Pandemic sax appeal. 

There’s been a lot of talk concerning face masks lately, with people discussing where to use them, when to use them, and if to use them. Here in Japan, however, a large majority of the population is masking up wherever and whenever possible, even at times when it might seem unnecessary or impractical.

One of those impractical occasions would be at band practice, when you’re a musician trying to use your mouth to play a wind instrument while all the other musicians around you are masking up.

Instruments like the saxophone, trumpet, flute, clarinet, or even the humble recorder all require unobstructed access to a human mouth to produce sound. So how can you get your lips near your instrument while wearing a mask?

▼ By using this new made-for-musicians mask from Japanese company Shimamura Music.

Tokyo-based Shimamura usually specialises in musical instruments, but seeing a need for masks for musicians, they teamed up with Gifu-based Technad, a manufacturer of silica gel products, to create the “Silica Clean Wind Instrument Compatible Antibacterial Deodorised Three-Dimensional Mask“.

Shimamura says they wanted to create a mask that allows musicians to enjoy playing music during the pandemic, while also helping them to respect the group environment where they’re required to play in close vicinity with other musicians. 

Now there’ll be no more deathly side-eyes from fellow musicians or audience members as this face covering has a slit for your lips to poke through, allowing you to keep your nose — and your mouth when you’re not using it — covered while you play.

The inside of the mask is covered with a special cloth containing silica, which keeps it deodorised while maintaining a suitable level of humidity for maximum comfort and breathability. Silver ions embedded in the fabric provide antibacterial protection and the shape of the mask provides a lot of room for movement as well, which is a plus for wind instrument players.

▼ When not being used during practice or performance, the slit in the mask can be covered up with a fabric attachment on the inside.

The mask comes in small and medium sizes, suitable for young children and adults, and there are three colour variations: white, light grey, and black.

The reusable mask will retail for 1,848 yen (US$17.31) at Shimamura Music stores nationwide and online. Available from 18 August, the mask will look right at home on your dresser beside your ramen face mask, which is a head-turner as well but considerably less practical, as it fogs up your glasses to make it look like you’re wearing a steaming hot bowl of noodles on your face.

Source, images: Shimamura Music 
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