Toot YOUR OWN Horn: Germs Can Thrive On School Instruments

If your child plays in their school band, some fungi may cause him or her to not be a “fun guy.” A new study suggests that school band instruments may be a risk to the health of young musicians. Researchers tested a number of high school band instruments, and found they were contaminated with different kinds of bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms can be associated with various infections and some allergic diseases. For instance, mold can cause asthma, while yeast can cause skin infections around the mouth and lips.

Appearing in the March/April issue of the journal General Dentistry, this study is far from comprehensive. Apparently, they only tested 13 band instruments for their research. However, this study does bring up a valid point. Anytime someone is constantly blowing into a horn, causing moisture to build up, bacteria is not far away if the instrument is not properly cleaned from time to time. Also, sometimes tiny food particles can build up in the tubing, which is just gross. Although I wouldn’t let any of this preclude my child’s involvement in a music class, I wouldn’t let this keep me up at night, either.

There are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the risk. If at all possible, get your child their own instrument. Many are available for rent at local music shops. If not, loaning one from their school is not the end of the world. Either way, any brass instrument (such as a trumpet or trombone) is easy to clean yourself. Just take the instrument to the bathtub. Use a cup to run warm water, with a little liquid dish soap, through the bell of the horn. Music stores also sell “snakes” and other devices that you can use to clean out the tubing more thoroughly. I would do this about every few months or so. If your child has a woodwind instrument (such as a flute, clarinet or saxophone), check with their teacher for the proper and safe cleaning procedures. Getting the pads of these instruments overly wet can cause problems. If your child plays one of the school’s larger instruments (such as a tuba), ask your music teacher how often their instruments are cleaned. If needed, you may want to ask if you can take the instrument home to clean it. It’s worth the trouble in the long run.

Toot YOUR OWN Horn- Germs Can Thrive On School Instruments- Snake

There are other concerns, as well. Younger children may be in a class where the teacher may pass an instrument or mouthpiece around to different students. Music teachers should carry some kind of alcohol spray with them, to disinfect the mouthpiece. This would be a good question for parent-teacher night. Also, for woodwind players, the reeds they use may develop bacteria even before the reed itself wears out. Make sure your kids have fresh reeds often.

To reiterate, although this is a valid concern, don’t lose any sleep over it. However, as far as the headaches you can get from your child playing a loud instrument in your home are concerned, I can’t help you there.

Source: Yahoo! News


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