About Life in Flow:Flow in Life

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Every Tuesday the New York Times includes the Science Times section. A recurring column is "Really?" in which a Claim is stated, the Facts examined and then we get the Bottom Line. This week the Claim was "Playing a wind instrument causes respiratory infection." Yikes! The facts state that wind and brass players apparently get more respiratory ailments than others. A recent study from Tufts tested a number of flutes, clarinets, saxophones and trumpets for bacteria and other nasty things. All the instruments had live bacteria and mold. Yuck!

The two examples in the article -- a trombonist and a saxophone player -- both had respiratory problems for long periods of time. These problems went away after the players began either disinfecting, in the case of the trombone, or washing the mouthpiece, in the saxophonist's case. The Bottom Line tells us we should routinely clean our instruments or run the risk of getting sick. It seems pretty obvious, but it's easy to let a lot of time pass before giving the horn a thorough cleaning. I took my horn to our wonderful brass repairman for a cleaning and adjustments. When i picked it up he suggested mildly that it would be good if I rinsed it out now and then. Oops.

For a hilarious story about cleaning a horn, read this blog post by Pip Eastop, a horn player with various groups in London, titled "How not to clean your horn ... "

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