As more ensembles are playing in person, it’s important to take safety measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
If you’re a trumpet player, you might wonder if bell covers can protect yourself and others from spreading respiratory droplets.
Let’s discuss bell covers and whether they’re effective in fighting COVID.
Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Trumpet Bell Covers:
Bell covers were specially made to decrease the number of respiratory droplets that escape from a trumpet. These are stretched over the bell, creating a barrier to trap aerosols and limit the spread of COVID-19. They can dull a trumpet’s projection and timbre, but they won’t completely function as a mute.
What Exactly is a Trumpet Bell Cover?
A bell cover is usually made from a double-layer of nylon material stretched over an instrument’s bell.
These were invented recently to stop the spread of COVID-19.
When someone plays the trumpet, condensation and saliva build-up in their horn. It’s difficult to stop this from spreading further. Because COVID quickly spreads through the transmission of respiratory droplets, this is a major concern for instrumentalists.
Trumpet bell covers do exactly what you’d expect. They cover the bell of a trumpet, preventing water droplets from coming out of the bell. This protects other players from COVID.
How Does a Bell Cover Affect the Sound and Timbre?
A bell cover does have some effect on a trumpet’s sound and timbre.
It seems to lower a player’s ability to project. Since there is a physical covering over the bell, not as much air leaves the trumpet. The sound is slightly muffled, which may be noticeable.
This may be a problem for ensembles like marching bands where players need to project over long distances. They’ll likely need to use more air to increase their volume.
Some trumpet players mention that bell covers muffle their articulation. Higher-frequency sound is more muted with a bell cover, and clarity of articulation is lost as well.
To see a more in-depth analysis of a trumpet’s sound with and without a bell cover, check out this video:
Although a bell cover doesn’t completely dull the sound and timbre, it does sound different.
Musicians may be bothered by this difference, but many audience members without musical experience might not notice.
How Effective are Trumpet Bell Covers?
Because schools are opening up and instrumentalists are playing together in person, we need to find the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Bell covers can be effective, but only when paired with other safety measures.
A trumpet player produces air that has the highest concentration of potentially infectious particles. Some of this travels through the horn and out the bell. Because of this, bell covers can be effective.
You can see how aerosol particles escape from a trumpet in this video:
Bell covers prevent respiratory droplets from leaving the bell and potentially infecting another instrumentalist.
Although it can affect a trumpet’s sound, it can be essential when limiting the spread of COVID.
One study showed that bell covers could reduce airborne respiratory droplets by an average of 79%.
However, using just a bell cover is not the best method. Respiratory droplets can also escape around the mouthpiece and through the water keys.
Many ensembles are also using specialized masks. These are made with a hole in the middle so that trumpet players can insert their mouthpieces inside. This limits the spread of droplets from the mouth.
Likely, the best way to avoid spreading respiratory droplets is by playing outside while socially distanced. Although this is not ideal for some ensembles, the extra airflow and physical distance can work well in preventing any airborne transmission of COVID.
How Much Do Trumpet Bell Covers Cost?
A trumpet bell cover can cost between $7 and $20, depending on the brand.
ProTec makes a bell cover that can fit a trumpet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, or soprano saxophone. It has a double-layer of fabric for extra protection against aerosols.
This bell cover doesn’t affect playability and is machine washable.
Many reviewers mention that ProTec makes a bell cover with a perfect fit. It is high-quality and doesn’t interfere with sound production.
What Materials are Trumpet Bell Covers Made Of?
Trumpet bell covers are made from a stretchy but durable fabric.
This could be a polyester/spandex blend or nylon. Any bell cover needs to be thick enough to create a barrier for aerosols but flexible enough to fit around a bell.
Instrument brands use a double-layer of stretchy fabric so that you can have maximum protection against the virus.
What are the Most Popular Brands in Bell Covers?
On Amazon, one of the most highly-reviewed bell cover from ProTec.
Conn Selmer, a popular instrument manufacturer, also makes a great bell cover. This is a double-layer nylon fabric that will cover a 5-inch bell.
These are the two most popular bell covers, ProTec being the slightly cheaper option.
They are around the same price on Amazon, but Woodwind and Brasswind have the ProTec cover for only $9.
How Do You Make a Trumpet Bell Cover Yourself?
Bell covers are a simple solution to allow students to play together again.
You can only buy bell covers online because of the pandemic, so it might take a while before you receive them.
You might want to consider making one yourself. It is an easy process that you can do with just some fabric and a sewing machine.
What you’ll need:
- Fabric that stretches (nylon or a polyester/spandex blend)
- 3/8 inch elastic
- Safety pins
- Thread in the same color as the fabric
- Sewing machine
You can find any of these supplies at the nearest craft store.
If you don’t want to buy fabric, you can even use athletic apparel.
These are usually made of a stretchy material that will be effective in this project.
- Step one: Place your trumpet bell on a piece of paper and trace it with a pencil.
- Step two: Measure 1.25 inches larger than this circle. You can use a compass to enlarge the circle or a ruler to measure several points and make an approximate circle. This will be where you’ll cut.
- Step three: Cut your paper around the larger circle.
- Step four: Place this stencil on your fabric and cut two circles.
- Step five: Put the two circles with the right sides facing together using pins.
- Step six: Stitch together, making a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Leave a small hole so you can flip it inside out. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching.
- Step seven: Turn inside out.
- Step eight: Make another seam. It should be 5/8 inch from the outer edge. This will create a space for the elastic. Do not leave an opening.
- Step nine: Cut your elastic to about 11 inches long.
- Step ten: Put a safety pin on one side of the elastic and work it all the way around the edge of the bell cover.
- Step eleven: Sew the ends of the elastic together and sew the opening closed.
Your bell cover should now fit over your trumpet!
Is a Bell Cover the Same as a Mute?
Bell covers and mutes are not the same.
Mutes are specially made to change the sound of a trumpet. Bell covers try to affect the sound as little as possible.
The main purpose of bell covers is to limit the spread of COVID. More ensembles are playing in person, so they want to decrease aerosols in the room. Bell covers seal off the bell, not letting respiratory droplets through.
Bell covers to change a trumpet’s sound a little, but not significantly. A mute will completely dampen a trumpet’s sound.
This is a stylistic choice that players make on purpose. Some pieces of music need a trumpet player to have a more mellow, muted sound.
You can’t use a bell cover as a substitute for a mute. Bell covers do not dampen a trumpet’s sound. Mutes completely dampen sound for a specific purpose.
As a trumpet player, you want to do as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID, but you also want to start playing in ensembles again.
Fortunately, you can do both. Bell covers are effective in limiting the spread of respiratory droplets.
However, it would be best if you didn’t rely on this method alone. Bell covers are most effective when combined with wearing instrument masks, social distancing, and playing outside.