The Violinist's Guide to Protecting from Coronavirus and Other Germs
March 6, 2020, 6:17 PM · Playing the violin can be a very communal activity, and with the instrument right up against our faces, we have some unique considerations when it comes to being sanitary during the outbreak of any disease, whether it's the coronavirus, the flu or the common cold.
This might be going overboard, but you get the idea....
Here are a few ideas to consider in regards to your violin or viola and your activities during this current environment of potential virus transmission. Please include your own suggestions in the comments!
Don't go to rehearsal, to your lesson, to school, to the party, to the store, to anywhere... if you are sick.
Wash your hands before and after playing. That means, wash them before and after rehearsals (and during breaks); before and after your violin lesson; for teachers, before and after each student. You need to wash your hands for a long time: sing "Happy Birthday" twice through, and that should be the right amount of time. Or maybe the opening of the Mendelssohn Concerto - just make it something that lasts at least 20 seconds long!
Use alcohol wipes to wipe your chinrest. This might be impractical, but I'll make the suggestion anyway: teachers can wipe the chinrest of each student's violin before tuning it. It's also safe to clean the fingerboard and strings with alcohol wipes. I recommend the small alcohol wipes that one finds in first aid kits -- you can buy these by the box a drug store. They work best because they won't drip onto your violin. (Luthiers, is it okay to wipe the pegs with alcohol wipes?) Don't get alcohol on the varnish of the violin itself. You can use those wipes on your phone, too.
If you have to tune someone else's violin, use hand sanitizer before and after, and if possible, do not actually put the violin up to your chin. (Certainly don't sneeze or cough on the fiddle!) You can tune a violin (especially a small one) with it down on your lap; see picture below:
Listen by bowing the string with violin on your lap. You can also use fine tuners while bowing with violin on lap. Turn pegs with violin upright.
Doctors say that people need to be one meter away from one another - that's about two arm-lengths - to be safe. Keep this in mind when getting situated for a lesson, a rehearsal, a quartet practice, a group class, etc.
When it comes to masks: Doctors are saying that the mask will not protect you from getting the virus, but it can do two important things: First, it will protect other people from getting a virus from you, if you happen to be infected. And second, it will serve as a reminder to you, not to touch your face, as if you try to scratch your nose, it will be under a mask! That said, when masks are scarce, they should be reserved for medical workers.
In case all the hand sanitizer is all sold out at your local store, our own longtime Violinist.com member Yixi Zhang gives us this simple recipe for home-made hand sanitizer, which she got from a pathologist: mix two parts 99 percent alcohol with one part aloe vera gel.
Again, please share your tips and ideas in the comments below, and stay healthy!