Should My Child Go Back to Band Class? - Nottelmann Music Company
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Should My Child Go Back to Band Class?

Should My Child Go Back to Band Class?

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While there are still many unknowns about the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, one thing is for certain: the importance of music in our schools and the impact it has on student’s lives has not changed.

Educators and administrators across the country are working tirelessly to strategize ways to return to school safely. However, many of the current studies are focused on a return to the traditional academic classroom setting.

In order to ease some of your concerns and hopefully provide some peace-of-mind, we’re covering the latest research and information about returning to the instrumental music classroom in today’s blog!

Why music?

Music offers a platform for students to learn skills necessary to be successful later in life: creative problem solving, self expression, and an awareness of those around us. These lessons will be even more vital as we return to life after COVID-19 and look to offset the effects of quarantine.

Additionally, we know students enrolled in music experience substantial cognitive benefits compared to their non-music peers. Because of this, students enrolled in music score higher on standardized tests, learn a foreign language faster, and can more quickly master complex math concepts. Students are also less likely to be truant, less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol, more likely to graduate on time, and more likely to go on to college. Simply put, we need music now more than ever.

Is it safe for my child to return to playing their instrument in school?

Band Classes

While academic studies are presently underway at Colorado State University, a recent study conducted by the Vienna Philharmonic revealed “when playing an instrument they (the musicians) faced no additional risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus when performing” and that “we should not expect air exhaled by artists to reach more than 80 centimeters (2.6 feet) distance”. Additionally, the United States Army Band and West Point states “there is agreement between all of the research collected, that wind instrument playing seems to present about the same risk as normal breathing and talking.”

As many educators and musicians can attest, although the musician is blowing air into the instrument, the design of the instrument is such that the air is slowed down to produce a tone, and in doing so, the instrument retains the moisture and aerosols associated with the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, frequently disinfecting the musical instruments in the band or orchestra program, ensuring students properly maintain their own equipment, and closely following the CDC’s guidelines recommended for social distancing will allow educators to continue offering a quality music education to students while proactively preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Orchestra Classes

Orchestra instruments offer no additional risk of contributing to the spread of COVID-19. Performing on these instruments does not involve breathing into the instrument to create a tone and students are able to wear masks when playing. Additionally, because these instruments are sealed with a lacquer or varnish, the exterior surfaces of these instruments are non-porous and can be cleaned similar to other surfaces. Encouraging students not to share classroom supplies, implementing a structured cleaning regimen, following the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing, and utilizing appropriate cleaning solutions that are both effective and safe for the instrument’s finish, will play an active role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the orchestra classroom.

What can my child do to help keep themselves and their classmates safe?

Here are some guidelines that all music students can follow to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Prior to taking their instruments out of the case and again at the conclusion of class, students should wash or disinfect their hands using soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer.
  • Students should refrain from sharing classroom materials, such as valve oils, pencils, instruments or other supplies.
  • Students should not touch or move other students’ instruments, mouthpiece, or case.
  • Students should spray their mouthpiece with Steri-Spray at the conclusion of each practice rehearsal or performance, prior to placing the instrument in the case. (NOTE: The active ingredient in Steri-Spray is quaternary ammonium, as confirmed by the manufacturer. This active ingredient is listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of approved COVID-19 disinfectants.)
  • Students should provide their own supplies as they are able. When this is not feasible, shared equipment such as mallets, cymbals, or other percussion equipment should be disinfected prior to another student using the same piece of equipment.
  • Students should remain at home when feeling sick.
  • Students should clean the instrument, neck, and mouthpiece as recommended by NAFME’s Instrument Cleaning Guidelines.
  • Percussion and other keyboard instruments present fewer hygienic issues due to the way that they’re constructed. Based on recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the best way that these students can maintain a healthy environment is by simply washing their hands before and after use for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Disinfecting wipes may be used on bell kits, metal hardware, rubber mallets, and sticks. Be mindful of any residue that may be left behind. For drum heads, only use non-astringent wipes, to avoid damaging the head.

As a band or orchestra parent, I’m sure you’re aware that each instrument is uniquely comprised of a variety of materials, which help to create its characteristic sound and tone quality. Each instrument requires specific protocols for cleaning, which should be completed before beginning the actual sanitizing process.

Check out our videos about instrument care and cleaning.