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Covid-related questions for members who play in orchestras/bands ...

Ivan

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The aerosol comes out of the corners of the sax player's mouth where the reed meets the curve of the facing
Your embouchure is surely too loose? I, like many sax players, make a seal with my lips all the around
flute and piccolo instruments only to sample aerosol emitted from the mouth
It's a numbers game. Most of a flautist's breath will pass forward over the embouchure hole. If you can't find droplets in that airstream, you ain't gonna find them taking a 90 degree turn down the body of the flute or piccolo

Really, your objections hinges on you and your band mates strangely wet method of playing
 

lydian

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Your embouchure is surely too loose? I, like many sax players, make a seal with my lips all the around

It's a numbers game. Most of a flautist's breath will pass forward over the embouchure hole. If you can't find droplets in that airstream, you ain't gonna find them taking a 90 degree turn down the body of the flute or piccolo

Really, your objections hinges on you and your band mates strangely wet method of playing
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my embouchure. It’s very air tight and works perfectly well. I can sound like anybody from Dexter to Brecker. I’d like to see you solo over a big band for 2 hours on a massively open mouthpiece at full volume, use many different embouchures for subtone, etc. and end up with zero droplets on your horn. My goal is to blow with power and energy, not to keep my horn perfectly clean.

Even one of the first respondents to the article here mentions droplets on his horn. In my experience these droplets are the rule rather than the exception. Perhaps your embouchure is wrong? How long have you been playing, who did you study with, how many bands, and how many other sax players have you encountered? I've been playing since the 70s in dozens of bands and have played with hundreds of sax players. I've studied with some of the best players around, and none have ever had anything to say about my embouchure.
Well, judging by the state of my saxes most "droplets" (ha!) end up on the sax.

I find no fault in the flute testing. That was to point out the fact that flute was the ONLY instrument they tested thoroughly enough, something they should have done with sax as well.
 
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David Dorning

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Even one of the first respondents to the article here mentions droplets on his horn. In my experience these droplets are the rule rather than the exception. Perhaps your embouchure is wrong? How long have you been playing, who did you study with, how many bands, and how many other sax players have you encountered? I've been playing since the 70s in dozens of bands and have played with hundreds of sax players. I've studied with some of the best players around, and none have ever had anything to say about my embouchure.



Presumably as those droplets have condensed on the cool brass of you horn, any virus they contain has been effectively taken out of the air other people are breathing, which I think is Nick’s point. What interests me is to know how much of the moisture in your breath has not been sequestered in this way, because presumably that is the part that could infect others. Is it 5%? 25%? 75%? I have no idea but I think that percentage would be interesting to know.
 

Dr G

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Presumably as those droplets have condensed on the cool brass of you horn, any virus they contain has been effectively taken out of the air other people are breathing, which I think is Nick’s point. What interests me is to know how much of the moisture in your breath has not been sequestered in this way, because presumably that is the part that could infect others. Is it 5%? 25%? 75%? I have no idea but I think that percentage would be interesting to know.

That presumes that all droplets condense on the horn, rather than realizing that the only aerosol droplets that condense are the ones that land there. Then there is all the rest…

+1 to Lydian’s observations. I am a big band tenor player too, and also experience spots and drips on the outside of my horns.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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I'd say there was something important missing. Wind players, especially those with bigger instruments (like my infected tuba friend) take in and expel quite a bit more air than, say, a masked violinist. So higher risk of being infected.
 

David Dorning

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That presumes that all droplets condense on the horn, rather than realizing that the only aerosol droplets that condense are the ones that land there. Then there is all the rest…
Yes, I’m recognising that only some of the droplets condense on the horn. “All the rest” is the percentage I wonder about.
 

lydian

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Presumably as those droplets have condensed on the cool brass of you horn, any virus they contain has been effectively taken out of the air other people are breathing, which I think is Nick’s point. What interests me is to know how much of the moisture in your breath has not been sequestered in this way, because presumably that is the part that could infect others. Is it 5%? 25%? 75%? I have no idea but I think that percentage would be interesting to know.
We can do a rough calculation to get in the ballpark. We have to make some assumptions first. Let's assume gravity ultimately pulls all the bigger droplets down significantly before they hit the .5m radius sphere around the player's mouthpiece. Taking a cross section leaves us with a half circle of radius .5m. Now draw the conic shape of a sax inside that half circle and note how many degrees of arc the resulting cord covers. The remainder is what condenses on the ground or on your bandmates to either side. When I do this with my bari, it covers about 10 degrees or 5%. So about 95% goes elsewhere.

