The Instrumentalist

Articles June 2019

Adjusting to Braces


Advice for students struggling to adapt to braces and play the flute.

I am 12 years old. I have been playing flute for 3 years and I am currently working on Suzuki Book 6. I recently got braces and have been struggling to find my tone again. My flute teacher never had braces so she can’t give me many practical tips on how to deal with braces and play the flute. How can I adjust to my braces?

    When braces are placed on the teeth, the lips (embouchure) are pushed forward. This new embouchure placement can change how the air strikes the blowing edge of the embouchure hole. Everyone is different, and the style of the braces and whether you have thick or thin lips are factors that affect how the embouchure changes. You will need to experiment and makes some changes to find the best way to make a beautiful, focused sound while you have braces.
    The goal is to figure out how to make your new embouchure setup better direct the air stream to the blowing edge of the embouchure hole. One way to do this is to place between one to five layers of masking tape on the embouchure plate of the headjoint.

    Start by placing one layer of tape on the embouchure plate and play. If you like the sound, shape the masking tape to fit the space. If you don’t like the sound, add more layers until you find your sound.
Each time the braces are adjusted you may have to repeat this trial and error process. You also should remake the masking tape pad about once a week as it will get soiled when you  practice. Once you find the correct number of layers of masking tape for your setup, the tone exercises you have previously done with your teacher should work again.  


Patricia George

Patricia George

Patricia George has served on the faculties of the Eastman School of Music Preparatory Dept., Idaho State Univ., and Brigham Young Univ.-Idaho. She teaches Flute Spa masterclasses throughout the U.S. and is Editor of Flute Talk. [email protected]


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