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How to help a student when you don't have experience playing with braces yourself?
When my students get braces, the first thing I remind them is that it WILL get better with some patience. They might have to adjust their headjoint placement, stretch their lips around/over the braces more, or use some wax if it's uncomfortable. I also use straws to help them with embouchure shape/size and a Pneumo Pro to help them adjust to this new way of playing!
I have a very recent story about braces, which is one of the most difficult experiences in my teaching practice.
On average, about 75-80% of my students get braces at some point and they usually adjust fairly quickly and their beautiful sound returns back in a short time.
However, this year I have a new student who has significant difficulties with the embouchure and the sound, mostly related to adjusting the hole, the jaw (which is naturally pushed back a little too much), the air direction and speed, also the student did not practice much, but finally she began to get a decent sound ... until one day came with braces... We lost all our work of several months 🤯🤦♀️ Improvement stopped, she completely lost her sound... We needed a new position, placing it much higher on the lower lip (my impression is that her braces are very thick inside and have changed the shape of her embouchure way too much) She also has a hard time to keep it in the right spot because it constantly hurts inside - it's really hard for her to get used to braces in general.
After a few weeks I ordered a Pneumo Pro for her and we started using it last week. Today she came to class, we started with long tones and she had a pretty good sound. It's incredible to go from no sound and unwillingness to put in any effort to adjust to a pretty good sound in just one week. From F3 and up, she still has some difficulty, but she can play. Today I almost cried from happiness 😅 The student looked happy, too!
Thank you, Kathy for your invention! In some cases this is a life saver!
Yulia Berry, Founder and Director of The Babel Flute