The COVID-19 epidemic has changed a lot about the world. We’re not supposed to be close to each other or control our fluids better (particularly speech spittle and sweat). That can make live music rehearsal and performance very difficult for the musician. At The Music Box, we had to shut down our Hourly Studios due to local restrictions, but also because it simply wasn’t safe to have a group of bandmates that don’t live together sweating and yelling that close together in a high-traffic area. I mean, it would’ve been different if Hanson or Haim came knocking because, you know, family and whatnot. As we reopen (officially opened as of May 21, 2020) we want to share some of the things we’re doing to keep our musicians safe and healthy that you can implement into your rehearsal routine.
1. UV-C Sterilizer Box
The piece of gear with the most potential for bacteria transmission between musicians is hands-down our vocal mics. We use a combination of Shure SM58 and SM57 mics on different stands, so they get tossed around and mouths are very close to them. To combat this we use a UV-C Sterilizer Box that uses ultraviolent light, the same part of the light spectrum that causes sunburn and skin-mutation in humans, to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses that may be hanging around on the vocal mics. These boxes and pouches have long been a staple in the sex industry to clean various “tools of the trade.” If they’re good enough for private use then they’re good enough for public use. The mics fit perfectly in our sterilization box which has a few different timers. The longer, the better. If you’re looking for some good options, check out LED Lighting Supply.
2. Disinfectant Wipes
Sometimes simple is better and that is definitely the case when it comes to wiping down equipment. We use industrial disinfectant wipes from our local janitorial supply company to wipe down every piece of gear and doorknobs, including the vocal mics mentioned previously, after each session. Be sure to wipe down all the cables and especially any knobs on the amps and PA system. If you’re having trouble finding these at your local grocery store, try a janitorial or industrial supply company.
3. Hand Sanitizer
This one is a no-brainer. Use hand sanitizer when arriving and as you’re leaving. Beyond simply using it, you really should consider carrying your own personal pocket-sized bottle and leave it in your vehicle or backpack so you always have some handy.
This one can often get overlooked, but we found that limiting our Hourly Studio to one session per day still allows for musician flexibility and a thorough cleaning procedure. Pre-pandemic we might have 5 or 6 sessions per day at each location on a weekend. Even though we offer 24/7 access, we are still able to allow for time in between sessions because of these scheduling limitations.
Following local guidelines is an important step in “flattening the curve” and it is equally important that all the musicians are on the same page when wearing masks. Communicate with everyone to make sure they know what to expect. We have signs posted throughout the buildings to remind everyone of our local guidelines. At this point wearing masks and not shaking hands is considered the cool thing to do, so embrace it and respect it.
Bring Your Own Sticks. This has actually long been a policy of ours for a variety of reasons, but now it’s more important than ever to make sure drummers use their own sticks. Drum sticks can be a hotbed for bacteria and it’s best to simply keep those to yourself. Try not to borrow sticks from anyone or grab any that are laying around the studio. Just BYOS. If you forget them, stop by our vending machine for a brand new pair.
At the end of the day, having a clean and sterile environment for your rehearsal is more important than being lazy or ignorant about the responsibility you have towards others. Take these precautions as a guide and customize them for your rehearsal as you see fit.
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I'm the co-owner of The Music Box and a lifelong musician as a euphonium player. The son of a band director, alumnus of the University of Alabama and father of 3, I keep busy on my Peloton and managing multiple businesses.