Safe singing with masks
  • How can singing with masks be done, either singing chant Propers or any kind of polyphony, safely?
  • To be frank, it didn't work for us.

    There are a couple of websites selling specialized singing masks that have a structure almost like a bird cage to keep the mask off of your face (there are also silicone inserts that can do this to any mask) which could be of help... but they so muffle the sound and restrict airflow we just had to give up on it. We are a small group of intimates, however, and many of our schola have either had it or were vaccinated (or both) so our risk level is fairly low at this point.

    It should also be noted that masks can be reasonably effective at filtering air on the way in, but do comparably little to filter on the way out, as the pressure causes the edges of the mask to flap open even if you can't see it. There are videos floating around that show how much of the air you breathe out of a mask actually shoots out the sides and up toward your eyes on either side of the nose where they tend to only fit loosely.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 538
    The choir at St. Paul's in Akron, Ohio, sang wearing masks for Christmas Day (OF) and it went well. I heard from a parishioner on Sunday that the choir sounded wonderful! I said, "thank you" and quipped that we were the "masked singers." I find cloth masks work best for me and my glasses fogging up is minimal.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • stulte
    Posts: 332
    How can singing with masks be done, either singing chant Propers or any kind of polyphony, safely?

    How anyone can breath properly with those on while doing something like singing is beyond me. Reducing your airflow while singing is never a good idea. I'd go without.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw hilluminar
  • Don,

    Please elaborate. In what ways did it go well? (Choose any that apply, but add your own, since I'm sure to leave something out.

    1) No one passed out.
    2) The ensemble managed to stay together.
    3) The choir (without microphones) was audible to itself, and as far as the altar. (God doesn't need a hearing aid, anyway).
    4) Neither tone nor pitch were adversely impacted.

    Stulte,

    If it were my decision....
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • stulte
    Posts: 332
    Stulte,

    If it were my decision....

    I know, I know. We live in difficult times.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • TCJ
    Posts: 787
    I've told my choir that I don't like the usage of masks and asked them not to. Now when any of them feels that he's been exposed to the virus he asks me permission to wear a mask.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw hilluminar
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,436
    Reducing your airflow while singing is never a good idea

    On the contrary, an efficient and economical airflow is always for the better, and masks have been a valuable feedback for some of my singers. Jogging up the five flights of stairs at the library while masked, as I did yesterday, is a different matter, but I can still distinguish discomfort from 'danger'.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Liam
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,787
    At the cathedral in Boston, the professional choir seems to do well even with masks:
    https://www.facebook.com/rcabcathedral/videos/474253664118359
    e.g., at 30 min into the video ("Hark, the Herald Angels Sing")
    at 1 hr 37 min (Agnus Dei by Peloquin)
    and 1 hr 39 min (communion antiphon)

    Thanked by 2CharlesW Liam
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 538
    Chris,
    No one passed out, all of us stayed together, we do have choir mics and they were used, our tone and pitch were not affected as far as I could tell. Are you familiar with the choral piece Psallite, I think that's the right spelling, we did a cappella for prelude. We had two tenors, one baritone, four sopranos for our small group. As a forty year choir veteran, the choir did quite well (IMHO). Our actual Christmas program is listed on another forum topic, Christmas 2021, I think.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,471
    Chonak, that organ is always thrilling to hear.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,791
    Safe singing is indeed possible with (the right kind of) masks or masks with an insert/bracket/frame.

    Christmas With Zephyrus 2020 (the ensemble I sang with from 1992-2004):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZJjsVCb8h8&t=57s

    2021 The Phipps Festival Chorus | We Make Joy Now in this Fest!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km4ulI_XTFQ

    Most of the singers with the Festival Chorus used a mask insert/bracket/frame which made it rather easy to breathe and sing without undue extra effort or inconvenience.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,224
    I've used various levels of "useful" masks, and even something as thin as a mosquito net fabric (which was as far away as the brim of my hat could get it), and I ended up with a very warm & damp face, every time. The masks gave me a sore throat each time, and I'd then lose my voice.
    It's clearly not harmless for everyone.
    Our local university posted a video of one of their vocal groups, masked (with choir masks) and with hand mics. They were still quite muffled, which is sad.
  • Steve QSteve Q
    Posts: 102
    We use the type of mask Chuck is talking about. Got ours on Amazon through a seller called Southeastern Performance Apparel. It has a kind of bracket/frame that keeps the material away from your mouth for easy breathing and good diction. The sound comes through quite well also, but it is fitted nicely to prevent particles from escaping.

    We used them this Advent while singing Giffen's harmonization of "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus"!
    ;-)
    3412 x 1920 - 795K
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 538
    I use a mask made by Stark Vacuum company. https://starks.com/products/face-masks/

    They're washing machine safe, adjustable, different colors, and a nose guard to help prevent glasses from fogging up. I found the nose guard to be about 90 percent effective.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,436
    I ended up with a very warm & damp face, every time. The masks gave me a sore throat each time, and I'd then lose my voice.
    It's clearly not harmless for everyone.

    Corinne, have you discussed this with your doctor?

    I've ended up with a very warm and damp face in the loft of a 19c church in Maryland in July at my brother in law's wedding, with my bare feet in a tub of ice. That I didn't lose my voice is anecdotal evidence, of course, and I can easily believe we might be made of different stuffs.
  • Let’s not normalize singing with masks on. It’s ridiculous and as someone who sits in the pews, it does change the tone. It sounds muffled and terrible.

    We’re going into year 3 of this. It’s time to move on and just accept that people are going to get sick.
  • Sponsa,

    I'm distinctly NOT trying to normalize it, for what it's worth. I try to avoid normalizing the wearing of masks in unwarranted situations (that is, most of the time).
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,224
    I've not discussed anything with any sort of doctor besides a dentist, since all this.
    I don't actually like seeing doctors, and so their relaxed attitude about yearly check-ups and such "since covid" has been a-ok with me.

    Regardless, I didn't get sick... I just got a sore throat and lost my voice. I'm a very warm-natured person, already, and so adding something that traps warm air close to my face is not good for me. I can't imagine it actually being good for anyone.