What we’ve learned about Covid-19
and playing Musical Instruments

Woman Disinfecting Counter

Stop obsessing about surface disinfection
 

In an April article published on our website titled “Is playing an instrument safe” we cautioned about the risk of Covid-19 transmission from the surfaces of inanimate objects such as violins, drumsticks or instrument cases and explained our rigorous surface disinfection process. Our advice and process was informed by widely published studies that concluded SARS-CoV-2 could linger on various surfaces for days under laboratory conditions.  At the time, we urged users to regularly disinfect the surfaces of their musical instruments at home.

New and continuing research has evolved the greater understanding of how Covid-19 is spread prompting Emanuel Goldman, a virologist at Rutgers University to state the following opinion published in July by The Lancet. “A clinically significant risk of sever acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission by fomites (inanimate surfaces or objects) has been assumed on the basis of studies that have little resemblance to real-life scenarios”.

In September, Israeli researchers were stymied in their attempt to culture real world samples of the virus from highly contaminated hospital surfaces. Their findings, published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, concluded “Despite prolonged viability of SARS-CoV-2 under laboratory-controlled conditions, uncultivable viral contamination of inanimate surfaces might suggest low feasibility for indirect fomite transmission”. Most public health officials now downplay the potential of surface transmission including the CDC which stated in October that “spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that Covid-19 is spread”.

As a result, we no longer believe it helpful to continuously wipe down the exterior surfaces of personal musical instruments with disinfecting wipes, alcohol or other harsh cleaners.


 
 

Boy blowing into Clarinet

Cleaning and sanitizing shared instruments
and mouthpieces is still important


In the same April article, we also described the greater risk of potential viral transmission from wind instrument parts that are in direct contact with mucous membranes- wind instrument mouthpieces and flute head joints- and the elevated risk of cross contamination from saliva inside the mouthpieces and instruments of shared wind instruments. We urged musicians to regularly clean their mouthpieces and strongly advised against sharing wind instruments that had not been properly sanitized between players. We still stand by that guidance today and our sanitization process between users of rental instruments remains unchanged. Individuals and schools can have instruments sanitized to the same standards as our rental fleet upon request.

What about wind instrument aerosol production and mitigation?

This summer, the focus of the scientific community and public health officials shifted to person to person respiratory transmission as the primary means by which Covid-19 spreads. At the same time, reports from the University of Colorado and University of Maryland linked playing wind instruments to aerosol production similar to speaking or singing.


 

Trombone with Bell Cover

To help performance groups safely conduct in person rehearsals, we have partnered with musicians and instrument technicians to design and produce a bell cover that reduces the transmission of aerosols while playing instruments like trumpets and clarinets without materially altering playability. To more fully protect others, we also offer a face mask specially designed for use while playing a wind instrument.

Our collective understanding of this novel coronavirus continues to evolve and as it does, we will continue to apply that knowledge to deliver products and services that help more safely enable musicians to experience the joys of music making.

NEMC proudly represents these and other fine brands:Please note that as part of our ongoing commitment to these companies, not all brands are available at each of our independently owned dealer rental locations.
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