Music Education

Sanitizing Band instruments and Sourcing Bell Covers

Since the early stages of the Covid19 crisis, CMW has been involved in delivering services to musicians and school music programs so that music performance and education can endure.

Sanitizing and Repair:

During May and April 2020 when all music performance activities were shut down, CMW reconfigured its newly constructed repair/rehearsal studio and its mobile repair shop to enable the cleaning, sanitization and repair of a school band’s entire instrument inventory. The repair bus was refitted to haul 250 instruments at a time from the school to our repair facility. The new shop was reconfigured to provide each technician had his/her own Covid compliant workspace. Five employees worked on the instruments (which were left untouched for at least one week in each school) while maintaining the proper social distancing guidelines using masks and hand sanitizer. To maximize the speed of instrument assessment and optimization of repairs, the members of the Perfect Cadence Woodwind Quintet were hired to test each instrument and quickly pinpoint the repair issues. With our excellent team, David Caswell, Daryl Caswell, Ian Hartley, Paul Scholz, Glenda Denig and Barbara Schneider, we were able to clean, sanitize and repair up to 150 instruments every week. Although the project was initially set up for a run of 650 instruments, the final tally was 1300 instruments for Alberta school band programs from Sylvan Lake to Okotoks.

Instrument Bell Covers:

As the summer months progressed, Daryl (PhD in music acoustics and multi-disciplinary research) was closely following the developing research into wind instruments and their potential for spreading the virus. One of Daryl’s music colleagues, Natalie DeJong (trumpet instructor at MRU) consulted with him from time to time as she also followed the developing research with an eye toward creating devices for wind players that would greatly reduce the potential for spreading the virus while playing the instrument. After a summer of research and testing, Natalie began to design and produce bell covers for brass instruments. Natalie’s research clearly demonstrated that the material used for the bell covers is critically important, as is the proper fit of the cover over the bell. If no thought is given to these two issues, the cover can reduce the playability of the instrument and negatively affect the sound. 

Caswell Music Works is very pleased to offer Natalie’s bell covers for sale for both woodwinds and brass. 

As school bands began to return to playing in November, Daryl received a request from Rob Ceselli (Ernest Manning School) to design a screen for flute players. Daryl designed a prototype that has been well received by players and teachers. It conforms to the current Alberta Health and Safety guidelines for wind instrument Covid screens. The flute screen uses the covers that Natalie has developed and it is now also available for purchase.

Tips for Players and Teachers

Do not put valve oil in the slides.

We see a lot of horns with gummy valves. It seems that student horn players misunderstand the process of oiling rotary valves. Do not pull out a valve slide and drip valve oil into the slide. The oil will mix with the slide grease and take the resulting gummy mess into your valves. A rotary valve has only two small contact areas that require oil—

the top bearing and the bottom bearing. The body of the rotor does not touch the casing and therefore needs neither oil nor the gummy mess from the mixture of oil and grease. All that is required are a few drops of oil on the top rotor shaft (Figure #1) and on the bottom slot where the rotor stop meets the casing (Figure#2). Applying some oil and then pulling the slide out a couple of centimeters or so will create suction that will draw the oil into the bearings. That is all you need to do. Please, no more oil in the slides. 

Top of Rotor
Bottom of Rotor
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