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 (73)
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 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 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

Blogger Saxylizbeth said...

Thank you so much! My student arrived today with braces and I was utterly stumped. Masking tape did the trick!

Thursday, December 09, 2010 11:24:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Saxilizabeth,
So glad this helped. Jen :>)

Thursday, December 09, 2010 11:35:00 AM

Anonymous Lolly-Pop said...

I got braces about a month ago now and although everyone tells me to keep trying I still can't get a sound out. I have been quite upset and was hoping to take my Grade 5 in the summer do you have anymore suggestions?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 8:20:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Lolly-Pop, did you try up to five layers of masking tape on the chin plate? Jen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 8:54:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Jen, have you personally done this yourself on your flute? I don't want to mess up the finish of mine. And does it work on piccolos too? Thanks

Thursday, August 04, 2011 5:19:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Masking tape is meant to be removeable. I have used it with my own flute (to create bamboo sound effects) and it left no mark. I had a student who used a HUGE amount on her gold Brannen, and it didn't leave any residue.
And adhesive residue comes off instantly with isopropyl alcohol.
So unless you have a plated lip plate that is very cheap and already flaking (from a $150 flute that's badly plated) then masking tape is not going to do anything to your mouthpiece, I don't think.

I haven't tried it on wooden piccolos, but piccs sit higher on the lower lip, and don't need it as much.
Best, Jen

Thursday, August 04, 2011 6:08:00 PM

Blogger Marina said...

A question: my dentist suggested a wire behind my lower front teeth to keep them from moving forwards.I'm a 55 year old professional flutist. My first reaction was, NO WAY, I can't afford to change anything in my mouth...... Do you have any information on this?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:40:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Marina,
Sorry to say; no info. on that topic. But you might inquire at one of the large Flute Groups online: FLUTE LISTserv at might have another flutist with a similar appliance. Best, Jen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:58:00 PM

Blogger Grace said...

I am a freshman and have an important solo competition I've been practicing for months for coming up... I got braces this week and now my practice is labored and painful. Any other advice?

Monday, January 30, 2012 7:42:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Grace,
I take it you've tried the masking tape layering on the lip plate?
And you've moved your lips forward, so that they come down and over the braces?
And you've done longtones in the new lip position?
What exactly is going on when you do these things?
Are you relaxed, and letting the embouchure re-shape itself?
Or are you trying to rush things?

Monday, January 30, 2012 8:34:00 PM

Blogger Grace said...

Thanks for the advice! I am learning to work with the braces, and have made big progress. I've experimented and found ways to improve my embouchure around the braces and am on the way to being as good as before. I've found that just practicing can help a lot. The tips were really helpful. Thanks again!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 5:15:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Grace,
What wonderful news! Onward and upward! Jen

Thursday, February 09, 2012 8:09:00 AM

Blogger saras0408 said...

Hello Ms Cluff,

I am a 6th grade flute player who is first chair in band. I got braces a few days ago, and the moment when I started to play the flute, it got really fuzzy. Can Scotch tape also work for the masking tape technique? Please reply ASAP.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 3:59:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear 6th grade brace-ist,

Scotch tape is not thick enough, it gets sticky at the edges, and it also eventually starts sliding around. It's also hard to remove all the glue without using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alc.)

Masking tape is thicker, and more papery. You need less layers to get the height you need. It's made to remove easily, stays put and is cheap to replace a fresh piece each time you wear it out.

So wait and get some masking tape.
You'll be so annoyed trying to get all the glue off if you use other tapes.
Best, Jen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:08:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ssssooo much! I just got braces today and when I practiced on my flute, the notes came out in a wheezy version! But now I found the solution! Again, THANK YOU!!!!! :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:42:00 PM

Anonymous Maureen said...

I've found that my students prefer the blue painter's tape to the plain masking tape. It leaves less residue for those that fear it. Seriously, alcohol works! My fluties are fashionistas so the blue appeals to them more than boring beige. Remember, a beautiful smile is worth the temporary inconvenience of braces!
Happy fluting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:58:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Maureen!
Blue painter's tape sounds good.
Will look for it!
Less residue? Fabulouso!
Best, Jen

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:36:00 PM

Blogger tyleragent said...

