Imagine that you are running through a very muddy field. You can only run slowly as your mud-caked shoes are so heavy and the soft mud pulls at your feet when you try and lift them. Then you swap your muddy footwear for a clean pair of trainers and the mud for a running track. What was hard work suddenly becomes much easier and you can fly along at great speed. This slightly ridiculous analogy is what I think it feels like to practice and play both before and after using the Stratos Embouchure System on your instrument.
Watching medal-winning athletes perform at the Winter Olympics might suggest that such performances can only come from hard training and practice, practice and more practice. Yes this is part of the picture, but here’s the rub, the old maxim that “ Practice makes perfect” ISN’T TRUE. What practising does is, lock what you practise into memory and makes it PERMANENT! This is why practising should be thoughtful and methodical as your muscle memory will ghost up any practised faults in your later performances.
As with many other areas of life the Internet is rapidly becoming the “go to” resource for aspiring brass players attempting to improve their technique or musicianship. There are some great resources out there and, as a professional trombonist my own thinking has always been that almost every musician can teach you something new. However I would add a couple of words of caution. Firstly just because a player or teacher that you are watching is on an internet media platform does not mean that they have instantly become an authoritative figure, or that everything they say is indisputable fact.
Secondly brass players, like all human beings, are wonderfully different. This coupled with differences in instrument and mouthpiece mean that each musician-instrument combination is pretty much unique. It follows therefore that there is no one size fits all method to becoming a great player. A tip here would be if you settle to learn something from one of these players and, if after a reasonable amount of time of working the techniques, you still feel that you are not progressing then move on to something different. More harm will be done by a player (or even worse a teacher) that insistently believes that there is only one way to do something. I don’t coach like that and I have had some stunning results with players who’ve struggled with other teaching methods in the past.
Introducing Stratos into your regime of practise will really help to release all the restraint in some of the techniques you are applying to your playing, it will almost feel like having your instrument taken out of a bag and shown the daylight for the first time. Stratos will allow you to shake off that mud and release the full potential of your own wonderfully unique musician-mouthpiece-instrument combination.
So if you don’t like my daft mud-caked analogy then here’s the challenge. Get your own Stratos and after you’ve had your short, free Skype session with me, describe the free sensation you feel when you remove the chin rest and play post-Stratos. One particular trumpet-playing client, comes immediately to mind. When we had finished the free Skype session, he literally burst into laughter, such were the fantastic results. No kidding.