Playing music with Japanese Mask from Shimamura Music
As many of you will know, in my spare time, I am a semi-pro musician (bassoon and piano) and before the Covid 19 pandemic, played in various orchestras within Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. I also used to play many years ago for Ashikaga orchestra (I still have the concert programmes with my katakana name in the programme). However, due to the pandemic, I spent 2 years not playing and sadly, having suffered health complications from Covid, have been very cautious about exposing myself to endless reinfections and was naturally quite cautious about playing in orchestras, especially since they had been linked to higher levels of transmission due to the blowing and air particles flying around (I blame the brass section!).
So I was so pleased to have discovered a mask designed by Shimamura music in Japan using silica technology aimed at woodwind players (there is a flap inside that allows for reeds to come through) and got my Japanese colleague/ex-student to send a couple over for me. I played my first concert with the professional ensemble 'Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra' to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year, playing one of my favourite pieces-Zadok the Priest. I am happy to report that a) I did not catch anything and b) I think the mask actually improved my playing as it really focussed the embrasure (although there were a few comments that I looked like Zippy!) See what you think from the pictures. I remember working with a colleague from Dentsu, who used to tell me about many new technological innovations concerning combatting Covid in Japan-maybe due to our different mentality on masks, there has not been much impetus to come up with such innovative solutions here but I am pleased there has been in Japan.