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Very despondent DD trumpet player with new braces

(21 Posts)
kerpob Mon 01-Jun-15 17:28:36

My DD is 13 years old and will take her grade 5 exam in trumpet playing in three weeks time. She recently had orthodontic braces on her teeth and is finding her playing extremely difficult. She has become really despondent and is now talking about giving up her instrument. She has done so well in her exams to date achieving distinction in each and we have been told she is a very talented player. I think she would really regret giving up her instrument for the sake of a few weeks perseverance but she is very anxious that she will feel her grade exam miserably. I really don't know how to encourage her any more as we are having tears and upset every day. We tried the brace guard which she didn't like but it is her lack of range and power now which is so discouraging to her rather than the pain. Any suggestions very much appreciated.

Lindor Mon 01-Jun-15 17:32:06

We had this with tenor horn. They can and do adjust . It's just unfortunate that her exam is so soon. X

gonegrey56 Mon 01-Jun-15 17:36:47

How long are her braces on for? My dd went through just this (as a singer) and took a break for the year the braces were on ( Damon braces, fast acting, off in 10 months with great result). I feel for her but a) she will be thrilled to have lovely straight teeth and b) a break for a while is not the end of the world, honestly, she will catch up ...

LIZS Mon 01-Jun-15 17:41:54

Ds has had his for a year and it has affected his range on tenor horn. Could you postpone the exam?

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:42:38

Cancel the exam. Three weeks isn't nearly long enough to get her range back. We've been there, done that, twice now. DD is nearly 13 and has had her brace since Christmas; she's getting some of the range back but certainly won't be taking her Grade 5 for a while.

She doesn't need to stop playing, but she'll need to take it gently or she'll get very sore.

Give it till next term and she'll either be just fine, or need to drop to a lower instrument (larger mouthpiece) for a spell. DS dropped all the way to tuba!

kerpob Mon 01-Jun-15 17:42:38

The braces will be on for 12-18 months. We could postpone the Grade 5 to the winter but the braces will still be on and she will be sitting at a standstill with her pieces in the interim. It's her confidence which seems to have taken the biggest blow. She was 1st trumpet in her school band and has been demoted sad

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:44:28

Honestly, by next term I would expect she'll be fine.

And given that she can't play the full range at the moment, it's not a demotion to play 2nd/3rd/whatever trumpet -- it's just a wider experience of musicianship (can you tell this is exactly what just happened to DD?).

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:45:40

DS's teacher told him firmly that if he didn't have the range, he could bloody well put his effort into the fingerwork.

he is the fastest tuba player in the west!

kerpob Mon 01-Jun-15 17:48:53

There seems to be such a range of experience. Some get their range back within a few weeks and others don't seem to at all. She is so negative about it at the moment I'm worried if she "takes a break" she'll not come back to it.

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:54:37

She should probably try to do 5-10 minutes every day rather than stop. It's a question of building up a slightly different embouchure. But I certainly wouldn't try to do an exam right now.

1805 Mon 01-Jun-15 18:41:54

Yes, this will be a hard time for DD. Did her teacher explain what to expect whilst the braces are on? The good news is, that playing will return as soon as the braces come off, and lots and lots and lots of young players go through this experience.
If a pupil is struggling, I teach other skills like transposition, and finger strengthening exercises and work slowly up increasing the range again. There is a book called Brace yourself for Brass or something - I don't use it tbh, but it is out there.
Make sure she understands that this is temporary, and a time to consolidate basic techniques. Also make sure the dentist knows too.
Good luck to her.
Oh, if she doesn't feel confident about the exam - postpone. It's not the end of the world. Talk to the teacher about this though.

kerpob Tue 02-Jun-15 11:18:20

Can I just ask you something 1805? Do ABRSM fail children outright if not meeting standards? I read somewhere online they very rarely "fail" children but I don't want to let my DD know this if its not the case. Many thanks

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 02-Jun-15 12:23:40


A child will fail if they don't meet the standard required. The standard is met by getting 100 marks out of 150, marked against a mark scheme that is published online. You can, however, fail individual sections and pass - or theoretically get a distinction - overall.

It's more common in Asia than in Europe because of the different culture - people just enter over and over and over again until they pass, in some places, while in Britain we tend to only enter children we at least think meet the required standard. I have a few risky ones this year...

kerpob Tue 02-Jun-15 12:28:35

Thanks very much everyone. She has her practice rehearsal for her grade on Friday and I think we will make a final decision regarding postponing the exam until after that.

1805 Tue 02-Jun-15 16:31:25

Yes, a pupil will fail if not up to standard. An experienced teacher will know if dd is likely to pass or fail, and should advise accordingly.
As a very rough guide, if she can play through all elements of the exam correctly and without stopping, that would be the very lowest requirement to scrape a pass - IMO. Don't forget about Sight reading, scales and aural tests too. These areas can determine a pass or fail in dodgey cases!!! Good luck!

goshhhhhh Tue 02-Jun-15 16:37:04

Postpone the exam & use some of the time to concentrate on the theory & then she can be ahead in one bit. Has she got grade v theory?

kerpob Tue 02-Jun-15 21:15:20

No only on grade 2 in theory. That seems to be the norm with this particulate school of music. All the kids are a few grades behind in theory.

spudmasher Tue 02-Jun-15 21:20:25

It's a bit of a nightmare for them. Your DD must be properly fed up- all that hard work and it just disappears.
My dd skipped a grade.
She finds her range normal one week, then all over the place the next as the teeth move and the jaw changes shape so rapidly. She has a fab trumpet teacher who has really done all the hard work keeping her motivated by finding success in other areas. I'm so proud of her for sticking with it, though it's still all very changeable!

timetosmile Tue 02-Jun-15 21:20:49

Is it a 'train track' brace, rather than a palate plate one?
If so get her some rizzla type cigarette papers and fold them longways to form a sort of thin cushion between the bumpy bits of the braces and the inside of her lips and cheeks which may be getting sore when she plays. A bit like putting a plaster on your heel in uncomfortable shoes which rub. It used to help me when I played wind instruments.

kerpob Wed 03-Jun-15 22:06:44

That's a good idea timetosmile. I will try anything at the moment. It's train track braces.
Yes spudmasher she's very frustrated and upset. We've her rehearsal on Friday and we will make a decision after that.

purplestripysocks Fri 05-Jun-15 22:01:50

It is a pity that the exam is so soon; it is probably better to take the pressure off and forget all about it.
With some work and time to get used to it she will get the range and tone back and the good news is that, if she sticks with it, when the brace eventually comes off she will sound fabulous!

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