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Start the music!

7 June 2020

Abbey Road Studios, closed for the first time in 90 years. Photo David Boyle (CC BY 2.0)

Musicians are starting to get back to work. The world famous Abbey Road studios started recording again on 4 June. The Musicians Union has been active in working out how to get their members back to work safely and practically.

The first post lockdown recording session at Abbey Road was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra working with jazz singer Melody Gardot joining remotely from Paris. It was also the first time since March that the RPO has been able to get together.

RPO board member Sali-Wyn Ryan, said, “After the last few months it was such a reassuring experience to meet my colleagues again…The environment at Abbey Road felt welcoming and safe and it was a great thrill to perform together again.”

“It was a great thrill to perform together again.”

The RPO Abbey Road session was set up to abide by the two-metre rule, but that isn’t going to cover other circumstances. Music and the arts rely heavily on live events which present challenges for returning to work on top of those faced by other sectors. The MU is talking to government and other bodies about relaxing the distancing rule when it is safe to do so as well as other mitigating measures.

The MU suggest that depending on the situation, those measures could for example include the use of screens or personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as sitting side by side or back to back. That would be supported by access to testing.

The MU recognises the need for practicality, eg reduced capacity at gigs and concerts. But feels that the BBC and other media miss the nuances of their conversations about a safe return to work. However that practicality doesn’t seem to extend to education as the MU is backing the National Education Union’s absolutist stance on safety.