Working in schools as a peripatetic instrumental music teacher, we are used to the numerous viruses that may be transmitted, having so many children in such close proximity to each other.
You are considered at high risk of catching the coronavirus when you are in direct physical contact with someone infected, be coughed or sneezed on by them (or pick up a used tissue), or be in face-to-face contact, within two metres, for more than 15 minutes.
You may find many parallels with the above description in your own 15 to 30 minute music lessons in a small room with your students but there are many other opportunities to pick up a virus rather than just from the children you teach. My first physical contact in the school is the door that I enter and then the signing in procedure on a tablet or pen and paper. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), coronaviruses may survive on surfaces for just a few hours or several days.
I play a woodwind instrument, touching my instrument and inserting my mouthpiece and reeds into my mouth throughout the day. I fill my lungs full of air from the environment around me to make my sound. I touch their music books, music stand, mark in the music with a pencil and input mymusicpb.com practice notes on my tablet. I may have to help assemble or fix the student’s instrument, including adjusting their reed which has been in or is about to enter their mouth. School pianos are played on, not knowing the health of those who last touched the keys. I travel from school to school.
It is all a bit overwhelming to realise just how easy it is to pick up and transfer viruses in our job, but until the recent media attention on the coronavirus, I never gave this much thought. The human body contains trillions of microorganisms, outnumbering human cells but that still doesn’t stop you from enjoying a world full of music.
We can be grateful that this virus has made us more aware of just how easy viruses are transmitted while the prospect of self isolation may offer a time to reflect and evaluate. By observing our actions and setting a few precautionary cleaning routines, we can ensure we all stay more healthy, allowing us to enjoy the wonderful experience of enriching children’s lives through music.
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