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To return safely to church, musician thinks ‘inside’ the box

The music director at St. Joseph Parish in East Rutherford will be able to play on during Mass thanks to some innovative adjustments meant to keep COVID-19 aerosols away.

Diana Belkowski is considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19, so she purchased two drum shield kits—6-foot-tall acrylic panels topped with angled deflectors—to keep her safe from sneezes on one side and the choir's singing exhalations on the other.

"The only way I was going to be able to return to work at all was in a bubble," Belkowski said. “So, I actually created somewhat of a way to do it.”

She got some help from her son, Carlin, who helped assemble the deflectors.

Belkowski said it’s somewhat loud in there when she performs. She compensates by playing softly and letting the microphone carry the piano sounds.

“There's no problem hearing from inside or outside with our good sound system and cathedral acoustics," she said.

The shield is nearly invisible, which is a plus when it comes to aesthetics. It’s also important for the other performers to be able to see her musical cues.