A Wellness special feature: Infection Control in the Music Studio, Part 1: Hand Hygiene

Infection Control in the Music Studio, Part 1:  Hand Hygiene

The bright red and white poster in the outpatient hospital corridor caught my eye.  It was a publication of Advocate Christ Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Institute.

The question across the top read: “What are the Top 10 ways to Spread Germs?”

I began ticking some off in my mind:  touching people and things, breathing them in, eating contaminated food or water, insect bites.  So far so good, but that was only four ways, and I had already covered most of the general ways infection spreads.

Well, it must have been a trick question.

The answer was the poster’s diagram of two red hands spread flat with the fingers separated and numbered from 1-10.  The ten fingers are the germ spreaders.

The diagram reminded me of the diagram I have new piano students trace around their fingers and then number in the musical way, 1-5 from thumbs to little fingers.  Ten fingers itching to make beautiful music, but here is a familiar reminder for caution before rushing to touch the keyboard.

The message printed boldly below the diagram read:


Hand Hygiene is the #1 Way to Prevent the Spread of Infections

Why is this so?  It is because the vast majority of infections are spread by our own ten fingers.  Our hands are the biggest players in spreading infectious disease anywhere and this is also true in our music studios and practice rooms, which are public places.

Consider how many different schools all your students represent. In my studio, a sample of only ten students represents seven different schools. That situation provides a very large pool of potential germs which can be transferred to my studio, to me, and to other students simply by touching commonly shared surfaces such as keyboards, music scores, tables, games, pencils, and bathroom facilities.

Best Response:   Require hand cleansing methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing.

Wash hands Using Liquid Soap and Water:        

  • When your hands are greasy, or visibly dirty—rub for 20 seconds
  • After using the bathroom
  • Before music lessons and between students (adapted for music studios)
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose (in the middle of a lesson)
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth (body entry points for germs)
  • Before preparing or eating food  (at recitals, other gatherings, and meals)
  • Air dry hands or use paper towel and discard into hands-free wastebasket

Use an Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer:

  • When your hands are not greasy or visibly dirty—rub hands until dry
  • If soap and water are not available

Safety Notes about Soaps and Sanitizers:

  1. Use liquid soap rather than bar soap since bar soap can harbor germs.
  2. Use plain (not antibacterial) soap and water.  It is effective in killing germs.
  3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned triclosan, the active ingredient in liquid antibacterial soap effective September, 2017 due to safety issues and no proof that it was more effective than plain soap in preventing spread of infections. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378393.htm.
  4. Hand sanitizer does not kill all bacteria and viruses, and does not remove   pesticides and heavy metals like lead (extension cords).  Use soap and water.
  5. Alcohol-type hand sanitizer must dry on hands to be most effective (20 seconds).
  6. The FDA requires alcohol-based hand sanitizers to be at least 60% alcohol.
  7. Hand sanitizer is poisonous if ingested; keep out of reach of young children

Visit the CDC handwashing website for information https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing. For appropriate handwashing posters, click on “More…”; “Health Promotion Materials”; “Fact Sheets” or “Posters.”

 Infection Control Policy Tips for your Music Studio

  1.  Require handwashing (or sanitizing) before all lessons and recitals.
  2.  At new student interviews, give a handwashing demonstration and watch a student return the demonstration as the very first order of business together.
  3.  Require sick students (fever, chills, distress without fever) to stay home and wait 24 hours after the end of a fever in order to prevent the spread of germs and a relapse of illness. The infection is harder to cure the second time around.

                           Handwashing is IN & Infection is OUT

Make an Investment in Your Health and the Health of Your Students


Posted 1/15/17 by Dora Diephouse, ISMTA Wellness Chair