Advice from Barnes & Mullins and Key Woodwind Reed Manufacturers about hygiene and cleaning to mitigate infection

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As music stores start to reopen and as musicians tentatively move toward playing together again, thoughts of what precautions to take are at the forefront of many of our minds. MIA Member Barnes & Mullins have collated some useful tips for music stores from three companies at the sharp end of the woodwind world that will help you to consider woodwind hygiene and cleaning…

Three companies at the sharp end of the woodwind world: Vandoren, Légère and Aulos have issued some useful tips for musicians and music stores.

Vandoren

Vandoren have issued this video – click here – which shows not only what safety precautions are being taken in their French workshops, but also offers common-sense advice as to how to protect yourself.

Firstly, they advise: Do not let anyone else play your instrument and do not let anyone else touch your mouthpiece, ligature, or reeds.

They also answer the question of ‘is it possible to contract the virus from new Vandoren reeds?’.

Reassurance is provided by stating that “There is no physical handling of the reeds during the production process. The only handling comes from quality control and performance testing operations, and those reeds used for these purposes are systematically destroyed by being burned as fuel for their boiler.”

With items such as mouthpieces, where the finishing processes are by hand, the video explains the sanitary measures that Vandoren have in place to avoid any contamination. Hand sanitising, the compulsory wearing of masks and socially distanced production stations all play their part, plus the understanding that any viral load is diminished to a negligible level after 72 hours. As any manufactured product will take several weeks to get from workshop to distributor to store, natural degradation of contaminant will render the item safe.

Another company at the forefront of woodwind technology is the French-Canadian reed manufacturer, Légère.

Légère uses food-grade polypropylene to make both single and double reeds. Polypropylene is a common, non-toxic polymer with applications in food containers, packaging, and many other products. Polypropylene does not have to be preconditioned before playing and does not absorb any water. It is non-porous and can be easily sanitised with warm water and a mild detergent.

The general advice about not sharing instruments or mouthpieces should be obvious, but it is reassuring to know that if required, your Légère reed can be simply washed in water and detergent to ensure a microbially-safe playing session.

Preventing infectious diseases through analysis – from Aulos, Japan.

 Recorders can sometimes be overlooked as simply an early-learning instrument, but anyone who has had dealings with Japanese recorder manufacturer Aulos will know differently.

The care and detail with which they handle the building and designing of their recorders is second to none. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they have led the way in recent research into the prevention of infectious diseases when performing with a recorder.

Using very specialised industrial cameras, Aulos technicians set about analysing what comes out of a recorder when it is blown. The cameras could detect items sized at only a few microns (1/1000th of a millimetre).

With technical videos published on their website here – http://www.aulos.jp/en/topics/topics_20200527.html – Aulos conducted various experiments in which they observed dispersal of water droplets when the instruments were played in different ways and under varying circumstances. The droplet dispersal pattern was also contrasted with what is expelled from the mouth of a singer.

In all their experiments, Aulos found that there were almost no water droplet splashes visible, other than where there was a gap between the mouth and the recorder. The inference of these findings must be therefore that there is minimal direct risk of playing recorder to those nearby.

From these experiments, Aulos have issued a few advice guidelines that will be useful to music stores, musicians, and teachers.

  • When playing the recorder, ensure that your lips create a good seal. Any leakage of saliva will come from the edge of the mouth.
  • Students should take care not to swing the recorder around, as any residual moisture can be released into the surrounding area.
  • After playing, it is advised to check for any water leakage onto the floor and if found, wipe with disposable towel and disinfect the affected area of floor.
  • Have a mask ready to wear the moment that the recorder is removed from the mouth.

These steps and others are laid out in more detail here: www.aulos.jp/en/topics/pdf/AULOS_PerformanceManual.pdf

Naturally, it is unwise to share recorders – or any instrument – at the moment, but Aulos has also issued advice on the proper cleaning of recorders with a focus on preventing infectious diseases.

The detailed guide – which is applicable to all brands of recorder – can be found and printed here: www.aulos.jp/en/topics/pdf/AULOS_MaintenanceManual.pdf

Vandoren, Legere and Aulos products are available in the UK and Ireland from Barnes & Mullins Ltd. www.bandm.co.uk

As you start to re-open the doors to your store, and as we all navigate our way through these unknown waters, please be assured that Barnes & Mullins are here for you and your business.

Prices of Thomastik Strings are currently reduced by 12.5% – which is a remarkable deal on some essential consumable items. Find out more here

Likewise, we have maintained our ‘lockdown’ shipping rates so that you can order smaller quantities more frequently without financial penalties – AND you can still Drop-Ship more affordably too! Find out more here

Please contact us in the event of any issue or concern, you can call our sales office on 01691 652449 or manage your account and order online at www.bandm.co.uk.