If you’re a clarinet player, you may have heard about bell covers and wondered if they’re necessary. Bell covers are a type of protective gear designed to reduce the spread of aerosols and droplets that may come out of the instrument while playing.
They have been recommended as a control measure for woodwind instruments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While bell covers are not mandatory, they can provide an extra layer of protection for both the player and those around them. Using a bell cover can help reduce the amount of aerosols and droplets that are released into the air, which may help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. However, it’s important to note that bell covers are not a substitute for other safety measures, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
What Are Bell Covers?
Bell covers are protective covers that go over the bell of your clarinet. They are designed to help reduce the spread of aerosols and droplets, which can help prevent the transmission of viruses and other illnesses.
Bell covers are typically made from a double-layered fabric that provides an extra layer of protection. The fabric is often washable and reusable, making it an eco-friendly option for musicians. Some bell covers also come with a pocket for a filter, such as a MERV 13 filter, which can help provide additional protection.
Bell covers are available in a variety of sizes to fit different clarinet models. When choosing a bell cover, it’s important to measure your clarinet’s bell to ensure a proper fit. A properly-fitted bell cover should be snug, but not too tight, and should cover the entire bell of your clarinet.
Do Clarinets Need Bell Covers?
Do bell covers actually provide any benefits?
In this section, we will explore the benefits of using bell covers and the potential risks of not using them.
Benefits of Using Bell Covers
Bell covers are designed to cover the bell of your clarinet, which is the flared opening at the bottom of the instrument. The purpose of the cover is to help reduce the spread of aerosols and droplets that may be expelled when playing. Here are some potential benefits of using bell covers:
- Helps slow the spread of aerosols
- May reduce the risk of transmitting viruses and other illnesses
- Can be easily washed and reused
- May be required in certain performance settings, such as schools or orchestras
Overall, using a bell cover can provide an extra layer of protection for both the player and those around them.
Potential Risks of Not Using Bell Covers
While there are benefits to using bell covers, there may also be risks associated with not using them. Here are some potential risks:
- Increased risk of transmitting viruses and other illnesses
- May not be allowed in certain performance settings, such as schools or orchestras
- May be required by certain institutions, and not using one could result in disciplinary action
It is important to note that the effectiveness of bell covers in reducing the spread of aerosols and droplets is still being studied.
However, using a bell cover is a simple and easy way to potentially reduce the risk of transmitting illnesses while playing the clarinet.
Types of Bell Covers
If you’re considering purchasing a bell cover for your clarinet, there are a few different types to choose from. Here are some of the most common:
Bell covers can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, nylon, and polyester. Cotton is a popular choice because it’s breathable and easy to wash. Nylon and polyester are also good options because they’re durable and can withstand frequent use.
Designs and Styles
There are several different designs and styles of bell covers available. Some covers are simple and plain, while others feature colorful patterns or designs. Some covers are designed to fit snugly over the bell of the clarinet, while others are looser and more flexible. Some covers even come with pockets for inserting filters to help prevent the spread of germs.
When choosing a design or style, consider your personal preferences as well as the practicality of the cover. A plain cover may be more versatile and suitable for a variety of occasions, while a colorful cover may be more fun and expressive. A tighter-fitting cover may provide better protection against germs, while a looser cover may be more comfortable to play with.
How to Choose the Right Bell Cover
If you have decided to invest in a bell cover for your clarinet, it is important to choose the right one to ensure that it fits properly and provides the necessary protection. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a bell cover:
Factors to Consider
- Size: Measure the diameter of your clarinet’s bell to determine the appropriate size of the bell cover. Most bell covers are available in a range of sizes, so make sure to choose one that fits snugly over your bell.
- Material: Look for a bell cover made of a double-layered fabric that provides protection against aerosols. Some bell covers also come with a pocket for a filter that can be easily replaced.
- Playability: Choose a bell cover that allows for good playability and does not hinder your sound or technique. Look for a cover that is lightweight and easy to put on and take off.
- Brand: Consider purchasing a bell cover from a reputable brand that specializes in musical instrument accessories.
Maintenance and Care
Proper maintenance and care of your bell cover is important to ensure that it continues to provide the necessary protection and does not affect the sound quality of your clarinet. Here are some tips:
- Cleaning: Hand wash your bell cover with mild detergent and air dry. Do not machine wash or dry.
- Replacement: Replace your bell cover regularly or as needed, especially if it becomes soiled or damaged.
- Storage: Store your bell cover in a clean, dry place when not in use.
In conclusion, bell covers are a useful tool for reducing the spread of aerosols from the clarinet. They are recommended by experts as a main control measure for woodwind instruments. Bell covers can be especially helpful in situations where other measures, such as playing in a bag or covering every keyhole, are not practical.
While bell covers are not a guarantee against the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses, they can still be a valuable addition to your clarinet setup. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, so there is little downside to giving them a try.
Ultimately, the decision to use a bell cover is up to you. Consider your own personal circumstances and the recommendations of your local health authorities. If you are playing in a group or in a public setting, it may be wise to use a bell cover as an extra precaution. If you are playing solo or in a private setting, you may feel comfortable without one.