test cassette or a slip of paper, visible in the photo.
    • At a large event, organizers might consider some sort of visual cue, such as a handstamp, a wristband, a color-sticker on the nametag, etc.
    • While organizers may have spare tests available at the door, singers should try to test at home if possible.
  • Our aim is that each vaccinated singer has no symptoms, and a negative test. Under these conditions, we can be most certain that they won’t be contagious to others.
  • Everyone who attends needs to be fully vaccinated, including a bivalent booster when available, at least two weeks before a singing event.
    • Some regional singings are culturally averse to vaccination. Geographic clustering of resistance to vaccination is a recognized problem in public health.
    • Vaccination protects the individual from serious illness; same-day testing, and other precautions, protect the entire class.
    • But bear in mind that vaccination may also significantly decrease contagiousness to others in case of infection. The benefits of vaccination extend beyond the individual.
  • Anyone with direct, known exposure to COVID in the previous two weeks will stay home.
  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID will avoid singing for the following two weeks.
  • Organizers will publicize their safety measures well in advance of an event, and avoid last-minute changes.
  • Additional safety measures can still be used, such as masking, distancing, singing outdoors, and providing good ventilation for indoor spaces.
    • Masking and distancing are not likely to be effective in a poorly-ventilated, indoor singing space.
  • Organizers will obtain contact information for each participant, and keep it for a few weeks after an event in case notifications and contact tracing become necessary.
  • Anyone who becomes ill within a week of attending an event will contact the event organizers, and assist with contact tracing.
  • Organizers will keep individual reports of illness confidential, but publicly report about ten days after the event regarding the aggregate results of the precautions. Were there sporadic cases reported? Was there epidemic spread?
  • This section:

What about young children?

  • Screening of asymptomatic children can be appropriate, particularly before higher-risk indoor activities.
  • The rapid antigen test is performed with a swab inside the outer nostrils, not the deep nasopharynx. This means a caregiver can perform the test on a child by swabbing three or four circles inside both nostrils, no more than ½-inch deep.
  • If swabbing is not difficult for the child, then they can be tested before the singing, just like the adults.

Other questions about testing before indoor singing?

Contact David Brodeur

See also: Science and explanation behind same-day COVID testing before indoor singing