Tips On Playing The Trumpet With Braces

Posted on: 16 September 2015

For teens who love to play the trumpet, being fitted with braces can be a real downer!  How on earth can you still play your beloved instrument with all that metalwork on your teeth?  Well, the good news is, you can!  Here are some tips to help you to keep hitting those perfect notes, braces notwithstanding!

Modify your embouchure technique

Unfortunately, if you wear braces, you'll have to modify your embouchure in order to accommodate them.  You need to create a cushion of muscle between the brace wires and the mouthpiece of your trumpet.  This will protect the inside of your lips from damage from the wires of your brace whilst still allowing you to maintain good tone. 

To do this, without moving the corner placement on your mouthpiece, purse your lips.  This action will relieve the pressure on the brace wires and save you from pain and injury whilst playing.  This technique is undoubtedly easier if you have naturally thick lips, but it can be mastered by anyone with a little practice.

Change your practice routine

Now that you've changed your embouchure, your muscle memory will be different and you'll find that your practice routine must change to reflect that. 

Begin by playing long notes and soft tones at very low volume.  It might take you a while to get the feel of your mouthpiece again, but keep practising until you find a spot that's comfortable and works well.  Stick with the lower range of the stave at this stage and practice slurs.  Slurs are great for helping you to develop better flexibility while you get used to the strange feel of the braces.

Your braces may also disrupt your tonguing technique.  Try using your tongue on the bottom edge of your teeth, instead of on the roof of your mouth.  This helps to avoid any retainers or wires that might sit behind your teeth.  Aim for the cleanest articulation you can manage with the least possible tongue movement.

Keep your practice sessions short.  Even if you only manage 10 minutes to start with, don't overdo it.  This will allow your mouth to get used to the new way of doing things without causing you pain or overusing your muscles.

Appliances

Some people who play with braces find that using an appliance helps them.  There are various forms of guards, pads, waxes and strips available from music shops that are all designed to protect your lips from the brace wires while you play.  It's really a case of trial and error until you find something that suits you, but one aid that's very effective is a pad you can make yourself.

You'll need a small piece of denture polymer material and some dental adhesive powder, (available from your dentist).  Cut a narrow strip of polymer so that it fits in front of your bottom teeth.  This works by getting rid of the overbite caused by wearing braces on your top teeth.  If you find it more comfortable, you could also fit a strip of denture polymer over your top teeth to act as a cushion.  Fix the polymer to your teeth using the dental adhesive powder.  When you've finished playing, just gently peel away the strips.

In conclusion

Don't let your braces hamper your trumpet playing!  Make a few adaptations to your playing technique, adjust your practice routine until your muscles strengthen-up and perhaps try using an appliance for comfort. For more tips, or to find any appliances that may be helpful, you may want to visit a local music store, like The Music Place

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