Please note these are NOT reviews from magazines or blogs, the following quotes have all been supplied by customers who have purchased and used the STRATOS Embouchure System:
… Having purchased the Stratos nearly a year ago and done nothing with it I thought it time to find out what it was all about before placing among the numerous other chops gadgets I’ve collected over the years.
I can honestly say that Marcus has given me plenty to think about !! He knows how the chops work and quickly identifies what needs doing to put things in the right place … using the Stratos helped me tremendously in identifying the old bad habits and start on the road of creating new, good habits that I believe will eventually lead to a solid technique. I’d even go as far to say that without the use of the Stratos I’d have been unable to let go of my old habits and therefore not felt the benefit of having my chops “in the right placed”.
This item will not end up on the shelve as I will now be working with the Stratos on a daily basis to help iron out my inefficiencies and make playing easier and even more enjoyable with far less mouthpiece to face pressure.
I really enjoyed the morning with Marcus and found his approach, concepts and enthusiasm very refreshing. I’m still amazed that after using the Stratos playing a C above the stave feels like playing C in the stave and how close together the notes have become.
Tony Farrell – Bandleader and Trumpeter
“I was introduced to Marcus by a former student of his. Marcus has guided me back into playing by teaching me a newly shaped embouchure, and with the support of Stratos, I’ve seen an improvement in my playing using the less pressure method. I’ m so pleased to have been given a second chance as a brass player. Lessons with Marcus are full of ongoing observation and assessment and he is mindful in his thinking for success. He teaches with empathy and positivity, and his skillful knowledge of the embouchure has helped me back from ‘nothing’ to being able to take part in the 2016 ‘International Brass Band Summer School.’
I have everything to thank him for as he is the Teacher who puts the BUZZ back in his students playing.
Mary Goodland – Baritone Horn player
“… After more than 20 years as a professional horn player and a further 10+ as a brass band player, playing at all levels and all instruments, I thought I was as cynical as anyone. Yes I had weaknesses but was pretty convinced that I would have to live with them and that nothing could be done.
It wasn’t until I was asked to play Soprano for the area contests, 2nd section that I was forced to rethink. The piece in question had the Sop playing for the vast majority of the piece, usually in the upper register and with a clutch of high C’s including the obligatory ff ending on said high C. What was I to do? I could probably bluff most of it but was determined to rise to the challenge.
Luckily I had met Marcus some time back and was aware of his Stratos system and his theory behind embouchure strengthening. Having taught brass for more than 30 years, I agreed with his thinking so thought I would give it a try.
The improvement was immediate and impressive. Just 10 minutes a day as part of the warm up, and the occasional few minutes to remind the chops, gave me the strength and endurance to play this particular piece well, aiding the band towards promotion and massively adding to my self esteem. I have even started doing stand up Sop solos. The improvements didn’t stop there; the next time I picked up the Bb cornet was to play solo cornet at Buxton in the top section. It was easy. The band won. Next was the Grand Shield, this time as bumper up. Now I seemed to have limitless endurance. High D’s on the cornet were now within easily playable range.
Ensuring that my airflow is correctly directed, that I am breathing properly, and that I keep mouthpiece pressure to a minimum were all aspects that I knew about but had been unable to put sufficiently into practice until the STRATOS forced me to.
I wholeheartedly recommend this system to any brass player. Allied to a sensible practice routine, you WILL feel and hear pleasing results very quickly …”
Grenville Moore – Professional horn player, Head of Music St George’s School – Salford and MD Dobcross Silver Band
“… STRATOS is particularly useful in my warm-up, to focus my mind on the basics of a good embouchure set-up. Really useful … a great bit of kit …”
David Pyatt – Principal Horn, London Philharmonic Orchestra
“After spending well over twenty years unsuccessfully trying to repair a badly damaged embouchure, my friend Andrew Joy told me about Marcus Reynolds’ unique invention, the STRATOS. It turned out to be a key element in finally rebuilding my embouchure, and Marcus went way beyond the call of duty in creating a new version of the STRATOS to fit my horn. Thank you, Marcus, for your brilliant invention.”
Robert Martin – Frank Zappa alumni and horn student of Mason Jones at The Curtis Institute
“I have tried the STRATOS every day for the past week, and I am completely amazed at the improvement in my playing. I only use it for 5 minutes, just after my warm up. However that seems to be enough for me to ‘reprogramme’ my embouchure for the remainder of my practice session.
