Easing of lockdown restrictions

Below we have provided guidance on private music teaching during COVID-19 in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This guidance does not amount to a recommendation or instruction by the ISM to resume face-to-face teaching. These are matters for members to decide, and there may be many individual factors which need to be considered before a decision is made. We have tried to secure greater clarity from the UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments on these issues, and our guidance is framed by the responses we have received about how to apply government guidance.

Be aware some areas of the UK will have localised restrictions. Make sure you check the details on your government and local council pages.

You must undertake a risk assessment before you recommence face-to-face teaching. If you are returning to teaching in a school, you should ask the school what steps it has taken to assess the risks and to see its risk assessment.


Last updated: 05 January 2021

Following the government announcement of a new lockdown period from 5 January, you can find out what we know so far on our news story.

Contact tracing and app

As part of continuing efforts to manage COVID-19 through contact tracing, new legal regulations in England require many businesses to maintain records of their customers. In addition, these businesses are required to have a QR code for display so people with the NHS Test and Trace app can scan it if they wish. The process is simple (it takes no more than a couple of minutes).

Not all types of device can use the QR code, so you must make sure you are keeping good records of pupils, lessons, and timetables, including registers for ensembles and choirs, in another format, should you be contacted as part of the track and trace process. Your usual administration of lessons should provide the requisite information about students and the times and dates of their attendance for lessons.

Northern Ireland

Updated: 27 November 2020

Continuing restrictions are in force until Friday 11 December. However, the latest guidance states under the heading ‘Work and services carried out in private homes’ that music lessons and private tutoring '…are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact.'

Contact tracing and app

The StopCOVID app in Northern Ireland uses proximity based technology and operates in parallel with the Contact Tracing Service (CTS). You can find a full set of FAQs on the CTS on the Northern Ireland Executive website. It states ‘In the vast majority of cases, the positive case will have a landline, mobile or email address for their close contacts.’ As such, we encourage that you make sure your records and registers up to date to aid the process if required.


Updated: 10 December 2020

Scotland has introduced a five-level system of measures to combat COVID-19 with effect from 2 November, with announcements beforehand setting out what level will apply to each part of the country. The levels (0 to 4) are summarised in this document.

The Scottish Government has amended its guidance on private tuition in the latest guidance for organised activities for children – please see under the heading ‘Private Tuition’ under the Drama and Music section.

Private teaching can take place in private homes (the teacher’s and the pupil’s) under the following circumstances

  • It can take place in people’s homes (the teacher’s and the pupil’s), with relevant mitigations, in levels 0-3.
  • Tutors should carry out their own appropriate risk assessments and should ensure appropriate hygiene measures, physical distancing and use of face coverings, are in place.
  • Where your work place is also your own home, or another setting, these activities should be considered referring to COVID-19 guidance on small and micro businesses.


    Updated: 10 November 2020

    Following the firebreak, the Welsh government has updated their guidance Rehearsing, performing and taking part in the performing arts: guidance for a phased return on 9 November. At section 3.22, the guidance contains a dedicated section on teaching music. This suggests that face-to-face private tuition can be undertaken from your own home, students’ homes and other venues, subject to following guidance around health and safety measures and undertaking risk assessments. If you are a member, you can access our sample risk assessment.

    Musicians should be following the steps suggested in the section on playing music (excluding singing, wind and brass). Additionally, please note that the advice still says that 'singing and playing wind and brass instruments, especially in groups, is considered a higher risk activity.' If you are working in these areas, make sure you read the suggested steps and mitigations in full.

    Contact tracing and app

    The use of the NHS app in Wales is not compulsory, but is encouraged. Some types of businesses are compelled by law to keep customers details for 21 days. Although music tuition is not one of the stated ‘close contact’ businesses, it is advisable to make sure you maintain good records of your pupils and registers of music ensemble attendees. Your usual administration for these purposes should suffice. You can read more about the requirements for contact tracing in Wales in the Welsh Government website and also get a QR code poster.

    Further information

    Risk assessments

    There is considerable emphasis on assessing and controlling risks in guidance of all four nations. It is therefore essential that you undertake a risk assessment if you are resuming face-to-face private teaching. Please see our guidance about health and safety for private music teachers and preparing a risk assessment. ISM members can download a sample risk assessment from this advice page to help get started. The ISM Trust also has a webinar accessible to all on how to undertake a risk assessment.

    Individual legal advice

    If you are an ISM member, you can seek advice from our legal team on your personal situation by contacting [email protected].


    ISM members' Public Liability Insurance (PLI), renewable from 1 August 2020, has no special clauses in relation to COVID-19 and cover will operate normally.

    We are advised by our broker that in order to reject a claim for cover from a member, the insurer would have to prove that a member deliberately failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent spread of the disease to other people. The best way to show that you have taken all reasonable steps, in the view of our broker, is to follow the government guidance on safe working, which will include undertaking a thorough risk assessment. Please see our health and safety information for guidance.

    Online teaching

    We have produced the following guidance on online teaching:


    ISM members can use the ISM template contract for private music tuition.

    If the pupil is ill, check the terms of the contract around missed lessons. If you are using the ISM contract you are entitled to charge for the lesson if less than 48 hours notice is given to you, but there is provision in the contract for you to exercise discretion in exceptional circumstances. These are not defined, which leaves you open to judge the most appropriate course of action.

    The same 48 hours notice (and discretionary option) applies if pupils wish to cancel online lessons for any reason. Teachers using the ISM template contract who wish to cancel lessons will need to offer an alternative date or refund the lesson.

    Next steps

    We will update members as new information emerges. In the meantime, please see our health and safety and risk assessment guidance.