Wind Instruments May Not Be As Contagious As We Thought

Sixto F Montesinos
5 min readMay 5, 2020

This article is now outdated. There have been NEW developments since this article was originally published in May 2020. For more up-to-date and accurate information, I suggest reading:

Published July 17, 2020

Published July 13, 2020

A FULL ASSESSMENT OF THE COVID RISK OF PLAYING WIND INSTRUMENTS

Published June 11, 2020

Original Article, Published May 5, 2020:

There are more questions than answers right now regarding the spread of COVID-19 while playing woodwind or brass instruments in musical ensembles around the world. That may change by the fall.

A document was published by the Freiburg University of Music on April 25, 2020 entitled Risk Assessment Regarding Corona-Infections in Music Making . A section regarding wind instruments is quoted below.

To the best of our knowledge, there are no measurements of the viral load in the blowing air of wind instruments at present. It is known, however, that wind instrument playing requires an intensive exchange of air in the lungs and respiratory tract with sometimes high air pressures. To what extent the viral load is reduced by the airway in the instrument is unclear. It is to be assumed that the release of the breathing air into the environment during playing can lead to virus-containing aerosols. In addition, playing wind instruments causes condensation of the exhaled air in the instrument, which is to be regarded as another potentially virus-spreading material.

Then, a study regarding aerosol spread by The Bamberg Symphony published today shows preliminary results that look promising for trombone, bassoon, clarinet, oboe, and horn players. Excerpts from this report are below.

“We (The Bamberg Symphony) believe that playing a clarinet or a horn, for example, hardly releases any aerosols because the air…

Sixto F Montesinos

Mexican-American musician and educator focusing on strengthening Mexican-American relations in the wold of wind bands and classical music @sixtomontesino2