The Aurus Diaphragm Trainer (ADT) is a new device that promises to help one develop a better and more robust air stream.
In the past, I have tried another type of air training device which requires you to blow into a plastic tube with very little resistance. The air lifts a ping pong ball inside a purple cylinder and the challenge is to keep it up for as long as you can. You have to use a lot of air (that’s the point). And then you transfer this feeling and concept to the clarinet.
I have to say that it worked, but the device was too bulky to keep in my instrument case, and I got paranoid about the sanitation of the cylinder. In the end, I stopped using this device altogether, which is unfortunate because it was quite expensive.
The compact ADT solves several of the issues that I had with the other device: it’s small, portable, and easily cleaned. Join me as I take it for a spin to find out if it offers a compelling solution to air stream training, or if it’s just another small accessory with big promises that will end up gathering dust in my drawer.
- Elegant design
- Compact and portable
- Easily cleaned in the sink
- Great in realizing one’s potential air supply
- One can play their instrument while having the device installed
- Time consuming to adjust when switching instruments, especially on larger mouthpieces
- Limited availability (only one dealer in the world)
- Feels very “poky” when in use
- Expensive (over $40 USD shipped)
- Students will require guidance to use
Design and Fit
The packaging for the ADT is simply a folded piece of paper with a little plastic box inside. You will want to be sure to keep this packaging around since it displays some important information about how to install and use the device.
The ADT itself is meant to be installed on the mouthpiece of any single reed instrument (clarinet and saxophone) and leak the air while you blow. This means that you have to use more and faster air to get a sound in order to compensate for the loss of air caused by the device.
The ADT is comprised of two primary materials: a stainless steel structure, and some kind of hard, yet rubbery, silicone-like material that surrounds the hard metal part and attaches to the mouthpiece. The metal rod has a little screw on the end that goes through the device is for adjusting the size and grip on the mouthpiece. The round, “poky” parts go between the upper lip and the softer material, which causes a lifting the upper lip to create the air leak.
Using the device
Once installed, you simply play the instrument as you would normally without the ADT. As promised, the leaking air will cause you to have to blow much harder, and it is almost impossible to make a sound without engaging the diaphram (which is, of course the point.)
After a short time of exercise, you uninstall the device and play without it. Having just played with abnormally fast and large quantity of air, you are likely to naturally try to play this way. Now the sound is much fuller and larger due to the exercise conditioning you to use faster air in a large quantity.
I must say that it feels very strange while using the ADT due to the poking sensation caused by the rounded tips. It doesn’t exactly hurt, but it is still quite uncomfortable and takes some getting used to.
Official Installation/Use Video from Aurus
The ADT can be used by any single reed player at any level. I have used it on both my clarinet and tenor saxophone set ups. It was easier to install on my clarinet mouthpiece (Vandoren M30D) than it was on my tenor saxophone mouthpiece (Otto Link 7). I also found I was able to make more sound on the clarinet. I suspect this might be due to the size of the ADT- the tenor saxophone mouthpiece is of course quite a bit bigger than the clarinet’s, and it also has a much longer lay (the much larger reed vibrates off much longer rails, that go farther away from the mouth and the device).
Will Students Benefit?
Beginners normally have a problem unlocking their large air supply, conceptually, and physically. They may also have trouble effectively finding and using the diaphragm, and this device will help them with that. I would especially recommend this to beginners for this reason.
However, the installation method of the device was not obvious to me. Even with the written instructions and videos online I had to make estimated guesses as to how this device works (which of course became more clear to me after I started using it).
Another issue worth considering is that it can be difficult (at least in Canada) to justify these kinds of products to parents. Most students do not have a large budget for accessories like this, and with a $40 USD price tag the money for most students would be better spent on improved reeds, a proper mouthpiece, an upgraded instrument, or even lessons in the first place.
Since the ADT is easy to clean, but expensive and tricky to use, it might be best for teachers to invest in one for their studio, but not insist that every student purchases.
I like this device. It works. It is elegant in design and useful in concept.
I like this device. It works. It is elegant in design and useful in concept. But it is expensive (costing over $40 USD shipped directly from the manufacturer).
However, I think for beginners looking to “find” their air stream, or for a serious advancing student who may be on the threshold of excellence (but perhaps could use more and faster air in their playing) the ADT will help them realize the full potential of their fast air stream.