Coronavirus Updates

May 26, 2020 UPDATE

Dear Notre Dame Children’s Choir Families and Choristers,

Like many of you, the directors and staff of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir are ready to get back to doing what we love: supporting our community of young singers as they mature musically, spiritually, and socially. We believe that in times of distress and uncertainty the church must invest more into our community, thus, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir will continue to meet and serve the needs of our choristers. We will not go on hiatus or hide until the pandemic is over. In the words of Benjamin Saunders, a close friend of the NDCC and Director of Music for the Diocese of Leeds, UK, “society will measure us by how we fulfill our mission, especially in regard to education, liturgical music, and support of the young, disadvantaged, and vulnerable.”

We have prepared a hybrid model of temporary virtual and limited in-person teaching until we can resume full in-person rehearsals, concerts, liturgies, informances, and festivals. We will keep our same rehearsal schedule throughout the week with reduced rehearsal times and provide live zoom sessions for every singer in our program as well as additional weekly recorded content and activities for home learning.

Zoom Meeting for all Singers and Parents - Thursday, May 28 from 5:30-6:30pm
See Link in NDCC Weekly Newsletter

I invite you to join me on zoom (or by phone) for an All Family and Choristers gathering regarding the Notre Dame Children’s Choir this fall. We wish to hear from our community of singers and families what you would like to see more of during this time and how we can continue to support you. Additionally, we wish to hear any concerns you may have moving forward.

You will find the link to this meeting in the NDCC’s weekly newsletter; note that there is a simple password.

We are guided by the question: “What can we do better virtually than in person?” Many answers abounded over the past weeks: 1.) a focus on music reading (literacy), 2.) listening to each member of our choir sing individually and offering virtual voice lessons 3.) expanding the reach of the NDCC by inviting singers and families to join from outside our immediate region, 4.) sharing more content by video for families of young children to sing at home at their own pace, 5.) greater opportunities for discussion of sacred music lyrics and liturgy, 6.) creating virtual performances to share with our community, and 7.) creating a unique social outlet for singers to support one another during socially distant times. 

While some organizations are resuming their regular operations with great speed, because your children’s safety is our first priority, we have taken these measures out of an abundance of caution. In consultation with the University of Notre Dame, we regularly review these decisions so that we are ready when the time arrives for us to gather in person once again. 

There is concerning information regarding singing and the spread of COVID-19 in the context of schools, churches, and community choral ensembles. As many of you know, Bishop Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne and South Bend has prohibited all singing in liturgies as has the ELCA Lutheran Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod. Additionally, the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, the Presbyterian Church of the United States, the United Methodist Church, and many others, have come to equally strong conclusions. The Centers for Disease Control recently suggested singing in choirs may be a super-spreading event after 82% of a church choir in the state of Washington was infected after a two-hour rehearsal in early March. 

For more information on the risks of singing during a pandemic and the responses of many churches, visit

While we are saddened by this information, it does not spell the end of communal singing. This is temporary and will pass and we are positioning the NDCC to be in a stronger position when we resume in person gatherings.

There is a place for everyone in our choirs and it is our mission to continue to live into the vision even during a pandemic. 

I look forward to hearing from you this Thursday and seeing all our singers and families in the fall.


Mark Doerries


We are working with the University of Notre Dame’s Reopening Task Force as well as the Office of Risk Management and the St. Joseph County Health Department to determine when it is safe to reopen. The entire choral community is faced with this same dilemma and is awaiting the results of several studies investigating the risks associated with singing and athletics. The concern regards the increase in the amount of aerosolized droplets emanating from the mouths of singers and athletes when compared to individuals speaking. Below is the current state of the research.

American Choral Directors Association and National Association of Teachers of Singing


Examples of Coronavirus Spread Via Choirs

  1. Sagit County, Washington Church Choir rehearsal, Of 61 members of a Methodist church choir who rehearsed on March 10, 2020, 52 were infected by the virus.
  2. Amsterdam Gemengd Koor, Of the 130 members of the choir and orchestra performing on March 8, 2020, 103 individuals became infected with the virus including all soloists and the conductor
  3. 50 members of the Berlin Cathedral Choir became ill in March
  4. Similar occurrence in the Voice of Yorkshire, York, UK

Church Responses

In South Bend, Bishop Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has declared, “all singing is suspended until it is determined that it is reasonably safe.”

Similarly, Bishop William Gafkjen of the Lutheran Church (ELCA) Indiana-Kentucky Synod writes, “Singing together, even from a distance, is one of the riskiest behaviors due to the spread of aerosol and droplets that can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air.”


Episcopal Church - Northern Indiana Diocese

Methodist Church:

Wisconsin Council of Churches:
(Includes American Baptist Church of WI, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Armenian Orthodox, Disciples of Christ, COGIC, Church of the Brethren, Episcopal Diocese, ELCA, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Mennonite Church USA, PCUSA, UMC, Reformed Church of America, United Church of Christ, Moravian Church; Official Observers include the Roman Catholic Arch Diocese of Milwaukee, Dioceses of Green Bay and LaCrosse)

“ Cloth face coverings should not be relied upon to be protective in the case of singing.”

Finally, Churches in Germany are opening without choirs and cantors.



NDCC is canceled for the rest of the Spring semester in accordance with CDC recommendations, as all classes at the University of Notre Dame will continue by distance learning through the end of the school year.  The Sacred Music Academy office is now working from home and you may still reach us at:  We will also check office voicemail regularly. LIKE our Facebook page for updates in our posts:



March 11, 2020

Dear NDCC Parents,

President John Jenkins of the University of Notre Dame announced the suspension of all classes at Notre Dame from now until April 13 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and Organ Training Program will SUSPEND ALL REHEARSALS, LESSONS, and PERFORMANCES until APRIL 13. The University will inform us by April 3 whether we may resume rehearsals and performances. We ask for your patience and understanding as we reorganize our schedule during this time.

We are currently in discussion with the University regarding the May 2 Community Festival, recordings in May, and the June Liturgical Choir Camp. We hope to have more information at the beginning of April regarding all these events. 

Should the NDCC resume rehearsals and activities in April, we will institute mandatory hand washing for all singers prior to rehearsal, have hand sanitizer available for all singers, practice an appropriate amount of social distancing, provide individually packaged snacks, and continue to sanitize high-touch areas of the facility.

While child infection rates remain low, we believe caution is warranted. From the Center for Disease Control’s website:

“Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon. However, as with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions.”

While we hope to resume rehearsal on April 14, your children’s health remains our primary concern and if we have doubts about our ability to keep them safe during this time, we will opt to suspend rehearsals until fall 2020. We will provide more information by the first week of April regarding future rehearsals and performances. 

Should you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email. Our staff will remain in the office during this entire time. We will miss all our singers and families, but hope to see them again in April. 


Mark Doerries
Artistic Director of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir

Suze Villano
Administrative Director of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir