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Should My Child Go Back to Orchestra?

Is It Safe For My Child To Go Back To Orchestra?

At this point, there are still many unanswered questions about the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. However, one thing is for certain: the importance of music in our schools and the impact it has on student’s lives is vital.

Band and orchestra directors, researchers, and administrators throughout the US are working tirelessly to strategize ways to return to school safely. However, much of the current research in progress is focused on a return to the traditional classroom setting.

In order to ease some of your concerns and hopefully provide some peace-of-mind, we’ve summarized the latest research and information about returning to the orchestra classroom in today’s blog!

Why Is Music Important?

Music classes like orchestra offer a platform for students to learn skills necessary to be successful later in life: creative problem solving, self-expression, and an awareness of those around us. Lessons learned in the music classroom setting will be even more crucial as we return to life after COVID-19 and look to remedy the social and emotional effects of quarantine on students. 

Additionally, we know students enrolled in music experience substantial cognitive benefits compared to their non-music peers. Because of this, students enrolled in orchestra score higher on standardized tests, learn a foreign language faster, and can more quickly master complex math concepts. Students are also less likely to be truant, less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol, more likely to graduate on time, and more likely to go on to college. Simply put, we need music now more than ever.

Is It Safe For My Child To Return To Playing Their Instrument in Orchestra?

While academic studies are presently underway at Colorado State University, a recent study conducted by the Vienna Philharmonic revealed “when playing an instrument they (the musicians) faced no additional risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus when performing.”

Frequently disinfecting the musical instruments in the orchestra program, ensuring students properly maintain their own equipment, and closely following the CDC’s guidelines recommended for social distancing will allow educators to continue offering a quality music education to students while proactively preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

As of July 2020, preliminary findings from the Colorado State University study have been released. We've summarized those findings in this blog.

Current data suggests that orchestra instruments offer no additional risk of contributing to the spread of COVID-19. Performing on these instruments does not involve breathing into the instrument to create a tone and students are able to wear masks when playing. Additionally, because these instruments are sealed with a lacquer or varnish, the exterior surfaces of these instruments are non-porous and can be cleaned similarly to other surfaces. Encouraging students not to share classroom supplies, implementing a structured cleaning regimen, following the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing, and utilizing appropriate cleaning solutions that are both effective and safe for the instrument’s finish, will play an active role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the orchestra classroom. 

What Can My Child Do To Help Keep Themselves and Their Classmates Safe?

Here are some guidelines that all music students can follow to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Prior to taking their instruments out of the case and again at the conclusion of class, students should wash or disinfect their hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. 
  • Students should refrain from sharing classroom materials, such as bows, rosin, pencils, instruments or other supplies. 
  • Students should not touch or move other students’ instruments, bows, or cases.
  • For the strings and fine tuners, we recommend spraying some 90% isopropyl alcohol on a clean polish cloth and carefully wiping down only the metal parts of the instrument. Be careful not to get the alcohol on any of the wooden surfaces. 
  • Students should spray their instrument with Steri-Spray at the conclusion of each practice rehearsal or performance, prior to placing the instrument in the case. (NOTE: The active ingredient in Steri-Spray is quaternary ammonium, as confirmed by the manufacturer. This active ingredient is listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of approved COVID-19 disinfectants.)
  • Students should provide their own supplies as they are able.
  • Students should remain at home when feeling sick.
  • Students should clean the instrument, bow, and case as recommended by NAFME’s Instrument Cleaning Guidelines.

Stringed instruments require specific protocols for cleaning, which should be completed before beginning the actual sanitizing process.

Check out the links below for instructional videos on cleaning string instruments. These techniques can be used for Cello and Bass as well.

Once your student has followed the steps from the videos above, they’ll be ready to sanitize their instrument.

Here are some videos that outline the process for sanitizing musical instruments: 

We hope this information helps you make an informed decision when it comes to your child’s return to orchestra. If you have any questions or want more information, feel free to call Amro Music or send us an email.

References for today’s blog:

 “Come One, Come All: the Benefits of Making-Music within the Community.” Percussion Play, Accessed 5/29/2020

 “Music Education and Academic Achievement.” The National Association for Music Education, Accessed 5/28/2020

 “The Potential Role of Music in Second Language Learning: A Review Article”. The Journal of European Psychology Students, Accessed 5/29/2020

 “Music and Health.” Harvard University, Accessed 5/29/2020

 “20 Important Benefits of Music in our Schools.” The National Association for Music Education, Accessed 5/29/2020

 “Unprecedented International Coalition led by Performing Arts Organizations to Commission COVID-19 Study.” The National Federation of State High School Associations, Accessed 5/27/2020

“Vienna Philharmonic says no increased visus risk for orchestras.” Medical Xpress, Accessed 4/28/2020

 “Vienna Philharmonic says no increased virus risk for orchestras.” Barron’s,  Accessed 4/28/2020

 “Army Band COVID-19 Risk Mitigation for Large Groups.” West Point Music Research Center, Accessed 6/4/2020

 “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 4/28/2020

 “How to Clean and Disinfect.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 4/29/2020

 “Superslick Steri-Spray Mouthpiece Cleaner and Case Freshener.” American Way Marketing, Accessed 6/2/2020

 “COVID-19 Disinfectants.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Accessed 6/1/2020

 “Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs to Plan, Prepare, and Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 4/28/2020

 “Social Distancing.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention,, Accessed 6/1/2020

 “Considerations for Schools.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 5/29/2020

“COVID-19 Instrument Cleaning Guidelines”, The National Association for Music Education, Accessed 5/30/2020

Posted by Emilee McGee at 09:51