Over the past few weeks, due to the health emergency for COVID-19, we have received many questions from harpists and harp teachers on the most useful methods for sanitizing a Salvi harp. The transmission of COVID-19 is mainly due to direct contact with an infected person or through droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing. However, it cannot be entirely ruled out that contagion may also occur through contact with an object on which the virus has settled. The cleansing and sanitizing of the harp are therefore recommended especially in the event that a given instrument is shared with other harpists – as in the case of a harp class – or entered into contact with other people, other than those who normally play that instrument, and those people could be carriers of the virus.
THE GOLDEN RULE
As specialist studies have shown and the World Health Organization confirms and recommends, the main rule of prevention of contagion from any type of virus is hand hygiene. Before and after coming into contact with the harp, hands must be washed thoroughly with soap and water, scrubbing scrupulously for at least 40 seconds, or sanitized with a common disinfectant gel with a minimum alcohol base of 60%.
Also avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose before and after playing the harp.
THE BODY OF THE HARP
Most of the products that sanitize from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases could damage the finish of a Salvi harp. We therefore advise against the use of alcohol, bleach, ammonia, or other sanitizing products.
We recommend carrying out a normal cleaning of the instrument, using a soft cotton or microfiber cloth, dry or slightly moistened with soapy water. If you use a damp cloth, quickly dry the instrument after cleaning. The cleaning thus performed can remove a virus in whole or in part from the surface of the harp but does not kill it. We therefore recommend that you do not use the same cloth for cleaning other objects as it may carry the virus on them. Discard the used cloth immediately after cleansing the harp or sanitize it immediately after immersion in denatured alcohol at 90 °. For the cleaning of the harp, however, we refer to what is specified in the USER AND MAINTENANCE GUIDE.
SALVI HARPS MOUNT BOW BRAND STRINGS
We consulted Bow Brand International Ltd regarding string sanitation methods to prevent CO-VID-19 infection and other viral respiratory diseases. At this proposition Bow Brand stated:
“It seems that hand sanitizer has no harmful impact on our strings. The disinfectant gel we tested contains 68% alcohol. Even with copious amounts of gel, the strings did not react. In addition, with a gel-impregnated cloth, the strings dried very quickly due to the alcoholic strength.”
For this reason, whenever you deem it necessary, clean the strings with a gel hand sanitizer found commonly on the market. We always recommend doing this if the harp has been played previously by someone else. Use a soft or microfiber cloth to apply the gel. It is not necessary to rub repeatedly or vigorously: the mere contact with the gel kills viruses and bacteria and a too energetic or prolonged friction could however affect the finish of the gut strings.
The survival time of the virus on surfaces is subject to discussion and uncertainty, but according to the World Health Organization website, studies suggest that it can range from 4 to 72 hours depending on the surfaces. As an additional precautionary measure, if possible, you can consider “quarantining” the harp for 72 hours from the moment your instrument may have had contact with the virus.
FOR HARP TEACHERS
The problem is more complex in music schools where the influx of students and the frequent sharing of musical instruments between students and teachers increases the risk of virus transmission. It should also be emphasized that the potential transmission vehicle is not only the harp itself, but the accessories that surround it: trolleys for transporting the harp, transport covers, dust covers, tuning keys, stools, lecterns and sheet music. As much as possible, it is necessary to avoid that multiple people come into contact with the same objects (for example do not share the same key to tune, recommend each student bring their own from home) and take care to sanitize – or quarantine for as long as possible – not only the harp but also all accessories if there is a risk that they may have been infected. Naturally, compliance with the anti-infection protocols adopted by the various schools and the now well-known general prevention rules also apply. We certainly recommend respecting the minimum distances between students and teachers – not less than one meter and possibly more – wearing and having a mask worn during lessons, washing your hands thoroughly for at least 40 seconds or sanitizing them with a disinfectant gel before and after playing.
For other general information regarding prevention from COVID-19, we recommend consulting the information provided by qualified institutional bodies such as the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.