Flute guru: I survived Covid-19 by deep breathing

Flute guru: I survived Covid-19 by deep breathing


norman lebrecht

April 19, 2020

The American flute virtuoso, composer and teacher Robert Dick has survived a severe bout of Coronavirus. He is 70.

Dick writes:

‘I’m happy to announce that I have recovered from a full blown bout of COVID-19. A nightmare experience. Yet, even at the worst of it, I could breathe deeply, and this prevented the virus from settling into my lungs to start the fibrosis that is so dangerous. I’m joyously giving my lifetime of flute playing full credit for getting me through this worst illness in decades, if ever. Chalk up one more great thing about playing the flute!’


Robert Dick.


  • Tom Moore says:

    I am working on getting as much time in as I (and my family can stand). Just in case…..

  • sam says:

    Oh God, please don’t give medical advice based on your personal experience and total ignorance of science.

    If deep breathing is all you need against the virus, then there should be no dead opera singers.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Robert, whom I happen to know, wasn’t giving advice, medical or otherwise. Or do you think that “play flute for 6 decades” is advice? I’m also positive that his credit to flute playing as his saviour was good-natured levity reflecting his relief at having survived. If only all of my friends had been so lucky.

    • James D. says:

      Deep, efficient breathing turns people into corona vacuum cleaners. Not advised.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Huh? This is bizarre. Generally speaking, having a large breath/lung capacity is likely to reduce your risk from death or serious illness from the virus.

    • Bruce says:

      Relax. This is like when they interview 100-year-olds who say that the secret to long life is a drink of whisky every evening. It’s not “medical advice.”

    • rose says:

      Sam, do you know Robert? Are you a flutist? Take a break!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    He survived and that’s great news. This is all we need to know.

  • Emily Skala says:

    The difference between flutists and singers is not how you take the air in, perhaps, but how you expel it; how it is utilized. And the quantity needed for a phrase on the flute exceeds that needed for the same phrase sung. It’s simply a different technique.

    • Gerry McDonald says:

      Actually a flute uses far less air than singing, due to the small embouchure. But enough of these medical technicalities. Let’s just rejoice that this great and pioneering artist has survived the illness and will hopefully be with us for a good few years yet!!!

  • Robert Dick says:

    Hey folks, I wasn’t giving medical advice or trying to. Thinking that is silly. Covid-19 was a horrible experience – I can’t remember ever being sicker. I did know, from medical people, that the greatest danger was the potential for fibrosis in the lungs and I was keeping very aware of whether it was becoming difficult to breathe or not. If I felt difficulty inhaling (as opposed to the awful COVID cough), I would have gone to hospital. Instead, with friends leaving food outside my apartment door, I soldiered through at home alone. Having the strength breathe deeply over long time durations
    surely was a help, but of course the real credit goes to my immune system, which battled COVID-19 and won unassisted by any drugs or external help. Having recovered, I was simply expressing my joy at being alive and well again. Surely that’s not a problem — is it?

  • Jill Rubio says:

    Thank goodness you’re okay, Robert! So glad you could breathe deeply—and I’m sure your lifetime of doing so was very helpful in overcoming this awful virus.

  • Jann K says:

    I’m so happy you’re well again!