Perhaps for the first time, I have a sensation that my lower lip is actually buzzing! It isn’t only my upper register that is better, the whole feel of the instrument across all registers seems to be easier and without strain. I can play longer phrases in one breath and the % of split notes is vastly reduced. There are a few pieces I have been working on recently, with a few tricky passages – the Stratos has ‘fixed’ 99% of the tricky parts, primarily because it has removed the tension from my body.”
Ray Galt – Trombone Player with 30 years experience in Championship brass bands.
“STRATOS will help trumpet players to greatly reduce the mouthpiece pressure, which is the bane of all trumpet students.”
Gerald Douglas – Head of Brass, Nottingham High Boys School
“The least pressure I have used in 42 years, STRATOS (is) the best tonic for the Chops – double A’s fantastic !”
John Hudson – Geneva Trumpets
“… I am an amateur player. I tell you this so you understand that the STRATOS is not simply a tool for professionals to improve their playing but a device that will improve any players quality and range. I have had the STRATOS for just over a month now and with the limited playing I am able to do I have already noticed a big difference in three quite distinct areas.
- The quality of the sound I produce is much cleaner and brighter. It’s like when you get back in to your car after a full service, everything seems to sound right and purrs along with an ease that wasn’t there before.
- The ability to self-correct my embouchure. I have a tendency to puff out my right cheek. Marcus is always telling me and I believe him except until I got the STRATOS, I couldn’t feel it. Now I can feel it and this has meant that I can correct it as it begins. It still happens but it is taking longer to appear and the facility to hold my embouchure strong is giving me the third improvement.
- Stamina – I can play for much longer now. The STRATOS stops me jamming my mouthpiece onto my face to keep going through a rehearsal or performance. I am so much more aware of the mechanics of trumpet playing that I seem to be able to play better and for longer.
I arrive at band practice prepared and confident that I will perform to a higher standard than just one month ago …”
…and one month later
“… I am in the middle of a run of “In The Heights”, a brilliant new musical from America, being performed by Guthlaxton College in Wigston, Leicestershire. It has given my practice a real focus as there are a whole range of complex rhythms and lots of counting. The first trumpet part has some Stratospheric (did you see what I did there?) notes and I am playing them! – Yes! I am playing them! In just over a month since I last wrote about STRATOS , my range has increased by a major fourth. All the other benefits (Stamina, Quality, embouchure) are still there. I am loving it! Yes, I have done a lot of practice but without STRATOS, I would not have extended my range …”
Paul Farrell – Amateur trumpet player
“… I have always impressed on my students the need for good technique and embouchure. A good posture, breathing and the need for the embouchure muscles to contract in towards the mouthpiece as you go up have always been key to my teaching.
The beauty of the STRATOS is that it straight away puts the player in the correct position for all this to happen. For the student it means that they HAVE to be in the right position to play. For the advanced player, easing the jaw forward takes the pressure off the top lip (have you ever known the bottom lip to get tired?) or as Marcus says, ‘takes the weight off’. The result is more relaxation, an opening of the sound, greater range and greater endurance. What more is there to want?
I use the STRATOS with my pupils and I use it myself. On a personal level, this year I have played six performances of Brandenberg 2 and been the featured soloists in Maynard’s arrangement of Birdland. I couldn’t have done either without the help of STRATOS.
Get one and enjoy ‘the sizzle’ …”
Steve Foster – Head of Brass and Percussion, Oakham School, Rutland
“… I discovered that I am a downstream player after seeing your video and analysing my playing. I have been playing for 45 years and am amazed how a few practices with the STRATOS has already taken the weight off my playing. My range seems to be improving in the higher register …”
Phil Cleave – Euphonium player The Totnes band, ex Hanwell band and Soundhouse in Plymouth
“…I have recently had braces fitted and the (excessive) pressure (on the mouthpiece) returned but when I used the STRATOS the weight went away quickly and I could soon play just as well as when I had no braces. The STRATOS helped my playing so much that I think it should be a must have for any brass player, as it has helped me to improve my overall playing and posture.”
