Why You May Have Misunderstood Singers Masks and the Aerosol Study

Special Update!

From myself, along with Robin and Jon at MyMusicFolders

Colorado STATE Testing: We were given the opportunity in early July to send prototypes to Colorado State aerosol lab for testing, and those results were published, along with several others, as part of their interactive mask effectiveness charts, and people continue to reference those results. Again, those published results contained tests on our PROTOTYPE Mask.  When we realized that their published comparison charts declared that “ALL Singers’ masks” performed badly, we entered in to several conversations with Dr. John Volckens and more often his assistant, who actually conducted the tests, Dr. Christian L’Orange. We made changes or improvements in the RESONANCE Mask fabric choices and construction as a direct result of those tests.

Short Update About Singers Masks

More info here

We continued to improve our mask by adding the sewn-in polypropylene filter layer beginning with October production.  Unfortunately, the prototype Resonance test results were  permanently published in their charts and embedded in the Music & Performing Arts video broadcasts. Dr. L’Orange has assured us that when they update their Colorado State Lab website, they will include the more recent test results of our actual production Resonance masks, but since their website update has been delayed several times (they are busy working on air exchange measurements for classrooms now) they offered to take down the specific results for our prototype mask for now.

Me in the original prototype

They agreed that leaving those results up were causing mis-information to continue to be distributed.  Filtration is important, but equally important is how the Mask FITs: Simply stated, the Colorado State aerosol labs’ test is for filtration only. There are 2 masks that specifically “look great” in their tests, that do not function nearly as safely as one might assume, as the fit of the mask is loose & in-secure on the face as well as made of a difficult to breathe through neoprene material (TMF Vocal Performance mask) , or in one instance (The NOTEable Mask), instructs the wearer to be certain to leave “2 fingers’ width open at the bottom of the chin”. The NOTEable mask is constructed of such tightly woven material that to actually breathe through the fabric is very challenging, thus the need to allow air passage up from the bottom. 

There are some important factors one needs to consider when choosing a mask for SINGING that differ from considerations for a daily use mask. The mask must fit closely to the face, without moving/slipping/dislodging from the face when engaging the face and mouth in complete width of movement necessary for a healthy singers’ vocal production. The mask must provide “breathability” – early on, the recommendations were to find “tightly woven cotton” and very tightly woven or extruded fibers (such as neoprene) in fact do prevent aerosol transmission, but can be extremely difficult to breathe in, especially when singing. We now know that several layers of more breathable fabrics can provide very good or better protection without impeding breathing.

The mask should be able to accommodate “double-masking” either by adding further filters or by being able to fit securely over a second mask in order to protect against the newer more transmissible Covid virus variations. Even though we added the silver-infused polypropylene filter layer sandwiched between the cover fabric and the lining, we continued to offer the additional disposable filters as an option, and always include 3 in every mask package. Those additional filters are a 3 layer non-woven melt blown polypropylene that we have 3rd party tested each production. Those filters have come back consistently at over 95% filtration efficiency. (Note the Colorado State Lab tests only the mask, not the optional disposable filter.) Using our 3-layer resonance mask with the additional filter should give even higher filtration protection.

Performers using various singers masks seem to prefer either ours or the Broadway Relief mask. Between these 2 masks, the RESONANCE Mask is better fitted – no gaping at the edges of the cheeks, fits snugly beneath the chin, and the silicone lining under the wide cheek-nose-cheek moldable wire really secures the Resonance mask to the face. The main complaints about the Broadway mask that I hear is that their nose wire is very stiff and difficult to adjust, and that the BR mask cannot be wet-laundered, only sprayed with disinfectant for sanitization.

I attach the most recent results from Colorado State regarding the RESONANCE Singers mask. Jon has created an overlay with these results within the graph Colorado State provides on their current website.  The RESONANCE Mask results are the dashed lines (these are 3 separate test – results) and you can observe that our mask is more protective than the Broadway mask (even without  our extra filter) at the lower levels of aerosol transmissions.

Lastly, our Resonance singers’ mask is used by the Colorado State University choirs, after consultation with the testing lab. We know this because their choral director, Dr. Gregory Gentry, spoke with us more than once throughout their Singers Mask selection process, although his University has advised against him actually “endorsing” us – I think they – Colorado officials – are worried about liability.
Second attachment is the current certification at 97% avg. efficiency filtration of the disposable bio-filters that we provide for use with the masks. 

Episode 58: Telling the Story of American Choral Singing

With Dr. Jerry Blackstone, Matthew Workman and Brian Gaukel

Have you heard about this yet?! What an exciting project this is. My three guests for this episode have teamed up to create a monumental expression of what choral singing means to us here in the United States. “CHORAL SINGING IN AMERICA: NURTURING THE AMERICAN SOUL.”

So Jerry, Matt, Brian and I hooked up to discuss the behind the scenes scoop on how how this project came together and where it’s headed. You will definitely want to hear this story and continue to follow it closely over the next year. I believe the end result will be something we can all be proud of.

Episode 58

Learn More about the Film


Brian Gaukel, Filmmaker

Jerry Blackstone, Artistic Director

Matthew Workman, Executive Producer


This documentary series gives voice to choral singing in America, the roots from which it grew, and what so many have felt for generations: in times of division and challenge, joy and sadness, heartache and ecstasy, life is better when we sing and even better when we sing together.

Donate to the Project!

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Episode 57: Working Between Worlds with Reena Esmail

The Oxford Series on the Choralosophy Podcast!

Reena Esmail is currently the composer in residence for the LA Master Chorale and the composer of TaReKiTa published by Oxford University Press. Reena works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces and holds degrees from Juilliard and Yale. In this engaging discussion, I had the opportunity not only to help you get to know Reena, but also to get her perspective on many critical issues facing the classical music community. We discussed:

  • The beauty of working with organizations that truly value relationships
  • Reena’s criteria for accepting commissions
  • Indians/South Asians representation in Western classical music
  • The distinction between the organizational level conversations about representation and the interpersonal
  • Working with both Western and Indian classical music styles
  • How it’s exhausting when there’s always a qualifier in front of your name

And much more! This was a VERY fun conversation! So be sure to tune in!

Episode 57


Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail holds degrees from The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. A resident of Los Angeles, Esmail is the 20-23 Swan Family Artist in Residence with Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the 20-21 Composer in Residence with Seattle Symphony. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of New Music USA, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting musical traditions of India and the West.

And don’t forget, the show is now on PATREON! Subscribe and receive Patron only content for as little as 3 bucks a month!

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Car Thoughts: I Think We Dis the Super Bowl Music Because We’re Jealous

I said what I said.

The hot topic this week has been choir snobbery online in regards to pop music, or commercial music. I think this is an important topic, but as always, I have my own little angle that might be different than most. It could be that telling people what they must support can be just as elitist as not supporting things. I will call it “Preference Policing.” So, where is the line?

Maybe. But it could also be that we’re just jealous…

Car Thoughts

Car Thoughts: Why Conversations Online End Badly

I saw a few posts from colleagues recently that seemed to lament our inability to have good discussions among people who disagree online. The first problem: we aren’t actually having discussions anymore…

The best conversations I’ve ever had with colleagues have been in the bar at conventions. Or on my show!

Car Thoughts: Feb 5
Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.