Stratos – problems addressed

Excessive Pressure

This is the most commonly-found problem with young brass players and their embouchure.  It usually develops early on, when the performer, anxious to hit a note they find particularly high or challenging, discovers that increasing mouthpiece pressure seems to produce the desired result. The short-term advantage, however, is more than outweighed by the long-term damage.

Excessive pressure damages tone quality, flexibility and range.

Heavy mouthpiece pressure restricts the flow of blood to the lips, and they tire more quickly.  Players who use excessive pressure will not improve their endurance no matter how long they practice. This is because the muscles at the corners of the lips (which determine lip tension in a good, relaxed, embouchure) are hardly being used at all.

Symptoms of excessive pressure can include:

A “pressure ring” still visible 15 minutes after practice is over
A bruised or swollen lip
Less endurance than other players the same age
Poor, thin tone in the upper register

By encouraging a good “floating” jaw position, the STRATOS system reduces the need for mouthpiece pressure, and brings the right muscles into play. Whilst there’s no such thing as a “no pressure” embouchure, it is vital that young players eliminate bad habits if they want a long and healthy partnership with their chosen instrument.

Bill Watrous “It’s controlling the air and not putting myself in a state of stress. If I’ve got that mouthpiece up against my face where it’s almost going through to the teeth, there’s no way I can play the high register. I’ve made my whole life career of being able to play up there and not get into that disease of pressure….When I’m playing a lot I come off the stand and there’s almost no mark, some players look as though they have been hit by a truck!!”

The Music of Bill Watrous with solo transciptions and master class cd isbn-10: 0-3390-4490-7

Practice with Stratos and you can develop your range without the typical pressure mark.


Many younger brass players, just beginning to master their instruments, suffer real setbacks when their teeth need braces – for even a short period. Some use waxes, internal lip guards and other bizarre devices to keep on playing without cuts and bleeding.

It’s a tense time for kids, their teachers and their parents – especially in schools and communities where playing well in the band means so much to a child’s pride.

The STRATOS system will help most people with braces change their jaw position, and reduce the pressure applied between lips and mouthpiece. You should be able to play without pain – and improve your technique ahead of the day the braces come off.

 Bunched Chin

To create a good, relaxed embouchure, the chin and its muscles should remain flat.  Some players, however, thrust their chins upwards, creating a bunching effect.  This  reduces flexibility, and upper register notes will sound thin.

Using the STRATOS system encourages the right position, and helps players deliver even tone and quality across the range.

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Stratos can help players of trumpet, trombone, euphonium, French horn – and all brass instruments