We are focused on operating our courses, concerts and events in a responsible way that continues to give our guests opportunities to create enjoyable Benslow Music memories. However we have to manage our activities in a very different way from what we’ve known before.
Our phased reopening will demonstrate a deliberate approach, with limits on course attendance and controlled guest numbers to align with guidance on social distancing. This will inevitably mean that we will not be able to run as many courses as we would like. We’re committed to doing our part and we need our guests to do their part too as we work together to focus on safety. Our policies and procedures are under continuous review and are subject to change as we monitor conditions and receive guidance from health and government authorities.
We are pleased to have acquired Visit England's "We're Good To Go" Industry Standard mark which means that we have followed government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, have a Risk Assessment in place and a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
How does the tier system affect my course at Benslow Music?
Benslow Music is a fully COVID-secure educational venue, and our programme of courses and concerts will continue to run with safety regulations in place. We continue to follow the safety and hygiene measures set out by the Government in its performing arts guidance (see here).
Where a local lockdown is in operation, you should check what restrictions apply in your area by using the Postcode Checker (click here).
The Government’s guidance for England on the new tiered lockdown system, which is in place from 14 October, indicates that “there are exceptions where people from different households can gather...in any setting, including indoors in private homes” and this includes for “work purposes” and for the purposes of “education or training”. This applies in both tier 2 (high) and tier 3 (very high).
Hitchin, Hertfordshire is currently in tier 1 (medium).
How will the music sessions be run?
Courses will take place in our rehearsal rooms at adequate social distancing and there will be limits on course participant numbers. We will leave doors and windows open to improve air circulation.
Is it safe to play the Benslow Music pianos and instruments?
Music stands will be wiped down periodically (or bring your own if preferred) as will piano stools. Special care of our pianos will follow expert guidance. Pianists please wash and sanitise hands carefully before and after playing each time; we recommend you wear a face mask to minimise spread of moisture on to music desk and keys; keys will be cleaned each day and may be wiped by players with a slightly damp (not wet) cloth under supervision. Sanitiser gel will be available in each practice room.
I am a singer or play a woodwind/brass instrument, can I attend?
Yes both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass playing in line with Government guidance (see here).
What is the cleaning regime?
Sanitisation stations will be installed around the Benslow Music campus and house staff will follow a frequent (at least thrice daily) pattern of surface cleaning, including all entrance doors, door handles and push points, light switches, staircase handrails, lift control buttons, water coolers and communal toilets.
How do I check in to my course or B&B booking?
We will allocate arrival time slots (as far as possible) for each guest. Please report to the Main House entrance hall (not to Reception) and use the sanitisation stations to clean your hands before entering. Face masks and gloves are provided should you wish to use them.
Bedroom keys will be sanitised before they are issued and upon their return.
Arrival tea/coffee and biscuits are available in guest bedrooms.
Will my temperature be checked on arrival?
To be safely admitted onto our campus, employees and guests will be asked to participate in a temperature check using a non-touch thermometer. These non-invasive temperature checks are being applied as a condition of entry and added reassurance for our guests.
Anyone who is displaying a temperature above 37.8 degrees Celsius (which is considered a fever) will unfortunately not be allowed to enter to help ensure the safety of our staff and guests. In this event we will happily transfer your payment to a future course free of charge or issue a full refund in Benslow Music Vouchers, which you can use towards a future course, concert, shop purchases and Membership subscriptions. We do not expect anyone to be penalised for doing the right thing.
Guests with certain health conditions and disabilities related to higher bodily temperatures should speak to our bookings team to ensure we can provide the correct assistance on an individual basis.
Those displaying symptoms of COVID-19 within 2 weeks of their arrival date are requested not to visit Benslow Music.
Staff and stewards will have their temperature checked at the start of their working shift. Concert audience members will not be checked.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
In line with Government guidance (see here), guests to Benslow Music are required to wear face coverings in indoor public/communal spaces, in areas where social distancing may prove difficult to maintain and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You may remove your face covering to eat and drink at your dining room table, and to play music in our teaching rooms and rehearsal spaces, where social distancing measures already mean the risks are lower, and where face coverings can inhibit learning.
Face masks and gloves are provided at our sanitisation points across our campus. Please bring with you any additional PPE and hand sanitiser that you feel you need (for example, if you have any skin allergies or as extra personal protection).
We recognise that some guests and staff will be exempt from wearing face coverings so it is appropriate that we encourage people to wear them but we will not be policing this guidance.
Will my bedroom be serviced during my stay?
We will not service your bedroom during your stay, however on request we are happy to change towels and replenish consumable items. No more than three standard bedrooms will share a bathroom and we have implemented additional measures consistent with Government guidelines to ensure shared toilet and shower facilities are cleaned at least twice daily.
What’s going to happen at meal times?
You will have a pre-allocated dining room seat for the duration of the course set to allow for adequate social distancing (no more than 4 guests to a table). Staff will serve all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) at your table wearing a face mask and gloves. Our usual etiquette of clearing plates between courses will not be observed, in order to reduce chance of cross contamination. Instead all courses will be served. Used crockery and cutlery will be cleared by house staff after guests have left the dining room.
What’s going to happen at break times?
A member of staff will pour and serve your drinks and cakes as required at your allocated dining room seat. A one way system will be in operation in the Main House and Waldeck building to ensure social distancing.
Will the bar be open?
Yes staff will be serving you wearing face masks and gloves at your allocated dining room seat. Drink orders will be put on a tab to be settled up on your departure using contactless credit or debit card. We discourage use of cash and we would like you to help us keep any direct contact to a minimum. The bar will close at 10pm.
