Hong Kong propaganda video showing ‘double-masked’ flute players catches attention

27 September 2022, 17:53 | Updated: 28 September 2022, 10:31

Classic FM

By Classic FM

Released by Hong Kong’s Education Bureau, the video shows two schoolgirls playing the flute wearing what appear to be two overlapping masks.

A propaganda advert released by Hong Kong’s Education Bureau, which shows schoolchildren singing and playing musical instruments in masks, has sparked conversation around musical instruments and Covid-19.

Posted ahead of China’s National Day on 1 October, the video follows a newly announced period of Covid restrictions for Hong Kong, including the wearing of face masks.

More than 400 schoolchildren from 41 high schools were invited to participate in the video, titled Young China Says, which was released on 21 September.

Around the 45-second mark, two masked schoolgirls are seen playing a flute amongst an ensemble of traditional Chinese instruments. The pair are each wearing two face masks – the second, an additional flap to cover the instrument’s mouthpiece.

Some on social media have questioned the “level of masking”. In a now-deleted tweet, South China Morning Post correspondent Jeffie Lam said: “This city never fails to surprise me”, alongside the hashtag #maskingtilltheendoftheworld.

Read more: Someone is designing bespoke masks for brass and woodwind players to stay safe amid coronavirus

Two masked flute players in a Hong Kong propaganda video.
Two masked flute players in a Hong Kong propaganda video. Picture: Education Bureau of Hong Kong

A thread by former journalist Aaron Busch, who regularly posts news and Covid-19 updates on Twitter, begins: “That’s a spectacular level of masking. Hong Kong sure loves masks, that’s for sure.”

Musicians who play a transverse flute – like the one pictured in the video, which appears to be a Chinese dizi flute, or their metallic Western counterparts – blow air across the mouthpiece, meaning some droplets can escape at the mouthpiece. Contrastingly, a saxophonist or clarinettist would blow straight into their instrument to produce a sound.

During pandemic restrictions in the UK, some woodwind and brass players experimented with additional covers for the bells of their instruments, to catch additional emitted droplets. It was also recommended that brass and wind players remain two to three metres apart when playing on stage together.

Read more: Flautists should sit three metres away from other orchestra players, COVID study says

As of 27 September 2022, Hong Kong‘s mask mandate currently applies to most indoor and outdoor areas in public, and live music performances remain banned in venues that serve food or drink. While larger concert venues have been allowed to reopen, a survey by the Hong Kong Musicians Foundation found that many of their members were struggling with debt, and up to 13 percent reported having to sell their instruments in order to make ends meet.

Despite implementing further travel restrictions and social distancing rules, Hong Kong has struggled to keep coronavirus under control, and has seen nearly 10,000 deaths in a population of 7.4 million.