Thanks for the read, and I can't imagine what it must be like to have braces while you're in the band. I'm just glad that I play the piano, and not any instrument that you have to put your mouth on.

Friday, April 05, 2013 7:46:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Tyler,
Mind you pianists have to often play on suddenly not-great pianos, when they go from place to place, whereas woodwinds can carry their instruments from place to place.

Friday, April 05, 2013 10:27:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, thank you! I've been playing the flute for almost seven years now. I'm in 11th grade and had to suddenly get braces. I've been trying for months to get my tone quality back, but it came and went. I have a playing test soon and was terrified, but this totally worked! less stress now, thanks!

Sunday, December 08, 2013 1:17:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

So so glad it worked! Yay for you! Best, Jen

Sunday, December 08, 2013 1:45:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the previous grade I played flute and I sounded fairly well until my braces came in. By the end of the semester I was better but never how I was b4 I got braces and this yr I am joining band and I am afraid I am gonna sound horrible in front if everyone. Do you have any advice for me

Friday, December 13, 2013 8:05:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,

It might not be the braces alone.
It could be:
a) you need masking tape on the lip plate
b) your flute has not been to its once-annual repair visit and is leaking
c) you have not sought out flute lessons.
d) you don't actually know how to practice (or don't practice)

Go to a flute teacher and have them play-test your flute.
Even if you only go for five lessons, it will help you to know if your flute is working, to give you a headstart on improving, and will help you set the masking tape on the lip-plate to get your tone back.

good luck, Jen

Friday, December 13, 2013 11:36:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am in 8th grade and I have had my braces on for about a week, but I haven't quite gotten used to them yet. Although I can play notes and have a nice tone quality while playing, I am extremely flat. I have to push my headjoint in all the way before I am in tune again. Suggestions?
(I have checked the cork and it seems to be in the right place)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:18:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
Sudden flatness due to braces could mean that now your lower lip is jutted out, because of the braces on the lower teeth, the lower lip is now covering more of the blow hole than it was before.
You can't retract the lower lip (as the braces are in the way) so you would want to try rolling the flute away from you in tiny increments (1 millimeter at a time) so that the lower lip is not covering so much blow-hole.
Your private teacher can help with this.
Best, Jen

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:18:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so scared. I will have braces tomorrow. I am afraid, if I can't play flute I don't know what to do.

Maybe I shouldn't be scared. I am sopposed to do my last grade next spring and when I told that I am going to have braces my teacher was terrified.
Do the braces effect usually big?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 12:17:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,
If you can manage it, don't absorb anyone else's fear. Just deal with reality. Most people can play just fine with the layers of masking tape.
Others can play fine after a few weeks, even without masking tape on the lip-plate.
But it's not SCARY. It's just the way it is.
Worst case scenario, you can put off your exam for a year. The main thing is to have fun and not let the braces get you down.
Best, Jen
(who had braces for five years and played just fine; no problems. Goodbye buck teeth! :>)> ha ha.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 6:57:00 PM

Anonymous Ritchie Gonzales said...

I have an 11 year flute student and he has a beautiful flute tone. He is getting braces next next week. I am going to try the masking tape trick. I am hoping it will help solve any issues that may arise. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 7:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

is this masking tape purchesed of dentist?

Friday, September 19, 2014 12:22:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

No, masking tape is used for painters who are painting inside houses, to "mask" the edge of a window or door. It is yellow paper tape, plastic-paper sticky tape, and comes off easily.
You can buy yellow paper tape for painting at any regular store.

Friday, September 19, 2014 6:31:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I'm auditioning for All-State band on flute in a couple weeks and still having trouble getting a low C out of it. My teacher tells me to "flatten my upper lip" but I'm wondering if I'm having trouble because of my braces. Any ideas? Thanks!

Sunday, November 02, 2014 11:16:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Low C can be difficult when there is a leak in the pad, or the C# or C keys are slightly bent. Has your teacher tested your flute to see if they can easily get a low C?
Thanks for answering.

