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Köberlein, Marie; Hermann, Laila; Gantner, Sophia; Tur, Bogac; Peters, Gregor; Westphalen, Caroline; Benthaus, Tobias; Döllinger, Michael; Kniesburges, Stefan; Echternach, Matthias (2022): Impulse dispersion of aerosols during playing the recorder and evaluation of safety measures. PLOS ONE, 17 (9): e0266991. ISSN 1932-6203

[thumbnail of journal.pone.0266991.pdf] Published Article

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Group musical activities using wind instruments have been restricted during the CoVID19 pandemic due to suspected higher risk of virus transmission. It was presumed that the aerosols exhaled through the tubes while playing would be ejected over larger distances and spread into the room due to jet stream effects. In particular, the soprano recorder is widely used as an instrument in school classes, for beginners of all age groups in their musical education, in the context of leisure activities and in professional concert performances. Understanding the aerosol impulse dispersion characteristics of playing the soprano recorder could assist with the establishment of concepts for safe music-making.

Five adult professionally trained soprano recorder players (4 female, 1 male) played four bars of the main theme of L. van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in low and in high octaves, as well as with 3 different potential protection devices in the high octave. For comparison they spoke the corresponding text by F. Schiller. Before each task, they inhaled .5 L of vapor from an e-cigarette filled with base liquid. The vapor cloud escaping during speaking or playing was recorded by cameras and its spread was measured as a function of time in the three spatial dimensions. The potential safety devices were rated for practicability with a questionnaire, and their influence on the sound was compared, generating a long-term average spectrum from the audio data.

When playing in the high octave, at the end of the task the clouds showed a median distance of 1.06 m to the front and .57 m diameter laterally (maxima: x: 1.35 m and y: .97 m). It was found that the clouds’ expansion values in playing the recorder with and without safety measures are mostly lower when compared to the ordinary, raised speaking voice of the same subjects. The safety devices which covered the instrument did not show clear advantages and were rated as unpractical by the subjects. The most effective reduction of the cloud was reached when playing into a suction funnel.

The aerosol dispersion characteristics of soprano recorders seem comparable to clarinets. The tested safety devices which covered holes of the instrument did not show clear benefits.

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