Is the library open and how do I borrow music?
Yes our library is open and available for use by Members and residential course participants at Benslow Music, however, there will be a reduced volunteer presence. Rules for borrowing and Members take-home loans are unchanged (see here).
We ask that one person is admitted into the library at a time and please respect social distancing. Please wash and sanitise hands both before and after entry to the library and handling music. Disposable gloves (if desired) and sanitiser are available.
Blue library returns boxes are cleared once a week after course departure to allow a fallow period of at least 72 hours before items are returned to shelves.
I feel unwell prior to my stay. What should I do?
In the 2 weeks prior to your stay with us, should you feel unwell or develop symptoms of COVID-19, please do not travel to Benslow Music.
I feel unwell during my stay. What should I do?
Should you feel unwell or develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your stay, you should self-isolate in your bedroom and contact our Duty Manager on +44 (0)1462 429205. Put on a face mask and gloves if you have them. We will ask for contact details of your doctor and family/friends who will be asked to collect you so that you can return home safely.
When will I be notified whether my course will be going ahead or not?
We will notify all participants whether their course will run or be cancelled by email between 4-5 weeks before the start of their course. Please wait for us to contact you directly to confirm and avoid contacting us to enquire about courses later in the year. Our small team are currently dealing with a high volume of correspondence and decisions will be made on the viability of courses on a rolling weekly basis. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please visit www.benslowmusic.org/courses for our latest list of residential, day and online courses.
We will refund fees paid for all events cancelled and are honouring the cancellation terms in our tutor contracts.
My course hasn’t been cancelled but I do not want to / am unable to attend because of COVID-19. What will happen to my payment?
If you decide not to attend due to COVID-19 or if you are quarantined by a local/area lockdown as instructed by government, we will happily transfer your payment to a future course free of charge or issue a full refund in Benslow Music Vouchers, which you can use towards a future course, concert, shop purchases and Membership subscriptions.
Local lockdown restrictions have been put in place by Government in my area, what should I do?
Please contact us if you live in any affected local areas as regrettably you may not be able to attend your course. The latest information on affected local areas and the restrictions is available here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus. If you are unable to attend your course due to local lockdown restrictions, we will happily transfer your payment to a future course free of charge or issue a full refund in Benslow Music Vouchers, which you can use towards a future course, concert, shop purchases and Membership subscriptions.
When will I be able to book for courses in 2021?
The current crisis has unfortunately delayed the release of next year's music programme and we will not be producing and distributing a printed brochure.
Courses in the first quarter of 2021 (January to March) have been added to the course listings page on our website (click here). Bookings for Members for these courses will open at 9am on Monday 12 October 2020 and for Non-Members at 9am on Monday 9 November 2020.
Telephones will open from 9am on the days listed and once all these bookings have been made, the team will then process postal and email applications. Please note online applications can be made through our website from Monday 9 November 2020 when Non-Member bookings open. As the phone lines are so busy on the days booking opens we regret that we cannot process payments immediately, but instead we will reserve you a place and send you details of how to confirm with payment by email later that day.
For details on how to become a Member to take advantage of early booking, see here.
What is Benslow Music doing to keep us COVID-safe at concerts?
The key changes in coming to concerts at Benslow Music include: reduced capacity in our Peter Morrison Hall to ensure we maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres; outdoor performances in our beautiful gardens; live-streamed performances; shorter performances with no interval; audience members will need to wear face-coverings (unless they are exempt as per the Government’s guidelines); no printed programmes; clear signs and helpful staff to make your visit straightforward; regular and thorough cleaning, with hand sanitiser for you.
We have reduced the capacity of our Peter Morrison Hall and outdoor performance spaces to ensure we maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres.
Performers will be socially distant from each other, and from the audience, following Government guidelines.
If you or someone you know has experienced any of the symptoms of COVID-19 in the 2 weeks prior to the concert you should self-isolate and not come to Benslow Music. Please email email@example.com to transfer your tickets to a future event free of charge or request a full refund in Benslow Music Vouchers, which you can use towards a future course, concert, shop purchases and Membership subscriptions.
We will clean the Peter Morrison Hall and its seating between performances.
Audiences, staff and stewards must wear face coverings inside our buildings and throughout the concert. Please bring your own mask to cover your mouth and nose.
Staff and stewards will have their temperature checked at the start of their working shift. Concert audience members will not be checked.
We will follow our usual e-ticket systems so audiences should bring print at home tickets (either printed out or on mobile a device) or evidence of their ticket purchases for entry.
We will not produce a printed programme, but the performance will be introduced from the stage.
Some indoor performances will be an hour or less, with no interval.
Toilets in the Waldeck building and Main House will be open and available before and after concerts. Hand sanitiser will be placed at key locations and staff will be on hand to guide and answer questions.
Arriving at Benslow Music:
There is amble of car parking facilities on site, including spaces for blue badge holders. The Peter Morrison Hall will be open from 30 minutes before the start of the performance. Please follow the one way system to make your way there. Staff and signs will help you find your way around. Audience members should join the queue and will be led into the concert halls in safe groups.
During the concert:
We will be using a one way system to enter and exit the hall. Entry will be via the Peter Morrison Hall foyer and exit will be through the fire exit leading to the gardens. All fire exits will remain accessible in case of an emergency. We will leave the concert hall doors open with the windows open to improve air circulation. If there is an interval, our bar and toilets will be available. At the end of the performance please stay in your seats until asked to leave by a member of staff.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the contact form on the right hand side of this page if you have any further questions. We look forward to welcoming you back to the “Benslow Bubble”.
Updated 09.10 on 16 October 2020