Gopher band returns with instrument wraps designed by Minnesota company

The Gopher marching band plays with wraps on their instruments so they can safely play together amid the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, live music ensembles had to put a grand pause on their playing. But, with the help of a Minnesota company, the notes are flowing from the University of Minnesota School of Music. 

It's all because of little pillow cases with hand holes and zippers that contain a musician’s air, which allows the groups to safely play together.

“I think over the summer, lots of different companies were just trying to find methods of how to wrap the instruments - what kind of fibers to use, what fabrics, what’s resistant, what’s going to impact just airflow to allow the music to come through the instrument,” said Professor Emily Threinen, the University of Minnesota director of bands.

A Minnesota company called Torpedo Bags helped them figure it out.

“It’s a little difficult for your hands sometimes to maneuver - sometimes the bag will get stuck in a key - but overall I think it works pretty well,” said Emily Brewer, a Doctor of Music Arts student.

The Gopher marching band is using them for all of their wind instruments to keep the musicians from spreading airborne germs. Like any new idea, they’re still making a few adjustments.

“It was originally a pocket, but it affects the sound too much, so we modified it to make it more of a sleeve,” said Nicholas White, a Master of Music student.

It’s a bit like adding different notes to a score to make the music and the musicians come together.

“Ensemble playing is such an important and important part of being an instrumentalist and being a musician,” said White. “And it allows us to scratch that itch in the safest format possible.”  

“The bottom line is our students are getting together, they’re playing together, they’re having the safest possible ensemble experience and that’s what it’s all about,” said Professor Michael Kim, the University of Minnesota director of the School of Music.