Thanks to special masks and instrument covers, the MBS Jazz Ensemble is able to stay safe and create music without missing a beat this year.
This week, MBS Performing Arts Department Chair David Gold and Band Director Dr. John Girvin handed out bell covers, saxophone bags and special masks to members of the Jazz Ensemble and showed the students how to use and care for them. The Middle School Band will also be using these new safety devices.
The covers and bags serve as “masks” for the instruments, blocking small particles and creating a barrier for germs and droplets. While playing, the musicians wear special overlapping masks with stretchy fabric and a simple slit that allows them to access the mouthpiece.
David Gold was able to secure the masks and instrument covers for the band after connecting with local mask-maker Jane Berlant.
“I had seen on Facebook that Jane had been commended by Governor Murphy back in May for making and donating hundreds of facemasks for front line workers, and I reached out,” he explained. “She really loved the idea of being able to help, and has been fully committed to the process from the very beginning. We are extremely grateful that she was available to work with us.”
While playing through a mask may seem odd – and change can be difficult – the Jazz Ensemble sounded terrific in its first practice of the semester.
“The saxophone players adjusted well since they did not need to see their hands when they play,” said Dr. Girvin, who added that it will be a tougher transition for the trumpet players, who need to adjust their mouthpiece position.
In addition to using the face masks and instrument covers, members of the Jazz Ensemble are also socially distanced when rehearsing — gone are the days of sharing a music stand! A taped grid on the Founders Hall stage maps out the space for each musician. Other members of the ensemble are safely spread out in the first few rows of seats and in the wings of the theater.