(updated June 10, with more thoughts about a flute end cap!)

The title of this post gives it away. My friend Lisa Danforth has a prototype of a mask–with activated carbon filter–that may help flute players mitigate risk of virus transmission while playing.

With her permission, I’m attaching plans below. Please note that her copyright ensures that instructions remain free for people’s personal use.

Before sharing Lisa’s plans, I must mention that as of May 30th, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts still has lots of Covid-19 cases. Of course, there are places in the world in phases ahead of us, in terms of reopening. But here, at least, it feels reckless to me to meet up to play tunes (or just hang out and drink wine) at the moment. Even if we’re “six feet away.”

Because well, people seem a little conflicted on what six feet really looks like. And maybe a loud-talking, spit-spraying person (or flute player) should really stay farther away. There is still no cure, no vaccine, and testing is still not universal (or foolproof).

To this, my friend John pointed out “If we have to wait for a vaccine and/or a cure before we can start playing flute with others again, it could be a very long wait. How many decades has it been, and there’s still no vaccine or cure for HIV? We will need to rely on other solutions like distancing and masking, even if they aren’t perfect.”

He’s got a point. And also, people ARE meeting up anyway. And I get it.  I get that there are risks and perils to continued social isolation, too.

He’s got another point, that we need to rely/insist on distancing and mask wearing. Lisa’s mask is a step toward normalizing mask wearing, which is common in many other places in the world. All over Asia, people wear masks when they are sick to protect OTHER PEOPLE. That’s what the mask is all about. Even if YOU feel fine, you might be carrying Covid-19. And if you’re a mask-less virus carrier, you are really imposing your “play the odds game” on other people.

So, if you’re one of the flute players who IS meeting up in gardens… or even in pubs or folk clubs… maybe Lisa’s mask can keep the players around you a little safer.

And/or, as Lisa says, “perhaps it will be a springboard for someone to come up with an even more robust design. And at the very least, it will be helpful in windy conditions when playing outside!”

Personally, I will NOT be meeting up with folks in person anytime soon. I live in a higher risk area. And I rely on my respiratory system for my job as flute player/singer. I don’t want to take chances. But I’m playing around with the flute mask, trying to get used to it INSIDE. With my own family unit.

I am grateful for technology that allows connection with a bigger international group during the Saturday Virtual Session my husband Matt and I run on Saturdays. (2-3pm Eastern time, for players learning Irish music who want to play mid-tempo tunes on first or second instruments). It’s been so uplifting to do this!


And I look forward to future meet ups with folks. Wherever in the world that might be!

For future hopefulness, Lisa’s mask makes me happy. My thanks to her for dreaming up and sharing a solution. For doing something. Here’s the design below.

And it might be even more potent with John’s condensation hack: to get around the problem of condensation dripping from the end of the flute, he covers the foot end of the flute loosely with a paper towel and a rubber band!