Sunday, November 02, 2014 11:24:00 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, my teacher has tried playing on my flute and she can get the C out just fine. I don't want to use my braces as an excuse, but I've been working on it for a while with slim to none improvement :(

Monday, November 03, 2014 12:04:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Colleen,
If your flute teacher has tested your flute, and the low C comes out fine, then it is not a repair problem.
You'll need to figure out whether the problem is caused by:
- an open hole is gapping because when you move your pinky another finger is shifting off its open-hole (typically F# or E fingers are moving). For this check in a mirror. One solution is to plug the open holes in those two keys with acrylic plugs, at least temporarily.
- you are LEAPING to low C, which causes many changes in students lips, hands and chin-support.
See article on how to fix problems with low C:

It may not be your braces, it could be a common reason that many students have to work out by observing themselves minutely as listed in the article above.
Write back if you find out what it was.

Monday, November 03, 2014 12:11:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

My low C has actually improved a lot. I just needed practice. It didn't come out well at my audition, but I was also very nervous. Thanks! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014 1:02:00 PM

Blogger Lilfluter said...

Another way to get a comfortable embouchure is making a puffer fish face and then deflating it when you're in a comfortable place on the lip plate. It definitely worked for me on the first day. After a while you'll get used to the position and won't have to do the puffer fish face any more. (1-1 1/2 weeks at tops... depending how much the flutist practices)

Monday, December 08, 2014 12:45:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Hey, Jen

My daughter is in 4th grade and just started to play the flute. She was a cleft pallet baby, and still has a small hole in the pallet, but is doing fearly well with it. She will be getting braces within the next 6 months. Any advice on helping her prepping for it?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 4:21:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi Erika,
I don't know if there's any pre-braces preparation for a nine year old player.....if just beginning, the student may well not notice any problems at all. They merely have to get their lips around the braces somewhat to get a sound again.
Good luck and don't worry. Jen

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 6:00:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am soon getting braces and will defiantly try this trick!

Friday, June 05, 2015 4:44:00 PM

Blogger Ramiro said...

I got braces two months ago and at first i had a hard time trying to play the flute again but now the tone is better than before! The problem is that my flexibility is gone and i can´t help it. As it appears, the braces have the effect of "locking" my lips from inside and it is very difficult to move them in the way i used to.
Do you know if anybody else has had the same problem?

Another aspect is that my embouchure now is getting asymetrical...



Wednesday, August 26, 2015 1:53:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Ramiro,
Sorry this is happening; I hope it gets better for you eventually. I don't know much about this, and I haven't heard anyone else describe it exactly this way. But hopefully you'll work through it. Sorry I can't help more. Jen

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 3:33:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I just got braces on for the 2nd time in my life (I was a teen learner last time, and now I'm a freelance musician), so I'm going to try and document my journey on my own blog. Today I came across this article, which has some useful tips on how to "re-find" your sound and experiment with the new layout of your mouth.

I'm definitely struggling more this time as I felt a bigger inital loss in my sound quality and flexibility, compared to getting braces on when I'd only been playing for a year last time.

Best wishes to everyone on this journey!


Sunday, December 20, 2015 6:14:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Thanks Diljeet; I will be following the adventure. Best, Jen

Sunday, December 20, 2015 7:19:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an 8th grader that stated the flute in 6th grade for my band classes. Last week I got my braces and my tone and quality of it has gone down the drain. Every time I try to play a high note it ends up with the same note an octave or more lower. What should I do?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 4:33:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
2nd paragraph above:
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.

Best, Jen

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 5:51:00 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

My band is having a huuuuge competition next week. I just got braces two days ago and I practiced enough so I can play low and high notes. The only problem is, I'm finding trouble playing the middle octave. Please help me, I'm first chair and I have a huge solo!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 4:34:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Gaby,
Often flute teachers tell their students: "If you're getting braces two weeks before your big competition/exam/solo, then ask the ortho if you can wait til after the flute solo to get the braces on."
However, since you didn't realize, just do your best. If the masking tape doesn't work, then there's not much you can do but be optimistic. When I was 12-15 I played with braces no problem, but it took 2-4 weeks to get used to them. Good luck; no doubt you'll shine through it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 7:06:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

