Playing woodwind and brass instruments is no different than a person breathing, new research has found.

Good news!

While it may seem the flurry of music-related COVID studies last year has dissipated, there are those who continue to calmly (and much less dramatically) monitor what is considered safe and what is not.

A more recent and less hurried study was published earlier this year by the University of Bristol in the UK, where even Andrew Lloyd Webber was forced to extend industry-specific isolation last week and cancel a new show.

“Aerosol generated by playing woodwind and brass instruments is less than that produced when vocalising (speaking and singing) and is no different than a person breathing, new research has found. The findings, published online in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology, could be crucial to developing a roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions in the performing arts, which have been significantly restricted since the start of the pandemic.”1

“These observations suggest that playing instruments generates less aerosol than speaking or singing at high volumes. Moreover, there is no difference between the aerosol concentrations generated by professional and amateur performers while breathing, speaking, or singing, suggesting conclusions for professional singers may also apply to amateurs.”2

Could this bring us another step closer to ‘normal’ musical activity?

  1. University of Bristol. “Playing wind instruments generates less aerosol than vocalization, COVID-19 study finds.” ScienceDaily. (accessed July 28, 2021).
  2. Lauren P. McCarthy, Christopher M. Orton, Natalie A. Watson, Florence K. A. Gregson, Allen E. Haddrell, William J. Browne, James D. Calder, Declan Costello, Jonathan P. Reid, Pallav L. Shah & Bryan R. Bzdek (2021) Aerosol and droplet generation from performing with woodwind and brass instruments, Aerosol Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/02786826.2021.1947470 (accessed July 28, 2021).