The COVID-19 pandemic prompted creative products to reduce aerosol spread, especially for the flute. Some products restrict air coming from the headjoint while others contain air escaping from tone holes, but flutist Rose Johnson’s Flute Boot focuses on mitigating air through the footjoint.
Johnson says she refused to accept that musicians would need to stop playing publicly. “Since COVID-19 turned our musical world upside down, wind players are seeking hope to be able to maintain their musical endeavors,” says Johnson, a performer, teacher, and founder of the Collaborative Musicians’ Project.
Hoping to find solutions, Johnson embarked on her own mission to find out more about how and where air spreads from the flute when playing. She set up a candle in her studio and says she was surprised to find that air from the footjoint alone extinguished the flame. As part of her at-home research, she fashioned a device out of a linen scarf and a bottle cap ring to fit over the footjoint. Playing her flute with this prototype on, she couldn’t extinguish the candle.
After she posted videos of the product online, the College Band Directors National Association contacted Johnson wanting to include the Flute Boot in its aeresol study. Texas Tech University and Rollins College also studied the Flute Boot, and it has proven successful at mitigating aerosols emitting from the end of the flute, Johnson says. “The effectiveness of the device is so important to me,” she says. “I don’t want people risking spreading illness with just any device on the end of their flutes.”
The final, patent-pending product has two layers of cotton and a filter between them. Johnson says that the design won’t influence intonation in the low register. Proceeds from the Flute Boot will go to not-for-profit flute organizations. Visit rvjstudio.com/flute-boot to purchase.