Struggling to play F horn with braces

Did you have braces?

  • Yes, and my playing returned to normal.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes, and my playing didn't return to normal until they were off.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I've never had braces.

    Votes: 3 100.0%

  • Total voters
    3

Viviandium

New Member
I got my braces on a while back, but I haven't been playing the same since. I'm last chair. I can hardly play a high F, and I can't get any higher than a high G or F#, notes that used to be easy for me. Still, I crack notes that are supposed to be easy, like our tuning C or even low notes on the staff during lip slurs or Clarke studies. What's even worse is that sometimes I sustain those cracking notes, and sometimes I just drop out of the exercise all together. I suck so much that it's discouraging me from practicing in front of people or turning in recordings...

I'd get private lessons, but I'm still a minor and I have to get my parents permission. They don't care about band nearly as much as I do, and they've deemed that private lessons aren't necessary. I hate practicing in practice rooms because you can hear through the walls, and like I said, I hate it when people can hear me play. All my fellow horn players really tell me is to blow more air or even to just wait until my braces are off, but neither of those tips help, and I really want to play in the band without the fear of playing something horribly, especially since football season here.

Using more air is definitely important, but do any of you guys have tips on how to play with braces?
 

Andrew Norman

Active Member
Playing F Horn is hard enough. Playing with braces is even more difficult.
You will struggle.
The advice that I give to my pupils is to play what you can and not to worry.
When your braces come off playing will be easier again.
Good luck.
PS I know my profile photo shows me playing Cornet but Horn is my First instrument.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Using more air is definitely important, but do any of you guys have tips on how to play with braces?
Not specifically for braces (not been through it), but don't let your head drop.

Mindset is always important, especially when going through tough patches.
It's easy to get into a negative mindframe and start neglecting important aspects of playing (breathing particularly), which then hit your playing and start a vicious cycle.

"More air" is vague and can lead to bad results if not interpreted correctly - the goal is to have better air support on hand, not to blow your brains out hoping it'll help (it'll often do the opposite, especially if the breathing was poor to begin with).
What you're looking for is a good, deep breath - there's more to this than meets the eye and it's often overlooked, you need decent posture and you need to give yourself time to breathe.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I got my braces on a while back, but I haven't been playing the same since. I'm last chair. I can hardly play a high F, and I can't get any higher than a high G or F#, notes that used to be easy for me. Still, I crack notes that are supposed to be easy, like our tuning C or even low notes on the staff during lip slurs or Clarke studies. What's even worse is that sometimes I sustain those cracking notes, and sometimes I just drop out of the exercise all together. I suck so much that it's discouraging me from practicing in front of people or turning in recordings...

I'd get private lessons, but I'm still a minor and I have to get my parents permission. They don't care about band nearly as much as I do, and they've deemed that private lessons aren't necessary. I hate practicing in practice rooms because you can hear through the walls, and like I said, I hate it when people can hear me play. All my fellow horn players really tell me is to blow more air or even to just wait until my braces are off, but neither of those tips help, and I really want to play in the band without the fear of playing something horribly, especially since football season here.

Using more air is definitely important, but do any of you guys have tips on how to play with braces?
From your text you appear to be in the USA, a teenager and play in a Wind Band that part of the time supports an American Football team. Your range is limited to notes within the top of the stave, playing even those notes is hard and those players around you have comparatively little experience too - whilst some will wish to help they have little of practical playing value to say to you. Private lessons and help aren’t practical for you because your parents don’t support them, but that might well be because of the time or financial burdens it could place on them - it can be very tough being a parent.

Trouble with braces and Brass playing is fairly common. Getting your teeth right whilst you’re young is very important for a whole raft of reasons, playing is something that’s fun and good for mental health so that’s quite important too. So you need both and to do that you need to work around the braces problem with, maybe, some help from your Dentist and your Band Director. The trouble is that your Dentist and your Band Director might not have much in the way of workable solutions but you will have let them know of your difficulties, your Band Director will then know to make allowances too.

When a young relative of mine had braces on he could no longer play a Cornet, the braces cut into his lip and like you he struggled. He moved onto an instrument with a bigger mouthpiece and that allowed him to continue to play. Ways forward for you include changing to an instrument with a bigger mouthpiece and playing a different type of instrument in your Wind Band. Rather than thinking about it as giving up the French Horn think of it as gaining wider experience of playing and as keeping playing too (playing something else is a better option than playing nothing), both of those (experience and continuity) will help you now and later too.

‘Don’t let your head drop’ is good advice, it means don’t get discouraged and do keep positive.

Good luck and if you are able to then please do let us know what solutions you find and changes that you make.
 
Last edited:

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Ways forward for you include changing to an instrument with a bigger mouthpiece and playing a different type of instrument in your Wind Band. Rather than thinking about it as giving up the French Horn think of it as gaining wider experience of playing and as keeping playing too (playing something else is a better option than playing nothing), both of those (experience and continuity) will help you now and later too.
Vivandium, I would second this advice from 2nd Tenor. A while back, I had severe breathing difficulties after heart surgery, which left me completely unable to play my baritone horn. At the suggestion of a friend, I switched from baritone to tenor horn (I believe you call them alto horns in the States). I found that although this needed higher air pressure to work, it didn't need anything like the volume of air.

Switching to another instrument meant I could keep making music, it kept up my sight-reading skills, kept me in touch with my friends in the band, and stopped me from feeling very down in the dumps. And when the docs finally got my breathing problems sorted out (it took about 6 months) I was able to switch back to playing baritone again.

Good luck and if you are able to then please do let us know what solutions you find and changes that you make.
Yes, indeed! Finding ways of coping with braces is a problem faced by many young players, and any tips you can pass on would be widely appreciated.

And best wishes from me, too - I know had bad it feels when you set your heart on doing something, and then seemingly run into a brick wall with no way round it.

Jack
 

Andrew Norman

Active Member
What mouthpiece are you using ? The Bach and Yamaha mouthpieces tend to be rather narrow rims. If you can find a Neill Sanders they have a wide rim which may be more comfortable - although at a slight loss of flexibility.
PHC (Paxmah Halstead Chiddell) mouthpieces also have wide rim options.
 
Last edited:
Top