Number of Participants: 2
Hours Donated: 10
Value of Time Served: $169
Event Type: Schools
Date: February 25, 2021
Two sisters in the Hicksville School District are stepping up to help their peers in the music program stay safe. Samantha Mason (10th grade) and Lauren Mason (seventh grade) designed masks specifically for students who play the flute and donated them to the district. Being flute players themselves, the sisters wanted an extra layer of protection from the COVID-19 virus during band class and that’s how they came up with the idea.
Since COVID-19 is transmitted typically through respiratory droplets, it greatly affects music classes. Before schools reopened in September, New York state guidelines said music students had to be at 12-feet apart from one another, as opposed to the six-feet requirement in other classrooms. The Hicksville Music Department also followed the recommendation of creating bell covers for brass instruments, adding extra safety measures for students. But playing the flute follows a different mechanic, with most of the air coming from the mouthpiece. The instrument doesn’t allow for a bell cover, making it challenging to create something that would cover the face but also allow a flute player to play.
Samantha and Lauren knew there was a solution. They saw flute masks online, but they retailed around $28 each, which was not cost-effective, nor feasible to ask students to purchase on their own. The Mason sisters realized they could make them and donate them to their peers. They started by creating a template for the fabric, shaped like a football, then sewed the masks together while leaving a slit on the side to slide the flute in. This way, when a flute player exhales, the mask is able to expand squarely around one’s face, limiting particles from escaping. Lauren first tried out the mask in her middle school band class and when it proved to be successful the sisters created enough for each of the 78 in-person flute players in the district, plus a few extra.
Not only did Samantha and Lauren create the masks to help others, they also wanted to make sure the pandemic wouldn’t stop them from playing music and following their passion.
“Lauren and I have been playing the flute since fourth grade, so I’ve been playing for six years and her for three. That’s basically what we do in our free time is practice for auditions, or NYSSMA or All-State, so it’s more important that we play constantly and keep it going,” said Samantha.
The sisters took the extra step of individually packaging each mask, including a card with instructions on how to use, wash and wear them. The Hicksville School District is extremely grateful for their contribution to students in the music program and recognizes their altruistic nature.
“They have a wonderful supportive family and they’ve had wonderful and supportive teachers throughout their life, in particular music teachers, who have gotten them to the point where they are thinking about safety, they are thinking about what’s going on in the present, but they’re also thinking about others,” said Hicksville Supervisor of Fine Arts Chad Wyman.
- Sisters Samantha (left) and Lauren (right) posed with their individually packaged masks for all in-person flute players in the Hicksville School District
- Lauren said creating the masks was not a simple task. There were about 10 to 12 steps to make each one.
- Samantha said designing and bringing the masks to life became a family project. Her mom has a home economics degree which helped them with production.
4-5. Sisters Lauren (left) and Samantha (right) designed and created masks to allow flute players to play while still wearing a face covering.
Photos courtesy of the Hicksville School District