The Advocate

A newsletter for the music education community of Western PA

PPE for musicians

As we all know, 2020 brought about many changes in the way that we live and work due to Covid-19. This is no different for musicians. Many options are now available for musicians to play in a safer environment. These items allow the musicians to play with less of a chance of aerosol particles escaping into the air. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be more aware of some options that are available to you.


Face masks are now available with slits or other types of openings that allow a mouthpiece to go in while still providing the protection of the mask. These can be used by almost all woodwind and brass instruments and be effective.

Flute face masks are designed differently and provide a place for the flute head joint to slide into so that the performer can still play.
Bell covers are another common piece of PPE for musical instruments. They come in many different sizes and they go over the bell of the instrument. These are made in small sizes for woodwinds and larger sizes for brass - including trumpet, marching horn and baritone, trombone, and even tuba.
There are also two types of special bell covers for the French horn. The first has a slit in the center so that the hand can be inserted, and the second has a sleeve of extra material so that the hand and arm are covered and the hand can be inserted into the bell.
Woodwind instruments, because of their many keys, have several areas where water droplets can escape from the instruments. Instrument bags were invented to go over the entire instrument except for the mouthpiece. The right hand goes into an elastic opening for a secure fit, while the left hand goes into a loose opening so that the hand can be removed easily to allow for page turning and a quick reset of the hand. These are available for all woodwind instruments. When used in conjunction with a face mask and social distancing, they can provide a relatively safe way to play.

If you have any questions about any of these items, contact your local music dealer!

Resource for Music Teachers: Battling Burnout

On January 11th at 7pm, music educator and speaker Elisa Janson Jones will be presenting a workshop on self-care strategies for teachers. This online event is sponsored by the Conn-Selmer Institute and is FREE to attend! Register today!

JMC Spotlight: Jacob Wiggins Wins Spot In "Pershing’s Own"

Jacob Wiggins, a member of the repair department at Johnstonbaugh's Music Centers, recently won a position in Pershing’s Own. He will be a member of the Concert Band, one of nine performing groups in the organization. The United States Army Band, also known as "Pershing's Own", was founded in 1922 and is the premier musical organization of the United States Army.


Jacob was born in Louisiana, and moved to North Houston in Texas as a young child. He started playing horn in fifth grade at the age of 10. He chose horn because both of his brothers played trumpet and he wanted to play something different. Jacob graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 2010 and decided to study French Horn in college. He attended the University of Houston, where his two main teachers were Gavin Reed and Robert Johnson. Although he studied with these great horn teachers, he also credits a lot of what he learned to his brother Josh. Upon graduation, Jacob worked in a donut shop and gave private horn lessons until he came to Pittsburgh in 2018 to attend graduate school at Duquesne University.


While at Duquesne, he was a student of Mark Houghton, third horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony. In the fall of 2018, Jacob won the second horn job with the Canton Symphony in Canton, Ohio. He was awarded his Artist Diploma from Duquesne University in May 2020 and has been working, teaching privately, and freelancing in the Pittsburgh area since then.
Jacob learned of the opening for the Pershing's Own Concert Band this summer and began working on his audition tape. He found out in early September that he was accepted to attend a live audition on November 23rd. During the next few months, he took lessons from many horn teachers from around the country to help prepare for the live audition.


The audition day finally arrived. He went to Washington, D.C. for the audition and discovered that he was one of nine horn players that had been asked to come to the live audition. In the first round, all nine candidates were asked to play excerpts that had been assigned. Five of the players were invited to the second round where they were asked to play more excerpts, a solo work, and to do some sight reading. After this round, there were only two remaining candidates for the position - Jacob and a friend of his from Texas. During the final round, they were asked to play excerpts and to also play along with a current member of the horn section to see how well they blended and played together. After this, Jacob emerged as the victor.


What’s next? Jacob got his working contract on December 9th and he will ship out to basic training on January 26th. Once he is in basic training, he will not be able to play his horn until the end of April. He will then move to Washington, D.C. and become a full time member of the Concert Band. Congratulations to Jacob and good luck with your new job!

FREE Online Concert from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Friday, Jan. 22nd, 7:30pm

This is an online event.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is offering FREE virtual concerts. The next event in the series, entitled "For the People," features works from five influential female composers. More information can be found here.

Tell us what you think.

This newsletter is for you! If there is something that you wish to know more about or have questions about, please let us know. We will do our best to get you the information you need.
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Issued January 6, 2021

Newsletter by Dennis Emert and Allyson Huneycutt