Health and safety guidance for private music teachers

Please see our COVID-19: Private teaching page for the latest guidance on COVID-19 restrictions in relation to private music teaching.

If you intend to resume face-to-face music tuition with your students, you will need to make sure that you have taken all necessary steps to minimise risks to yourself and your students, including completing a COVID-19 risk assessment. In this article we give you some guidance on the issues you need to consider.

COVID-19 risk assessment

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has its own Health & Safety Executive.

We have based the information in this article on the UK HSE COVID-19 guidance and risk assessment guidance and template. If you are an ISM member you can access a sample risk assessment for a music teacher, that can be adapted for different circumstances.

1. Key principles


The aim of your risk assessment is to protect people (including yourself, and anyone living in your household if you teach at home) from harm if they are receiving music tuition from you and in particular to eliminate or minimise risks of COVID-19 transmission.

You must do the following in your risk assessment:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this is not possible, control the risk.

    You should document all this in writing. You can adapt the HSE template to suit your circumstances.

    You should also create a procedure checklist to mitigate the risks of contamination before, between and after face-to-face lessons.

    It is also worth reminding your students that if you both agree they can receive face-to-face lessons, they accept that such tuition will never be entirely free of risk of contracting COVID-19 but that you have made all efforts to assess risks accurately and to take steps to minimise risks where identified.

    The latest government guidance on COVID-19 must always inform your assessment. Guidance is produced by the UK government (for England) and also by the devolved governments. See section 4 of this page for links.
  • 2. Some practical considerations when assessing risk and how to reduce it


    Things to think about include your student’s health, whether there are other people living with them who could be at risk, how they travel to the lessons, what happens when they arrive and depart, how you manage social distancing and keeping your teaching space clean and safe.

    You also need to consider government guidance on different types of musical activity and whether or not you are permitted yet to give face-to-face lessons in that activity.

    You should also think about yourself and your own situation.

    You and your circumstances

  • Consider whether you have any underlying medical conditions which may increase your risk to expose of COVID-19.
  • Consider whether there are any other members of your household who may have an underlying condition.
  • Are there individuals within your permitted social ‘bubbles’ who you need to consider?
  • Please read the government’s guidance on shielding people who are clinically vulnerable from COVID-19, last updated 10 July 2020. It describes changes which came in to force on 6 July and further changes taking effect from 1 August, when the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. You should take account of this in your risk assessment.
  • Your students

  • What is the health situation of your student? Is there any underlying health issue you need to be aware of? Is anyone in their household shielding or considered to be in a vulnerable group? Before every lesson ask your student if there has been any change.
  • Any student who shows signs of COVID-19 symptoms or who has been asked to self-isolate by any government track and trace service must not attend a face-to-face lesson. You should make sure your contracts with students or their parents covers what happens in this situation. Contact [email protected] if you have any difficulties or questions about unpaid fees.
  • How will your student get to the lesson? Bear in mind current government guidance to avoid use of public transport if possible. If taxis are used what safety measures are they adopting (eg protective screens between passengers and drivers).
  • Avoid joint handling of any materials with your student.
  • Managing arrival and departure at lessons

  • You should schedule face-to-face lessons so that there is no risk of your students (and their parents/accompanying adults) meeting in or near your premises and so that there is also time to clean your teaching space and amenities properly between lessons.
  • Establish a procedure for taking your student from your main door to the music room on arrival, and also for departure.
  • How will you deal with parents or adults accompanying children to the lesson? We advise against letting them into your space if social distancing rules cannot be observed.
  • Minimise risks by asking your student to bring only the minimum necessary equipment to the lesson.
  • Establish handwashing and other safety routines. You are likely to have these in place already: consider if they need to be adapted to be COVID-secure.
  • Remember that the length of time in contact with others is also considered a significant factor in COVID transmission risks. Do not schedule long lessons or allow lessons to overrun.
  • Social distancing

  • The current government default in England remains two metres. ‘One metre plus’ means that if two metres is not achievable, a minimum of one metre is permissible but only if mitigating actions are taken. These can include wearing face coverings, protective visors, arranging the music room to maximise the distance between you and your student.
  • Your teaching space

  • Make sure you can observe social distancing rules in your space. Think about the route your students will take across the space, your own route and make sure you can always keep an appropriate distance. Think about access to entrances and exits.
  • Research suggests that keeping a music space well ventilated is a good risk reduction action, during lessons and also in between.
  • Make it easy for your student to follow any cleanliness rules.
  • If you are teaching in an external rented premises, check with your landlord to see if they have any risk assessments or sanitisation procedures you need to follow.
  • If you are working with others in a shared space, have you spoken with those who work alongside to ensure they are also applying appropriate COVID procedures?
  • Keeping your space clean

  • Minimise the physical points of contact your student can have in your space. Only you should open and close doors and windows, or touch light switches, heating controls, etc.
  • All contact surfaces and points must be thoroughly cleaned before and after lessons.
  • Ensure your washroom amenities are cleaned thoroughly before and after each lesson, and ensure you have soap, sanitiser and disposable towels available.
  • Musical activities and risk

  • There is evidence to suggest that different instruments and activities carry different levels of coronavirus transmission risk. You should follow government guidance, where it exists, on risks associated with musical activities.
  • This means that even if social distancing rules are observed fully, there may still be a greater risk of transmission in some cases.
  • Singing is considered to be a risky activity in terms of potential COVID-19 transmission. The government appears to be taking a risk-averse approach in respect of singing at present. For example, current UK government guidance on small marriages and civil partnerships and also places of worship prohibits communal singing. In other work environments reduction of noise is considered important in order to limit the need for individuals to raise their voices to be heard – because of the increased risk of transmission as a result.
  • Brass and wind instruments are also considered at present to bear additional risks of transmission. Instruments that are blown into are also mentioned in the government advice on marriages and worship referenced above.
  • 3. Do I need a risk assessment for each household I teach in?

    In principle, the answer is yes, as it is your responsibility to provide your lessons safely and protect the health and safety of yourself and your clients.

    Where the core of your activities stays the same, you can include the same risk assessment activities and connected protective measures from household to household. So for example, there will be measures that you are expected to put in place in each environment you teach at, ie handwashing, cleaning instruments, social distancing.

    However, there may be some additions to a risk assessment you will need to add in based on location, individual teaching environments or specific circumstances of your clients. For example, you may need to consider the route you enter a building, whether there is any vulnerable members of that household or ventilation of the room you work in – and this will require an additional assessment.

    4. Insurance

    We are advised by the brokers for our members’ Public Liability Insurance that cover will operate provided members follow government guidelines.

    5. Links to government guidance