Braces And Beats: Ways To Cope With Braces While Playing A Brass Instrument
August 1, 2017
Emma Sturgis in Advice, Music, brass, brass instruments

Learning that you need to get braces can be devastating for anyone who plays a trumpet, trombone or other brass instrument, and many people worry that their orthodontics will force them to give up playing. The truth is that it is definitely still possible to play a brass instrument with braces, but you do need to be prepared to experience a bit of pain and plenty of playing difficulties at first. Nonetheless, by following these simple tips, you should find it much easier to cope with your braces and ensure that they don’t keep you from playing.

Protect Your Lips

As anyone with braces is surely aware, all of that metal in your mouth can easily cut up your gums and cause you all kinds of pain. This can especially be a problem for those who play a brass instrument as pursing your lips and applying all that air pressure means band practice has the potential to leave your mouth bloody. For this reason, it’s usually recommended to use brace protectors or dental wax to protect your lips until you get used to playing with braces.

If you do end up with a cut, you’ll want to stop playing until the cut begins to heal in order to avoid causing permanent damage to your lips that could affect your playing ability. Even if you don’t experience cuts, you’re still likely to experience increased pain for the first few weeks. In this case, taking an aspirin and applying ice packs to your lips should help to make the pain more manageable.

Practice Your Embouchure

In order to prevent your mouth from being cut, you’ll need to learn to apply less pressure with your lips. The fact that you now have braces means you’ll be forced to change your embouchure, i.e. the way you apply your mouth to the mouthpiece. Unfortunately, making an embouchure change isn’t always easy, and in some ways, it means you will need to retrain your mouth muscles and learn how to play all over again. Since embouchure changes can be quite tough for novice or intermediate players, it is highly recommended that you hire a private teacher to help you make the change effectively.

Discuss Your Options With A Dentist

If you don’t yet have braces, it is well worth discussing your options with a dentist or orthodontist. A professional dental clinic, like All About Smiles, may be able to recommend alternatives to braces that can allow you to continue to play without worry. Alternatively, a dentist may also be able to recommend solutions for dealing with the pain and preventing your braces from interfering with your playing.

Don’t Get Discouraged

No matter how well you try to prepare yourself, getting braces will most definitely affect your ability to play at least in the short term. Although you will need to change your embouchure and find a new way to play without pain or cuts, there is no reason you can’t get through the challenge of braces and come out a better player because of it. The key is to not let yourself get discouraged. It might take some time before you find yourself able to play as well as you did before the braces. Still, as long as you continue to practice and don’t let yourself get discouraged, there is no reason why your braces have to prevent you from becoming the best brass player you can be.

Anyone facing the prospect of getting braces is right to worry about how it will affect their ability to play a brass instrument. The fact is that braces will obviously affect your playing at first. However, you can easily overcome any problems simply by remaining dedicated and remembering what drove you to play in the first place. As long as you stay positive and continue to practice, getting braces should prove to be only a temporary, minor setback.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/).
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