would duck tape work instead of masking tape?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 4:13:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Duct tape (silver heavy-duty style) is too sticky for the job.
You want a tape that removes easily.
Masking tape removes easily because it is made to be removed.
You certainly don't want any adhesive on your flute that is difficult to remove.
And worse, adhesive sticking to your skin would also be uncomfortable.
Masking tape is cheap and comes off easily leaving no adhesive behind.
Layering it up takes experimentation, so the experiment can be repeated many times with a cheap, light, easy tape.
Avoid duct tape.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 7:53:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 13 years old and not meaning to brag, I am REALLY good at playing flute. (I've been first chair this whole year!) I also love practicing. I got braces a little over a month ago. It used to be fine, but I always have more "bad" days than good practice days. I got adjusted really fast right after I got them, but recently, it has gotten harder. My private teacher suggested I spend time doing chromatic longtones. My tone is fine in long tones for all octaves, beautiful even, but when I actually go to play an etude or something, I can't play the higher notes as easily as I used to, and it takes much more of an effort. It's really stressing me out, and lots of days I slam my flute in frustration. (Don't worry, not to the point where it will break.) It's really just my tone that I really hate now. It makes me want to rip my hair out. Problem is, my lessons teacher isn't available in the summer, and no other one are either. Please help me!

Sunday, June 18, 2017 9:59:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi there 13 yr.old with every-changing teeth,

Don't slam your flute in frustration; does nothing good; honestly.

Your lips just have to move off the teeth so that they are more extended outward.

The braces are forcing you to pout your lips forward even more.

Try it and get back to me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017 11:14:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the 13 yr.old with every-changing teeth. Thank you. I tried your advice for a while, and it worked MOST of the time. My playing did improve a bit though. Thank you so much! The only problem I have now is that I spit a lot when I play. Is that normal? Any tips? Thank you!!!!

Friday, July 07, 2017 1:27:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Hi there 13 yr. old with teeth that change,
The spottiness goes away with time, I believe.
There's an spitty-tonguing article here:

But if your spottiness is just from the braces, you'll get used to it and it will resolve eventually (when braces come off of course.)
Best, Jen

Friday, July 07, 2017 3:53:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELP HELP HELP! I really really need your help ASAP! I am in 8th grade and I have a very important contest coming up in 2 weeks. I got braces around 6 months ago, in May. I used to play fine, and my 3 audition pieces sounded perfect over the summer. But now and recently, I just can't do it! My braces are preventing me and I don't know why!!!! My higher register now sounds awful and fuzzy and airy and not full of tone and its not responding and I get tired really often. I have tried literally EVERYTHING and all tips. I tried masking tape, my lips seem to be in the correct position (they are extended forward from my teeth). Yes, I do have a private teacher, and she basically told me I just need to get my lips forward from my teeth, which she said I already was doing well. I'm super worried, because I've had them on for 6 MONTHS and its still not improving. My contest is coming up soon, and everyone expects me to do well, because I placed 1st chair last year. I have this huge amount of pressure mounted down on my shoulders. My tone and high register is just so frustrating, I yell out in frustration and scream and eventually cry a lot. I need you to please help me from my desperation as soon as you can!! If you can't help, then I don't know who can. HELP ME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! Thank you so much!!

Friday, October 20, 2017 6:18:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous,

There's not much I can do, due to distance and not being able to see what's going on, but here's the least I can do:

1. Firstly, it's okay if you don't do well on one contest. Accept that and you'll finally be able to relax. There's always next year. This is not life or death. You have a dental excuse. Don't sweat the small stuff. There will be a thousand contests after this one.

2. Secondly, has your teacher play-tested your flute? There could be something else wrong with it that has slowly been going wrong over the last two months or so, like a leaking cork, or leaking pads, or a screw slowly working its way out. Get someone like your teacher, who plays really well, to fully play-test the flute, in case it needs repairs.

3. Thirdly, the more you tense up and get frustrated, the less flexible and adaptable your embouchure and face and lungs and throat will be. All those things tighten up when you try and rush your work. Why not just sit back this time, and don't compete; just go with the flow. You'll likely learn more music if you're relaxed, so even if you don't do particularly well in the contest, you'll still enjoy the musical things you learned, and go on from there.

