Stratos Embouchure Trainer

Here’s something interesting I recently came across. The Stratos embouchure trainer. It purports to to help you, “adapt your embouchure to get the best from your newly-adjusted jaw position.” Here’s the inventor, trombonist Marcus Reynolds, explaining it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2cIIMUYiZA]

I have to admit going into the video that I was a little skeptical of the claims right off. Early on he makes a statement that the Stratos will eliminate a “red ring,” but a red ring in and of itself is a meaningless indicator of how much or little pressure a player is using. There’s too much individual variation here, but for some reason this myth is prevalent. He also discusses air stream direction as a matter of jaw alignment, which probably does have some influence, albeit a minor one. Air stream direction is dependent on the lip ratio inside the mouthpiece and you can have downstream players with a jaw position forward, like Reynolds is advocating, or upstream players with a receded jaw position.

My next point of contention is Reynolds apparent endorsement that getting the jaw forward and the horn angle up is best for everyone. It’s true that this is common, but not universal. Personally, trying to raise my horn angle and get my jaw position forwards has had very poor results, I simply play better with a receded jaw and a lowered horn angle. Not having tried out the Stratos, I can’t say that my results trying this would be the same or different, but I’ve taught too many other students and seen other players who also play best with a lowered horn angle to think that a Stratos would be helpful for these players.

However, there are a lot of players who would do better with the jaw position and horn angle that the Stratos apparently encourages. For these players, this device might be a very helpful practice aid. Since it’s adjustable, it might even be possible to alter the angle of it and use it for correctional procedures with players who don’t want their jaw position aligned. I don’t think it’s the panacea that Reynold’s seems to think it is, but it’s an interesting idea and it’s worth a closer look later.

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