Thursday, August 03, 2006

Flute students dealing with braces

A solution for flutists wearing orthodentic braces on their teeth for the first time that I read on one of the Flute discussion groups (could have been P.George who suggested it):

This technique works like a charm to get the tone back after braces are on:
It's the famous "layering of masking tape on the lip plate trick."

You take masking tape and cut a piece to fit the chin side of the lip plate.
You can cut an oval, rectangle, or get fancy and cut a jelly-bean shape for the near side of the lip plate; as long as it doesn't hang into or gum up the embouchure hole.
You apply the masking tape to the lip-plate,and have the braces-wearer play for a minute or two with one layer of tape, and then add one by one, more layers of masking tape until their tone improves.

Usually 3 to 5 layers of tape bring the angle back up to the right one to get their tone back. The tape brings the blowing angle up in compensation for the lips being
pushed forward over the braces.

Dental wax on the sharper parts of the braces cab also help to avoid cutting the lips from the inside.

Rubbing alcohol will remove adhesive and gunk build-up on the headjoint when the tape needs to be replaced, or becomes worn from use.

Every time the student has their braces tightened (every few weeks) be prepared for 2-3 days where the teeth feel slightly too tender to play the flute for any length of time comfortably.
But it can be done. I myself wore braces for three years (grade 9-11) and played despite slightly sore teeth (2 days every three weeks), and I remember that I re-found my tone quality by persistence, even without knowing about the masking tape trick.
And this was 30 years ago when the braces were BIG, UGLY, and hugely metallic! :>D

Other flute teachers with great tricks for students, please leave ideas in the "comments" section below.
Thanks. :>)

Jen Cluff
Comments (5)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! My 14-year-old daughter is pretty picky about her flute playing. She just got braces last week and is to give a solo next Tuesday. Just tonight she was lamenting about her tone quality. We'll try your tip!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 9:01:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

Yes, I had braces too for three years.
I don't remember how long it took me to get my tone back, but it seemed like just a week or so.
Let me know if the masking tape trick works for you. I learned it from listening to other teachers talk about solutions for braces.
Wax on any cutting wires against the lower lip can also help, I hear.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 9:12:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in 8th grade and absolutely LOVE to play my flute. About a year ago I got braces, and my tone went down the tubes. I was so frustrated and sad. Playing my flute was not fun anymore. I was desperate. My flute teacher and I were looking for solutions to my problem and heard about your site. We checked it out, and i tried the masking tape trick. My tone if finally back!!! The trick works great! Thank you so much for your help!! Thanks to you my flute is enjoyable to play again!! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:21:00 PM

Blogger Jen Cluff said...

What a terrific thing!
Thanks for letting me know it worked!

Good news all around!!
Best, Jen

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:25:00 PM

Anonymous Dentists Orange said...

Thank you for sharing this. This will be of great help to people wearing braces and are having dilemmas on how they will be able to play the flute. All the best !

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:43:00 AM


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