How to play flute when masked

How to play flute when masked


norman lebrecht

July 13, 2020

This is Chelsea Knox, principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, reminding New Yorkers tht there’s life after Covid.


  • Gustavo says:


    It doesn’t work with alto-flute or recorder.

    • Chris Isbell says:

      With the recorder, the mask can be fitted sideways over the head joint. This works on my alto recorder and has minimal effect on the sound.

      • Marg says:

        I dont see the issue with recorder (I am a player). Air goes down the tube (and we have a sealed embouchure) and if there is any aerosol in the tube by the time it gets to the end of an alto or tenor or bass recorder its headed to the floor. Soprano might be a bit more tricky being shorter and not pointed so low often. The flute is a problem because you dont blow into but across it.

  • Jeremy Wardle says:

    “..In her spare time she is an active visual artist and her work has been displayed in galleries in New York and Connecticut.”

  • Dennis says:

    No, she’s reminding everyone to submit to arbitrary government muzzling decrees that all life and joy and freedom must forever bow to the new God of Covid whom we must all worship in perpetual fear and paranoia.

    • Tom S. says:

      So you feel the mask requirements impinge on your freedom of choice. It has been well documented that the primary purpose of a mask is to stop the wearer from giving others the disease. So your choice is to have the freedom to give it to me. My choice is to wear a mask to help stop me giving it to you. So I will make an exception in your case…I will lift my mask and breathe on you excessively exercising my freedom of choice, if we ever meet. And BTW I am an out of work freelance musician who has lost about $60,000 work soley due to Covid.

      • Bruce says:

        I’m male and large, so I’m probably not likely to get any flak from strangers about wearing a mask; but if I do get any, I plan to pull my mask down and cough in their face. Bad manners, perhaps, but not illegal.

        (I probably wouldn’t actually do this, but it’s fun to think about)

    • Bill says:

      Is it arbitrary that the government makes us wear clothes in public as well?

      Just wear the mask, fool.

    • Hans-Dieter Glaubke says:

      Therefore, how many angels can seek refuge upon that proverbial, stimulating, pointed pin? Es könnte eine provokative Reise und mögliche Antwort sein.

    • Kathleen says:

      Dennis, please read one or both of these articles. One is a publication submitted for scientific review:
      The other is a news distillation of the information:

  • Joseph says:

    Air comes out of all the holes of the flute….just sayin’

    • Anonymoose says:

      Yes – wouldn’t like to be the player to her right!

      • Laurie Sokoloff says:

        While it’s true that some air escapes from the holes, and very, very little from the end of the flute (when playing the very lowest note only), the air escaping these places is of very slow velocity, and the droplets would fall to the ground before posing a serious risk from even prolonged exposure. Also Chelsea holds her flute at an angle, so air from these locations at most might motivate you to wash your hands. The main Covid danger area from flute playing is definitely straight ahead, and I think Chelsea has come up with a creative way to mitigate some of that.
        I’m presently retired, but it was my privilege to sit next to Chelsea for two seasons, and I would have been happy to do so again.

    • Gustavo says:

      And some flutes may contain body liquids.

    • Bruce says:

      In very tiny amounts. Most of the air a flute player uses goes across the blowhole, not into it. Having the mask in front, as pictured, would mean that she’s directing that extra air into the mask, although it’s not secured so of course there will be leakage. Probably helps somewhat.