OK, so I need to say right off the bat that I have no intention of actually answering this question! I am certainly not qualified. This past year (plus change) has seen it become ok for us all to express ‘opinions’ on science, and for us to have the choice to either agree or disagree, sometimes depending on our political leanings. This confusion has been confusing!
There have been a number of studies (such as this one from Brass Bands England) that support the science-based hypotheses that like face-mask wearing, a cloth covering over the bell of your horn helps to reduce the risk of harmful airborne droplets being dispersed. The use of bell covers, wiping down surfaces such as music stands with alcohol wipes, the regular washing of hands, social distancing and safe disposal of water from the instruments all help reduce risk, without removing it completely of course.
One thing that all musicians agree on is that kids need to be making music again. And a huge part of this is giving each other the confidence that we are all doing everything that can ‘reasonably’ be done to protect each other at the same time. So instead of “do they help?”, the question that we should really be asking ourselves is “are we really prepared to not take every possible step to protect each other?”. And this seems particularly pertinent at a time where we had been starting to feel more relaxed about the future after the early success of the vaccination roll-outs, but are becoming increasingly aware of new variants. It is likely that we will need to approach music in groups with some caution for some time to come.
So now that we have taken the obstacle of answering my initial question out of the equation, what is left to object to?
Sound quality? Well there is a slight change. The sound takes on a slightly softened edge, and there is a slight stuffiness up top. But it is only a small difference and pretty much imperceptible to your school bander.
Cost? Fair enough, everyone has suffered a financial impact to varying degrees over this past 15 months, and what band or school is going to relish the prospect of kitting out a full band with more accessories?
Well there is a solution at hand! Alliance Brass have developed a great quality bell cover that they want to make accessible to schools, community bands and professional groups at rock bottom prices. They retail at just £3.07 each. Here is what the maker has to say:
Alliance has teamed up with a leading Northern textile company to produce stretchable bell covers that reduce the risk of spreading harmful airborne droplets and aerosols produced by brass instruments. The covers are very easy to fit and make hardly any perceptible difference to the sound of the instrument. The player might notice a very slight difference in response in the high register, but the sound remains true from low to high.
This product is aimed at school ensembles, amateur bands and professional brass sections. The safest way to play brass music is outside with the recommended distance between players of 2.00m whilst not facing or playing into another player. If playing indoors with the minimum distance (2m) between players, bell covers can reduce the spread of germs and viruses greatly. Remember that venting water keys can spread germs too, so be careful to have a cloth or some paper to catch any water from the instrument, and to dispose of any paper safely.
Our partners making the bell covers are a traditional family-owned Manchester-based business who started spinning and weaving cotton in the nineteenth century. Last year they were busy making PPE for the NHS. We have designed this range of bell covers which are produced in Greater Manchester using their skills developed in making PPE. We are proud to work with another successful British firm.
Please click here to view or purchase this product.
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