Safety in the performing arts tends to slip through the cracks during the best of times, but a program at the University of North Texas is trying to keep that from happening.
We Mean Clean launched earlier this month when organizers sent out video tutorials to school districts across the state in hopes of helping students safely clean their instruments before returning them to their schools.
The initiative was spurred on by the ongoing pandemic, but the fight to keep instruments clean is not pandemic-specific, said UNT professor Kris Chesky.
The program is a coordinated effort between UNT’s Texas Center for Performing Arts Health, which Chesky founded and co-directs, and Denton ISD.
Chesky said the processes outlined for students in the We Mean Clean video series aren’t guaranteed to clean out any potential bits of the novel coronavirus in instruments, but it’s a good place to start.
Justin Cooper, an adjunct professor and instrument repair tech at UNT, led the video teaching students how to properly clean a French horn. Before he removed the tuning slides and submerged the horn in a bathtub, Cooper took a moment to explain how the video could help: “Please note that this type of cleaning does not sterilize or disinfect an instrument, but, if done on a regular basis, will keep your instrument in good working order and free of harmful buildup.”
The Centers for Disease Control recently revised its guidance to explicitly state that contact with a contaminated surface isn’t the primary means of transmission for the novel coronavirus. Despite that, it is not clear how long samples of the virus might survive within wind instruments.
Meghan Taylor, a doctoral student at UNT, has been at the forefront of several TCPAH projects, including the lecture series the center put on at Guyer High School this past year.
Taylor is among the inaugural class in her doctoral program. Reached by phone Friday, she said she had recently begun writing her dissertation, which will involve health literacy in public school choirs and orchestras. Once complete, she will have earned her doctorate in music with a concentration in performing arts health.
She said the ongoing pandemic helped the center to continue and expand its work with Denton ISD. She was hopeful the center will be able to produce more video resources for school districts in the fall semester.