Guest Blog: Tuning in With Antimicrobials to Find the Perfect Harmony

December 11, 2023

Content by Microban International

From the Vikings to the Victorians, and the ancient Egyptians to modern Europeans, music has existed across all of society and throughout all documented history. Today, we know that learning to play a musical instrument can be a key aspect of a child’s development by enhancing motor skills and imagination.

Many of us can vividly remember the recorder lessons that we – and maybe our parents – endured through elementary school. Perhaps you recall fighting to be the first to grab a, shall we say, well-loved instrument with deep, tooth-mark battle wounds, then blasting out your best rendition of “Yankee Doodle” loud and proud, before passing the recorder around so everyone gets a turn.

Right now, ‘tis the season for enjoying—possibly enduring—various holiday recitals and concerts, and Microban products are quietly and invisibly working to keep instrument mouthpieces microbe free.

Unfortunately, a quick wipe of the mouthpiece on a school shirt does very little to prevent microbes from multiplying. For example, one study showed they can live for up to 48 hours on reeds1 (a part of the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments), and another discovered they are regularly found on areas away from the mouthpiece.2

Keeping cleaning practices sharp

Most people already know it’s important to clean instruments on a regular basis by using either alcohol, soap or commercial disinfectants,1 to remove the biofilm that acts as a breeding ground for microbes2 – especially if passed from person to person during after-school clubs or band practice. But these labor-intensive processes provide only a short-term solution and are often overlooked by school children and professional musicians alike. This leaves microorganisms free to take advantage of a perfect environment for growth.

Another approach that can help to supplement regular cleaning is to incorporate built-in antimicrobial product protection into the instrument before it gets into the perhaps unwashed hands of a budding young performer.

Hitting the right note

Antimicrobials can either be integrated into products at the point of manufacture or later be added as coatings that adhere to surfaces. These technologies can be applied to almost any material that instruments, and their common touch points, are made of – from wooden reeds to metal components – to help improve product durability and protect materials from stains, odors, and premature degradation.

However, there is now an increasing market for lighter, brightly colored, more cost-effective instruments made entirely from plastic. These materials may be easier to clean than other more porous materials, but can be just as susceptible to microbial growth, especially in high-touch zones and areas exposed to saliva.

The perfect partner for a duet

Our technologies have been stringently tested in world-class laboratories for their efficacy in helping to reduce the build-up of microbes and are verified in countless applications. Integrating antimicrobials into plastics and other materials, especially into injection-molded parts, is a seamless process for industry leading companies like Microban International. Additionally, they neither alter aesthetics nor impact musical performance since they become an intrinsic part of the product; they also won’t wear away or flake off and disperse into the environment – which has broader ecological implications – in the way traditional cleaning products might.

Built-in antimicrobial product protection from Microban International, when combined with recommended cleaning practices, can help to increase resilience, and keep instruments cleaner between cleanings – even when they are in storage and not being used. This provides parents with extra peace of mind, knowing their blossoming star’s bugle can include 24/7 protection, even when it has been put aside in a moment of temper because that high octave triplet in the middle section is so hard to master.

With antimicrobial products, parents are safe in the knowledge that when their mini-Mozart finally decides to play again, our technology has been working the whole time. Children, parents, teachers, and musicians alike can be reassured that the instruments they pick up are protected from the damaging effects of microbes, so they can focus on the cleansing harmonies that only music can provide.