Hope this helps,

Friday, October 20, 2017 7:27:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous by the way, to whom you responded.

I really appreciate your help in this matter, a lot! Thank you so much.
The first problem is, my band director won't let me not compete in this contest. No matter how much I tell her, she only says I'm going through a stage of "hard self criticism." She thinks I sound fine, but I wouldn't expect her to know since she doesn't play flute. She just says I'm stressing too much, and ignores my requests.

Secondly, I'm not sure if my flute has been play tested or not. I can have my teacher do that, although my next lesson isn't until Wednesday. I really hope that my flute is the problem and not me (although I seriously doubt it).

I know you said there isn't much you can do, but do you have ANY tips that might help me? Anything would be appreciated at the moment.

Thanks again.

Saturday, October 21, 2017 8:05:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Have you looked at the articles about "How to get good tone in the high register"?


All my best advice on tone in the high register is there.
It's possible that your flute is indeed in need of repair.
You'd be surprised to find the number of times the leaks and problems show up right in the two weeks before a performance; since the increased practice time has brought the repair needs right to the fore.
If you have the time, take the flute to the best flute repair person in town today or tomorrow.
You won't believe how quickly a pad leak or cracked solder around the lip plate can cause the player to think that "they just can't play anymore for some mysterious reason." It is really common.
Be scientific; check this FIRST. Just take the flute to the best flute player you know as soon as possible and ask them to try it, at the very least.
If it turns out the flute needs to stay in repair, and you have to go without a flute, rent a flute from a good music store for the rest of the month.

Secondly, the best cure for "intense self-criticism" is a small book called "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Timothy Gallwey. Read it. Go to the library, get it out and read it.

Thirdly, relax. It's okay if you don't do well. It's better that you reduce your stress and don't take it all too seriously. There are much more important things like duh duh duh; MENTAL HEALTH and RESILIENCY. :>)

Be healthy, flexible and informed.
Stay sane under pressure. :>)
Perfectionism can be unhealthy unless used judiciously.
Learn balance from this situation. There will be many more like this in the future, and your flexibility will be all the more developed for the next time.

Best, Jen

Saturday, October 21, 2017 9:19:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is anonymous who needed your help so badly btw.

So... let's make a long story short, shall we?

There is nothing wrong with my flute, at all. I had it checked by my band director and private teacher. No leaking pads, nothing.

At my most recent lesson, we worked on fixing my tone, and it got a lot better, but still not the best it could potentially be. But, when I went home after my lesson to practice again, I made a HUGE HUGE breakthrough that was so simple, I never ever would have noticed!!!! Just know that we spent forever trying to fix it. My 1 hour lesson was wasted on tone exploration. :( We tried everything, moved the lip plate every millimeter.

During my lesson, my teacher made an observation that caught my attention. She said that I play from the side of my mouth (lips), but that was fine and not unnormal, because even she plays like that. When I went home, still sad about my tone, I went to go record an assignment for band at school, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I had this feeling so literally just moved my lip plate over to the left to where my embouchure hole was (from the side), and I barely, slightly rolled in. And THANK GOD, my tone was (is) so amazing and beautiful and clear and fixed that I started to cry!! I just couldn't believe that I had fixed it!! I tried it again and again to make sure it was real! My high register was fixed, nothing was airy anymore!!! I am so happy!!!!!!!!!!!

I want to thank you so much though because you and your website have opened my eyes to watch for even the simplest things. All the tips you gave me are great though, and I thank you for all of your advice. Its one of the greatest flute things I have ever received. And, I thank you for helping me in my time of frustration and despair listening to my "sob story". ;)

I am writing this so all the flute players who have lost hope can understand that:

1.) You're not the only one. Problems are a real thing other fellow flutes endure.
2.) It will eventually get better.
3.) Never EVER lose hope like I did for 3 weeks.
4.) Never slam your flute in anger because I did and now it has a moderate dent near the head joint. I guess I learned my lesson from that.
5.) And that Jen is the BEST FLUTE PERSON EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and gives great advice).

My contest is on Saturday, November 4. I will try to write back and let you know how it goes, although I am much relaxed now then I was before.

