Dentist: You need braces.
Patient (me): *GASPS*
It seems simple and irrelevant to most people. Small pieces of metal and wires to pull your teeth into a straighter position which happens to hundreds of people across the world everyday. But the first thing I thought of was how it would impact playing the flute. It seemed daunting, at first. I imagined frustration for months as I’d be carried back to where I started. Holding my first hire flute as I struggled to even make a sound. It was especially scary because of how far I had come. I was just about to take my Grade 6 exam at the time when I was just told I needed them, so I wouldn’t need to worry about having them just put on when I’m taking the exam.
But still! It’s the future I worried about. What if they completely changed my mouth and the way they reacted to the flute? What if they ruin my tone which I have worked on for years? What if they completely obstruct the air flow and I cam never play the flute again? I asked myself so many questions and it took me time to even decide whether I would go through with getting braces. But, because of a complicated situation with some missing roots, I decided that I needed to get braces.
I’m writing this blog a few days after getting braces so I can give you the best explanation about my thoughts of braces and how they have impacted my flute playing. So let me give you all the details. When I first got them on, they obviously felt quite uncomfortable and naturally, I had to bring my lips over them and around them because having braces is an extra part of your mouth which changes your stance originally. In addition, I only had minor pains which weren’t really an issue. So, when I first picked up my flute, I brought my lips further forward and positioned myself into my normal mouth position for playing and I simply tried it. These were my first impressions:
- Oh my god I can actually make a fairly decent sound!!
- And with a decent high and low register
- Quite an airy sound which isn’t quite my normal quality of tone.
At first I was very happy with the position I was in, because I found it quite easy to get a good range of notes out. So that was a good start! But I have advice of how to get the best notes out of the flute with braces and in the shortest amount of time.
CHANGE YOUR LIP POSITION: Before you get braces, look on you tube at videos of how to play the flute with braces. I found some good ones which demonstrate lip positions and the way you should place your mouth according to your braces. When playing the flute with braces, you have an extra obstruction in your mouth which means you need to bring your lips round and over the braces and then back into your “original flute playing position.” This is an essential, because otherwise, the air will just be blocked by your braces which you breathe in and you will be left with an airy sound.
KEEP YOUR MOUTH TIGHT: When you have your slightly adapted mouth position, I found that it helped improve the tone of the sound if you ensure your lips are outstretched and tight because it will create higher pressure and a more defined and clean sound. However, you should only think about doing this one you can get a good sound out of your flute with braces.
DON’T OVERWORK YOURSELF: When you are trying to get notes out of the flute with braces, you probably won’t get you original and best sound first time. This can be frustrating, especially when you are a higher grade flautist who is used to good tone and a solid sound. So don’t pick up your Grade 6,7 or 8 flute book and try to play the most difficult piece! You need to start simple and get used to easier pieces again so you can become familiar with the notes and how they should sound with your braces. Then, work your way back up. When you pace yourself, it won’t take long.
PERSEVERE: Your best sound won’t come instantly! You need to keep practising and then you will get a decent sound with your braces.
I hope you find this advice useful if you are getting braces and you play the flute! please feel free to ask any questions about the flute and braces in the comments and please tell me if there’s anything you specifically want me to write about!
Thank you for reading! 🙂