Recently I found out I will be getting braces, and was wondering how this might affect my flute playing. I've read that practicing often will help, but on account of the fact that I am getting both top and bottom braces, palette expander,etc., I was wondering if anyone has any solid advice on how to fix and advance my flute playing afterwards from either personal experience, or real knowledge of the subject. I play well already, and don't want to regress after 3 years of hard work and dedication.
As mentioned earlier, it is wise to check the older posts.
Additionally, I have worked with many students with braces on a variety of instruments (mostly brass). Many 'teachers' think and preach it will take months to adjust to braces being installed and removed. My experience shows this adjustment period is much less, like 4 to 10 days. And here is why . . .
You need to understand what you are doing when you play your instrument, what do you do to make the instrument produce a sound. Then you have to think about what the braces (and palate expander) are doing and how your body will need to adjust to those doings.
Here is a simple explanation: many braces are placed on the exterior of your teeth. As a result the skin of your lips will eventually have to extend over the hardware to complete the seal you are typically used to. Likewise when you have braces removed you now have too much skin and the skin needs to retract back because it doesn't need to cover the hardware anymore. The younger you are the more quickly this elasticity will happen.
It's not so much that you will need to practice more, but you will need to be more aware, more efficient, and more decisive in your practicing. The first exercise I give all my students with braces is the "chromatic morning/evening routine". This requires a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Before you get your braces installed you need to set a control, what is your range? Start with a simple chromatic scale C to C. You play it up slowly and down slowly one octave. Then you move up one half step and repeat. You repeat this until you get to the highest octave you can comfortably play. Make a note of this note/range. Do this again with the low end of your range. When you get your hardware installed you will start with a scale about a 4th below your highest note/range. If you can do that, move up 1/2 step and repeat, etc. Stop when you can't play a complete octave scale and mark this note on your paper. Do the same for your low range. You want to do this each morning (either when you wake, before breakfast, after breakfast, before you go to school ) and again in the evening (after dinner, before you go to bed). During the adjustment period do not do "Cool down" exercises in the evening after the scale exercise. You will find your range returning soon.
This exercise will train your lips to extend to where they need to be sooner than anything else. To get your tone back do long tones. And long tones are not holding a note for 12 beats at 60 bpm. Long tones are holding each note as long as you can and listening and feeling what is happening while you play the long tone. You probably want to make note of how long you can hold a note and watch how you begin to lengthen that time.
I had braces for the first two years I played flute. I noticed a big difference in my tone quality when I got them off, that was about it, but I was also a beginner at the time and didn't have an idea of a good tone. I had braces on the top and bottom, as well as a pallet expander, and it didn't really affect me much. It can be abrasive against the inside of your lips, but you'll get used to it.
I've had my braces for about a week now, and I realize that they haven't affected me as much as I thought I have found that they do hurt after a while on the bottom, but I guess it takes some getting used to.