Once again, thank you so much for ALL of your help, even though it may have not caused me to fix my problem. YOU'RE THE BEST!! FLUTE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 7:11:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anon,
Huge congrats on your discovery and go-man-go!
I'm so glad!
Best, Jen

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 8:34:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I am so sorry that it took me this long to reply, but I've been busy studying for finals and tests. Its been busy. My audition went great. I got 4th chair out of 40 people auditioning. The three chairs above me were all 9th grade. And I feel like I deserved it because I messed up in my audition anyways. I'm so glad though! Thanks again!

Thursday, December 14, 2017 8:24:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Good for you! Happy to hear it! :>)

Thursday, December 14, 2017 9:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! Don’t know if this blog is inactive or not, but I’m going to give a shot anyways. I’m getting my braces in three weeks and two days after that, I’m going to a competition with my band. I don’t have a major flute solo, but I need to play well for my band. There’s only three people in the flute section including me. But only me and another girl actually plays, the other one gets shy and doesn’t play as loud or doesn’t play at all. After reading the comments, I’m very scared that I won’t play as well and I don’t think two days is enough for me to get used to my braces. Hopefully that masking tape will fix my problem. It sucks because I can’t really change my appointment date. Other than my band competition near the date, it’s the most ideal day to get braces for me. I just got seven of my teeth removed (including four wisdom teeth) yesterday and I can’t practice on my flute for around a week.

So my question is, is it possible to play flute well after two days of getting braces? Or do I need a full week? I really do not want to disappoint my band.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 24, 2018 9:23:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Hi there Anonymous with new braces!
Yes, this blog is active, I just set the comments to "approval" so that I don't get too much unwanted spamola', ha.

Sounds like your braces are coming right at the wrong time for your band concert.
Would you like to move your appointment until AFTER the concert, and/or consult with your orthodontist? You may wish to consider this. Here's why:

When the braces first go on they are tightened to move the teeth. This makes all the teeth ache slightly, for about three days. Each time the braces are tightened again (every four-six weeks when I had them), the teeth ache again, for three days. They are actually being MOVED. That's why they ache.
Not only would you have to be able to get a tone, with a whole new rack of impediments on your teeth, that would make you take three weeks to get used to poking your lips out past your front-mounted braces, but you would also have achey teeth for the first few days.

So I don't know if you'd want to be under any pressure to play the flute well, without sufficient time for both the aching to stop and the lips to re-train their shape around the new impediments. If it were me, I'd move the appointment, play the concert, and THEN get the braces.
Best, Jen

Saturday, February 24, 2018 12:39:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

When I say that your teeth ache slightly, I forgot to specifically state that when you put the flute up to play, your bottom teeth feel too sensitive to take the pressure of the lip plate against them; it actually aches. After three days, you can play again without any aching. (Same with biting apples, or corn, or chewing anything tough; your teeth slightly ache too much first three days of every tightening.) Jen

Saturday, February 24, 2018 12:45:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying! I just thought this specific blog post was inactive because the last post before me was posted on December 14th 2017. Hopefully I can convince my parents to move the appointment after the band competition. The first few days after getting braces seems rough. Again, thanks for the advice! :]

Sunday, February 25, 2018 8:05:00 AM

Blogger jen said...

Good luck with moving the appointment. It's not too rough. But if it were me, I'd move the appointment for sure. Happy playing! Jen

Sunday, February 25, 2018 8:13:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

continuation of previous anonymous: she was STRONG: at her first audition at Sydney Con, I was in the courtyard outside, and when she started to play, it came booming out of a couple of top windows, and FILLED the entire courtyard. With braces ON, right from the start. Learning for her was about learning to use the power she had immediately on starting. Her torso was not large, but her expiration sure was. Is it very uncommon that braces are so much help??

Sunday, December 30, 2018 12:32:00 PM

Blogger jen said...

Dear Anonymous, I cannot tell which of the dozens of comments are yours; are you thinking that someone who played flute with braces was ASSISTED in making a large volume of sound BECAUSE of the braces? No, I don't believe that braces HELP make the flute's sound larger. Some people just make a larger and better quality tone than others, braces or not.

Sunday, December 30, 2018 5:42:00 PM


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