“I have to get braces! Will I be able to play the flute?!”
This is an incredibly common question, and one I asked myself when I got braces in the 10th grade. With every student I’ve taught and in my own experience, it’s usually not an issue (though it sure seems scary at the forefront!). In my own experience, I was horrified to find out that right after I got braces I couldn’t make a sound! What it meant was that my embouchure was actually too tight and it forced me to learn a better way of playing, and as is mentioned in this article, I too felt like I got a better sound with braces. Because the lips had farther to travel it created extra space in the mouth which created more resonance and it helped strengthen the lips of my embochure.
As you may or may not know I am the current chair of the Performance Health Committee for the National Flute Association. We have several members that rotate on a 4-year basis and we also have a medical advisory board. To answer this question, Dr. Chip Shelton (flutist and orthodontist) wrote this article joined by former fellow advisory board member and physical therapist Dr. Susan Fain and committee member Melissa Vining.
If you are a current member of the NFA, you can see the article in the Spring 2021 issue of the Flutist Quarterly.
Here is the full article!