Returning to Band and Orchestra Classes After COVID-19

When it comes to activities that make children feel safe, understood, and challenged, few can match the magic of music. But, like so much else, the Covid-19 pandemic has made accessing music a major challenge for the countless students who are currently enrolled in band and orchestra classes across America. According to a recent article published in the Washington Post, the loss of music education classes in schools has been “devastating for students who rely on music classes to get them through the school day.” 

Luckily, school officials around the nation are hard at work creating plans to bring music students back to band and orchestra classes in a safe manner. The good news is that recent studies show that a safe return to band and orchestra classes for your child might happen sooner than you’d expect. 

Prioritizing music in the age of Covid-19

To some, talking about music’s importance during such a challenging and uncertain time might seem distracting and unhelpful. But experiencing a crisis as deeply impactful as this one is causing many to think about the things in life that are most important to them––family, friends, and passions. For a countless number of people around the world, life would be less meaningful and special without pursuing music. But while music improves the lives of virtually everyone in some way, kids who learn an instrument, take private lessons, or are enrolled in band or orchestra classes are proven to receive a host of powerful cognitive, social, and creative benefits. So while planning and prioritizing for how and when your child will get to show up in person to their band or orchestra class again is a little extra work for you during a stressful time, it’s worth it because it’s something every music student needs in their life right now.

What recent studies have to say about playing instruments and safety during Covid-19

With experts warning that the novel coronavirus spreads through droplets in the air, many parents of music students worry that sending their kids to music class will increase their risk of transmission. However, a recent study conducted by the world famous Vienna Philharmonic concluded that musicians aren’t at a higher risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 when they play their instruments. The study required musicians to lodge devices in their nasal cavities so that their breathing patterns could become visible. A recent statement issued by the Army Band and West Point reinforces the findings further, saying “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.” While gatherings of any size pose an inherent risk during the pandemic, the current science shows that playing instruments doesn’t increase the chances of children contracting or transmitting the novel coronavirus. Wind instruments don’t spread a player’s breath more than talking or breathing does because, by design, they store and disperse air in a contained way to produce tones. This is good news for parents who are eager to get kids back in a healthy and safe musical routine with band and orchestra classes. 

Safety tips for music students 

  • It’s crucial that your child stays home from school if they feel sick. 
  • Kids shouldn’t touch other students’ instruments, cases, or mouthpieces. They also shouldn’t share pencils, paper, and materials like valve oil and rosin.
  • Your child should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they take their instrument out of their case and again at the end of class. 
  • Music students should thoroughly clean the neck and mouthpiece of their instrument according to NAFME’s guidelines
  • Any instruments, materials, or equipment your child uses from the school should be thoroughly sanitized before each use. 

MORE ABOUT MUSIC & ARTS

Music & Arts is here to help parents, educators, and musicians navigate the challenges of pursuing music during the pandemic. From fun and inspirational music lessons to expert guidance, repairs, and a vast selection of instruments, accessories, and sheet music, we’re here to help you, your students, and your loved ones connect with music during this difficult time. 

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6 Comments
  1. Please cite the studies you mention. I am interested in the journal, methodology, internal validity, external validity and the scholarship of the writers.

  2. What recent studies? Show us the proof. Music and Arts is dreaming if they think band/music is one of the priorities for school admins. Let us know when you wake up from your dream

  3. Saying that playing an instrument does not increase a child’s risk of catching covid more than talking is dangerously misleading, because talking is one of the ways that covid spreads. Additionally, the article does not address the other risk factors that support covid’s spread, such as having large numbers of people inside poorly ventilated spaces–a common characteristic of underfunded and old American schools. The CDC says on it’s website that covid is spread through aerosols, and aerosol can hand suspended in the air–in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces–for hours. If schools can’t open safely–due to crowding and poor ventilation, they certainly can’t have band classes safely.

    This article is at best naive and uninformed, at worst disingenuous and misleading. Please remove it from your postings.

  4. Orchestra was the highlight of my daughter’s day, every day. To have that taken away during quarantine was crushing. Our kids need to get back to school and we should be supportive and helpful in finding a way forward, not criticizing and negative, there is enough of that in this world. Thank you Music & Arts!

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