While I am not convinced these make a significant actual difference in single or double-reed instrument emissions (as virtually all air exits the tone holes, which more recent studies describe as equivalent to whispering at a distance of 3 feet) I have observed it does provide a significant psychological benefit for those string players who would otherwise be likely to indiscriminately pin big red "C"s on all wind instrument players. In addition, under social distancing rules in effect at many rehearsal and performance venues, wearing the mask allows players to use normal seating distances, facilitating greater musical coordination. One caveat about the masks, in addition to those made by Ann. For "mouth-breathers"--try to only breath through your nose. Grabbing a quick breath through the mouth during a long passage can inadvertently result in the "veil" wrapping itself around the reed. Despite that, I still prefer this mask over others with stiffer and/or magnetized veils as the latter seem to me to prevent inhaling to a greater degree, and tire me more quickly. Despite it's occasional issues and limited actual protection, overall I'd give this mask "3 stars" vs "1 to 2 stars" for a magnetized veil mask offered by an unnamed maker of gig bags and instrument cases. (Note: I am unable to change the number of stars to reflect my actual rating.)
The Bell Barrier Wind Instrument Veil-style Performance face masks have a clear opening around the mouth so the reed can be inserted. After the reed is inserted in the mouth, the veil can come down over it. Unlike other performance masks, the Bell Barrier performance face masks cover the opening, offering an extra layer of protection and a comfortable and uniform look. Their masks are also one-size-fits-all with adjustable tabs on the ear loops, further separating them from the competition. DESIGN CHANGE: There was a design change since the pictures were taken. The straps are now the adjustable behind the ear type instead of behind the head as the picture shows.
"Although the idea of this mask is good, there are some inherent problems with any face mask while playing an instrument, especially a double reed instrument. The biggest issue for a double reed player is that you can't see the reed as you're putting it into your mouth. The chance of a reed in the teeth or chin is quite high. I recommend sticking your tongue out far and carefully laying the reed on it to draw it into your mouth. That is the normally recommended safe way to put a reed in the mouth anyway, but you usually don't have to stick out your tongue as far as I'm recommending. Once in, I recommend leaving it there even when not playing. For the oboist or clarinetist, the bell can be rested on your knee while leaving your reed resting in your mouth. That will mitigate reed disasters and make you more ready to play when it's time." - Ann Hodge
For more information, read our Playing It Safe blog post.
Perfect for the CovIdiot!