Joe Hilyer – Trombone student
“… I only wish the STRATOS had been around during my 32 years brass teaching for the Cambridge Eduction Authority. It is amazing what this embouchure tool can do. It can save a teacher weeks of talking and trial and error, when working with pupils with embouchure problems. Not only that, but it can increase the upper range for those with no embouchure problems whatsoever… ”
David Read MBE – Ex Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, GUS (Footwear) Band , Kings of Brass, Virtuosi Band. Welsh Guards Band.
“… After some degree of decline, my playing completely broke down in the middle of a concert a few years ago. I had played soprano with many of the best Midlands bands for over 20 years. It was a grim experience. I tried everything – or so I thought. Marcus and his STRATOS tool have restored my confidence and ability to play again. What more need I say. Thank you, Marcus …”
Bob Stradling – Member of Virtuosi GUS cornet section, MD Daventry Brass
“… If I’d have had a STRATOS before I may not have had to retire so early! …”
Terry Lax – Former principal trumpet of the Welsh National Opera (WNO)
“… I am thrilled with the transformation taking place in my playing through using your STRATOS. My sound is blossoming in the high register (French Horn g2 – g3). A troubling break is disappearing and I’m gaining a lot more control over my sound production.
You’ve under promised and over delivered. Thanks a million …”
Andrew Joy – Top professional French Horn player
“… Wow! That was a Eb above Eb! And no red mark on my lips …”
Stephen Sykes – Trombone soloist, has performed with Black Dyke and the Cory Bands
“… As an educator and a trombone player, I was so amazed with the STRATOS as a beneficial aid for the chops (lips) that every brass player should have. I believe this to be an invaluable tool for busy educators like myself. I would recommend it to all brass students …”
Ld. Chris Jeans – International Trombone Soloist
“… When Marcus first introduced me to STRATOS I was very sceptical. But I did have a problem pupil who was finding it difficult to change to my suggested embouchure to improve range and sound. Keeping the new embouchure was a real problem and we were getting no-
where. We decided to give the STRATOS a go.
After only 2 days of trying to play with it on she was making the best sound I had ever heard her make. She is now working on the range and at last we are getting somewhere.
I was so impressed with the result that I have bought one for myself and to try with other pupils. Playing on it for 10 minutes a day really helps to keep the embouchure functioning in the correct way. I am now making a really free sound in all the registers and I shall continue to practice with the STRATOS. I would suggest that this is an must for any brass teacher or performer. Well done Marcus!! …”
Pamela Wedgewood – Composer, educator and professional French horn player.
“…Since studying with Marcus my range has gone up over an octave (beyond double C), my endurance has increased and my sound is bigger and richer. The STRATOS has helped me to develop my range and muscles around my embouchure by forcing me to not rely on pressure. I play a lick with the STRATOS on making me work a bit harder; once I take the chin rest off the same lick just flies out …”
Jim Woolley – Trumpet student of Marcus’s
“… At the age of 66, after a lapse of 20 years, albeit a self-taught trombone player I have currently reformed a 5-
piece trombone group. I met Marcus at the Welsh college [hosting the British Trombone Society weekend], and was exposed to the STRATOS. I tried it, and was so impressed as to its potential I am now the proud owner of one. My range has increased from struggling with a top C, which has been blown away with a top F played with consistency and ease. Not bad for a 76 year old! …”
John Spruce – Trombonist
“… I suddenly found I could hit top notes on top notes! Other members of the orchestra could suddenly hear me at last, because of the increased volume I had achieved. Then I found myself leading rather than following. Marcus’s training is brilliant. He is very supportive, builds confidence and stimulates my musical ego! …”
Ian McKay – French horn student of Marcus’s
“… The STRATOS is teaching me how to play with minimal pressure, and once I had developed my chops to play this way suddenly notes literally went stratospheric! A high C with the STRATOS on shot up to the G above unintentionally and the double C above was suddenly attainable without painfully squashing my lips into the mouthpiece. Marcus has produced a embouchure tool that is sure to revolutionize teaching and practicing brass instruments. His patient advice and teaching has helped me at times to produce such a massive tone from the trumpet that I have looked at the instrument in shock and disbelief – an incredible chop guru. With a bit more practice hopefully that sound will become the norm! …”
– James Firmin – Trumpet student of Marcus’s