If you’re like many band directors around the country with in-person band, you’ve been tasked with outfitting your bands with the proper protection to keep everyone playing safe. Our purpose here is to share our experience and insights so that you can choose the best products to suit your circumstances.
Let’s start with masks.
Masks are made from either double-layer nylon or high-denier single-layer nylon. There are two types: Vertical split and Horizontal split masks.
Vertical-split masks open side to side and offer the tightest fit around the mouthpiece or reed. For this reason they are ideal for brass players of any age and reed-instrument players in the upper grades.
Horizontal-split masks open top and bottom, parallel to your mouth. Ours are gaiter style with fabric surrounding the neck and with a single tie around the head. They are ideal for reed-instrument players in the younger grades as the looser fit reduces any risk of reed damage.
Flute masks: see below
Bell covers on woodwinds deter between 64% and 89% of aerosol omissions on woodwinds and between 89% and 95% on brass instruments. Our covers are made of double-layer black nylon. Note: covers on woodwind bells may hinder articulation of the lowest note.
Sizing and Measuring
All woodwind, trumpet and trombone bell cover sizes are standardized.
Horn and low brass bells are not uniform and should be measured for an appropriate fit. Measure at the widest point to the nearest ¼ inch.
**It is important to obtain a tight fit because a saggy bell cover can cause articulation issues**
What about hand access for French horns?
Many directors opt to have players hold the bell at the rim. However, a medium slit may be cut in the cover to accommodate the player’s hand. The edges of the cut nylon will not fray.
What about “puppy pads” for brass players to empty their waterkeys?
Save your money. Use a handkerchief.
Flutes require more consideration because air is blown across the headjoint and not directly into the instrument. Players can use flute shields, flute masks, or a combination of both at the head joint. A foot cover is recommended by the most recent ICPAA study. Additionally, a woodwind bag can be used for maximum protection.
Small shields (3.5”x”6.5″, oval) can be used alone or in conjunction with a veil-style flute mask. They are simple to install and ideal for players of any age. When used with a mask, air escapes downward into the lap or chest of the player. If you are ordering for piccolos, you’ll need to distinguish between metal head, plastic/wood head, or silver cork-style (like Yamaha YPC32)
The edges of the cut nylon will not fray.
Large shields (4” x 11″, rectangular) cannot be used in conjunction with masks and are therefore ideal where ample physical distancing is available. They require a little more skill to assemble so we recommend them for high school players or older.
Flute masks come in two basic types: veil-style and side-entry.
Veil-style: Nylon-spandex gaiters (neck cuff) with a single tie for the back of the head. When used in conjunction with the small windshield, air escapes downward into the lap or chest of the player (pictured). To save on cost, homemade veils can be made from a piece of high-denier cloth and string ties.
Side entry: The headjoint enters through a hole in the side of the mask. Our current version uses ear loops. They cannot be used in conjunction with a flute shield.
Flute foot cover: Since there is no flare at the end of a flute, covers require an elastic or tie closure at the end. Note: covers on the end/bells of woodwinds may hinder articulation of the lowest note.
Woodwind bags offer the most protection from droplets and aerosols. On small woodwinds, every key is covered, not just the bell. On saxes and bass clarinets they cover all but the octave keys. They are hand or machine-washable.
Clarinet/Oboe/Flute – Made of cotton-canvas duck. Drawstring top closure and elastic hand-holes.
Saxes – Made from black nylon-spandex. Covers all but the octave key. Includes openings for hands and neck strap. Extra openings can be cut for lyres as fabric will not fray.
Bass clarinet – Made from black nylon-spandex. Covers all but the octave key. Zippered at the bottom or easy management of one or two-piece instruments.
Lastly, ORDER EARLY! Inventories can fluctuate quickly as demand surges and wanes.