What is the average flow rate of these droplets? I have no idea, but it's certainly higher than someone singing or speaking. I can talk to my bari all day and probably won't get a single droplet on it. We also have to consider the humidity and temperature. In a low humidity, high temperature environment, a good many droplets will simply evaporate. In higher humidity they won't. What we can say with complete certainty is that the study in question ignored ALL of this.

Let's say for argument's sake that only a small fraction of sax players have these emissions from where the reed meets the facing curve which might occasionally not be completely covered by the lips. Obviously, it's going to cut your chances of infection way down. But are you willing to take that chance? Are you going to inspect each player's horn to see if they're this kind of player? Why not just play it safe and take the appropriate precautions.

If I had read the article about this study and not seen the picture of how they tested, I would probably have accepted the result at face value and ended up with a false sense of security. But the picture and the description of the methodology in the study confirm that they completely ignored a major source of aerosol. So at least as far as the sax is concerned, I consider their conclusions invalid.
 

Ivan

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I'd say there was something important missing. Wind players, especially those with bigger instruments (like my infected tuba friend) take in and expel quite a bit more air than, say, a masked violinist. So higher risk of being infected
I can see where you are coming from. But volume of air shifted in and out may be less important than you think

Sucking in more air may have a small effect on pulling particles into your respiratory tract, but if you look at how ineffective a powerful hoover is once you put more than few centimeters between its nozzle and the target dust, you might need to breathe in really, really hard to suck in anything that isn't floating very close to you anyway

On breathing out the critical factor in producing aerosols is an action over and above air speed that turns the moisture that coats your throat and mouth into an aerosol, rather than evaporating as a vapour. It really needs a percussive event like coughing and sneezing or (implied in this paper) talking. It might be that Ts, Bs and Ps launch spit
 
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Dr G

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No.

So the germs in the body of the sax will be possibly be killed, but not those on the outside.
The moral is: Don't pick up a saxes from strangers.

Covid is contagious when it enters the sinuses, so it’s not a issue of touching other people’s horns as long as you wash your hands afterward. Don’t go sniffing their horn - that’s when bad stuff happens.

Over to you, Colin and Stephen.
 

lydian

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The point about droplets on the horn was simply evidence that there are lots of droplets in the air. The ones that land on the horn are obviously harmless. It's all the droplets that are NOT on the horn you should worry about. If you're sitting very close to such a player in a small room for a couple of hours, and that player has Covid, you're going to get it.
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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The point about droplets on the horn was simply evidence that there are lots of droplets in the air. The ones that land on the horn are obviously harmless. It's all the droplets that are NOT on the horn you should worry about. If you're sitting very close to such a player in a small room for a couple of hours, and that player has Covid, you're going to get it.
I suspect that if you are sitting in a small room for a couple of hours next to a person with Covid then you are going to catch it regardless of whether they are playing a saxophone messily.

All in all, maybe I shall go and hide under the stairs for a year or two.
 

Dr G

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I suspect that if you are sitting in a small room for a couple of hours next to a person with Covid then you are going to catch it regardless of whether they are playing a saxophone messily.

You can mitigate that risk by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. And yes, if you are unmasked and sitting close to someone with Covid in a small room for hours at a time, your chances of infection are high - so don’t do that.
 

Colin the Bear

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Got to go with something. Nobody lives forever. It's not about how you die. It's about how you live. I don't want to live without playing music. If covid gets me...so be it. Didn't think I'd live this long anyhow. Sex and drugs and rock'n roll and motorbikes and street fights and drunkeness and Chernobil and BSE and terrorists. Did I miss anything? Just life innit?
 

Ivan

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I sit in a small room, close to myself, at least once a day

Tell me

What are my chances?
 

Pete Thomas

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Your embouchure is surely too loose? I, like many sax players, make a seal with my lips all the around
I think we are all different. I'm with Lydian on this (though about calling people morons). I'm sure that very often there is no seal, and air/droplets comes out around the mouthpiece. Not sure about tonholes but I imagine it's possible, although i would expect anyone doing a study to check and not just assume it does or doesn't.

NB: quick reminder about the thread staying active: lots of COVID threads seemed to disappear on SOTW because of getting political (which now includes arguments about anti masking) , conspiracy theories, potentially fake remedies, etc.

It's a good discussion so please be aware of all this and think about what you say. NB: this isn't just me being awkward but a while back we did actually get a notice from Google that speculation about COVID remedies did actually cause them to penalise one of the pages. I suppose we should be grateful they even notice us :)
 
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