How to Play Trumpet With Braces

By Contributing Writer

If you’re a trumpet player, getting braces is an immediate detriment to your playing ability and enjoyment. The sensation is uncomfortable and painful, and you’ll find that you simply can’t produce the same tonal quality and pitches that you could without braces. Fortunately, there are techniques that you can employ to make playing the trumpet with braces bearable, and even enjoyable again.

Wait until you've had your braces a few days before playing the trumpet. Immediately after getting braces, your mouth and teeth will feel sore and uncomfortable, and trying to play the trumpet might only make things worse. Give your mouth a few days to adjust to your new orthodontic gear. The pain will decrease, and your comfort level will increase.

Accept the fact that your embouchure must change when playing with braces. Use your lips to create a cushion between the braces and the trumpet's mouthpiece. Use less pressure than you normally do. If you’re in the bad habit of pushing the mouthpiece into your embouchure in order to produce high notes, now is a great time to break the trend. You’ll injure your lips if you don’t break this habit.

Use airflow, rather than pressure, to create music with your trumpet. You cannot adjust your embouchure while you play, or else you’ll cut and scratch your lips. Do not adjust the muscles in the corners of your lips as you play. Playing high notes typically involves closing your lip aperture while you play. You can’t do this anymore. Instead, move more air.

Wait until playing sky-high notes. Work in the lower registers at first while focusing on maintaining equal pressure between your lips and the mouthpiece. Inform your band director that you now have braces. Chances are excellent that this will be far from the first time that your director has had a student with braces. Ask for lower parts, and don’t try to be a star and play the lead trumpet roles.

Limit your practice sessions to only 10 to 15 minutes at a time. As soon as your embouchure grows tired, or you start to feel pain, put the trumpet down and rest. Playing while you’re sore or tired will cause you to develop bad habits.

Tip

Play quietly. There’s no need for blaring trumpet acrobatics as soon as you get your braces. Get comfortable with a low to medium register, and use as little pressure as possible.

Warning

Do not continue to play if you cut your lips. Scar tissue can develop and could permanently compromise your ability to play the trumpet in the future.