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Can You Play Saxophone With Braces, Piercings, Long Nails, Etc?

Playing any instrument can be challenging, but sometimes, certain external factors can make it even more difficult.

If you’re interested in playing the saxophone, you might be wondering whether or not it’s still possible to play with braces, piercings, long nails, asthma, etc. What can you expect if any of these factors apply to you?

You can play the saxophone with braces, piercings, long nails, asthma, and more. While you might have to adjust your technique or overall play style, playing the saxophone with these factors is still possible.

The rest of this article will discuss each of these factors in more detail, so you can better understand what to expect while playing the saxophone. Read on for more information, including tips!

Playing The Saxophone With Braces

Playing the saxophone or any other instrument with braces might seem intimidating. Braces hurt–does playing the saxophone make it worse?

Fortunately, this isn’t something to worry about. I played the alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone with braces throughout my middle and high school years without any problems.

Sure, braces can make your mouth sore every now and then, especially right after they get adjusted. But over time, you get used to it.

It’s all about finding a comfortable embouchure that works for your individual mouth shape.

However, if you do find yourself experiencing pain after playing the saxophone with braces, there are some things you can do to relieve braces pain:

  • One thing you can do is to suck on ice after playing. This will numb your mouth and soothe a bit of the pain. Don’t do this before playing because you need sensation in your mouth to play the saxophone correctly.
  • Another thing you can do is to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water after playing. Again, don’t do this before playing, though, as you want your mouth to be perfectly clean to avoid compromising your saxophone reeds.

The bottom line is this: braces hurt whether you play an instrument or not.

In my own experience, I have never had any problems playing the saxophone with braces, but if you find yourself experiencing a little pain after playing, there are quite a few quick and easy ways to solve this issue.

Having braces shouldn’t keep you from playing an instrument you love if the saxophone is genuinely something you’re passionate about!

Playing The Saxophone With Retainers

As with braces, playing the saxophone with retainers is also a possibility.

Typically, with removable retainers, you’re supposed to take them out while eating or drinking. I’d recommend doing the same thing for playing the saxophone, if it alters your sound or makes you uncomfortable.

However, it’s possible to play with a retainer in your mouth. You just need to make the right embouchure adjustments to ensure your comfort and sound aren’t compromised.

I’d also highly recommend rinsing your retainer before and after playing the saxophone. This is because both your reed and your retainer can be a playground for bacteria, and it’s essential to practice good hygiene.

You should also make sure to clean your retainers regularly.

Playing The Saxophone With Piercings

Believe it or not, playing the saxophone with certain kinds of mouth piercings is possible.

If you’re a saxophone player thinking about getting a mouth piercing, it’s possible to play with one in place.

I recommend getting one on the top edge of your top lip, as this will cause less pain.

However, if you already have a lip piercing in your bottom lip, it’s still possible to play with one, as long as it isn’t too invasive.

It might be a painful experience because playing the saxophone requires pressing your lips against the reed, mainly the bottom lip.

Playing Sax With A Tongue Piercing

As far as tongue piercings go, playing with one will be a bit more challenging and can even be painful because playing the saxophone relies heavily on the tongue to make sounds.

Fortunately, as with lip piercings, it’s still possible to play the saxophone with tongue piercings. You just might have to make some embouchure adjustments and manage the pain after playing.

For piercing pain relief, reference the tips I mentioned above in the braces section. Sucking on ice will numb your nerves, and rinsing your mouth with warm water will help soothe and clean any contusions.

However, all piercings are prone to infection, and you should always keep an eye on them just to be safe. If you experience any symptoms, make sure to visit a doctor.

You can also consider removing your piercings if it’s causing too much discomfort while playing your instrument.

Playing the saxophone with lip or tongue piercings will require you to adjust your embouchure, and it might even be a bit challenging or painful at times. But it’s still possible, and if you’re truly passionate about playing the saxophone, you shouldn’t let them stop you from doing so.

Playing The Saxophone With Long Nails

Long nails are a fun and easy way to add a little character to your everyday look.

I, for one, am very fond of acrylics or even just growing my nails out. But is it possible to play the saxophone with long nails?

Yes! It’s absolutely possible to play the saxophone with long nails, depending on the length.

When you play the saxophone, you typically use the pads of your fingers when pressing down on keys. It’s not like a guitar, where you need short nails to hold your fingers at a certain angle.

I’ve played wind instruments such as the saxophone with long nails quite often, and while it did require some minor adjustments, it’s something you can get used to fairly quickly, and it shouldn’t hinder your ability to play too severely.

However, if your nails are excessively long (no judgment, it’s an enjoyable and artistic form of expressing yourself), they may get in the way of your playing.

This is because extremely long nails are more prone to chipping or getting in the way of your ability to press down on the right keys accurately.

If you find yourself struggling to play the saxophone with long nails, I recommend taking a moment to stop and prioritize. Ask yourself which is more important to you–long nails or playing the saxophone?

If the answer is the nails, practice more to train yourself to adjust.

If the answer is the saxophone, then maybe hold off on the long nails for now. You can either trim them or remove them yourself if they’re false nails.

Playing The Saxophone With Asthma

If you struggle with asthma but are interested in playing the saxophone, don’t worry–there are still ways to accomplish this without compromising your health.

This is another thing I experienced during my instrument-playing career back when I was a student.

While it was challenging at times, I could still play the instruments I loved, and if you think you can too, then go for it.

However, it’s vital to practice caution at all times.

Here are my tips for playing the saxophone with asthma:

  • Have your inhaler by your side at all times. This is vital because playing the saxophone requires a lot of air, and it can be difficult for those of us who struggle with breathing. It’s crucial to prepare yourself for an emergency.
  • Make sure to talk to both your instructor and a friend in the ensemble. Having more people aware of your asthma is a great way to ensure you get the help you need. Ensure that you have a conversation with them about what to do in case of an emergency.
  • If you’re playing in a marching band, play an alto, or even a soprano, if allowed. I know how fun it is to play larger saxophone variants like the tenor and baritone, but they require a lot of air, which, in combination with the exercise, might trigger an attack. Stick to smaller variants that require less air.
  • Don’t be afraid to take breaks or opt-out of performances. You’re the only one who can truly judge your body’s feelings and needs. You have the right to take the proper steps to prevent emergencies, even if that includes taking breaks or opting out of certain activities or performances.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. Your health is a priority, and it’s important to remember this while playing the saxophone with asthma.

Final Thoughts

While it can be challenging to play the saxophone with braces, piercings, long nails, asthma, and other external factors, playing the instrument you love is still possible.

However, it’s important to prioritize your comfort, safety, and health. You know what’s best for you, and while you might have to make compromises along the way, maintaining your overall health is always worth it.