Face masks for wind instruments and other inventions
This weekend I participated with the Behotsik orchestra, in the premiere of the zarzuela “Vientos del Norte”. It saddened me that the singers got on stage with the FFP2 masks. Expressiveness is complicated …
So, I have started to investigate safe distances to rehearse with singers, wind musicians, orchestras and bands… I have found very curious ideas. I share them with you right now!
In-person band students rehearsal. Source: Google Images.
The science behind the wind
Before we start, we are going to put on our scientist glasses. We are not going to talk about windmills , but about wind instruments. Because limiting the dispersion of droplets and aerosols (how far and in which direction they travel) is the key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Studying the safety distance for in-person rehearsals
A study conducted by the Soria band asks to reconsider the currently established safety distance (1.5m-2m) for wind musicians. It turns out that expiratory flows are lower than previously thought, and they are more in line with laminar flow, and not a cloud.
This is because wind players need to sustain the sound for as long as possible.
In addition, the length of the instrument tubes causes the air outlet to be less, since part of the air remains in the instrument (dead space), and exits through various holes (the keys), in addition to the bell.
This same study pays attention to each instrument, which has its peculiarities in terms of air dispersion.
Factors influencing the air dispersion of wind instruments
- Clarinet: all the air that comes out of the mouth is channeled into the instrument. The tube is full of holes.
- Saxophone: all the air that comes out of the mouth is channeled into the instrument.
- Flute / Piccolo: not all the air is channeled, as it passes through the instrument, several drops of air are dispersed outside.
- Instruments with neck: bassoon, bass clarinet: the curve of the neck makes it impossible for air to flow to the bell, much more than in the case of the flute, for example.
- Tuba: its tube is very different from the rest, due to its dimensions (length, shape).
- Trombone: there is no hole from the mouthpiece to the bell.
Things get complicated. Therefore, these musicians have thought of very ingenious ideas to be able to continue rehearsing together: