Warburton P.E.T.E. Review
My Experience With The PETE Embouchure Trainer
Does the P.E.T.E embouchure trainer really work?
Well, a lot of trumpet players are asking that question, and you might want to read my whole article here, because I will share my personal experience with the Warburton P.E.T.E embouchure trainer, and let me tell you…
…my results might shock you!
First, perhaps in a scary way, but then it does have a happy ending. With embouchure results I never expected!
So let’s jump in and answer the question, is the Warburton PETE good or bad?
What Exactly is The P.E.T.E.?
P.E.T.E stands for personal embouchure training exerciser, and that is exactly what it is. You use it either as a tool to learn to focus your embouchure, or more commonly, as a tool to build strength and endurance in your lip muscles…
…or the “embouchure muscles”, as I prefer to call it.
It is a small device, small enough to keep in your pocket, and the pricing is surprisingly low, when considering the potential reward you might get out of it in the end. (You can click here to check current pricing at Amazon)
I think most of my readers already knew this, so I won’t spend any more time talking about this, but we’ll quickly move on to the P.E.T.E review and my experience with the P.E.T.E.
At First It Did Some Damage To Me
Well, that’s actually not really accurate, because I was the one hurting myself. It is with great humiliation that I have to confess that, even though I know a lot about chops and building muscles, I overdid it in the beginning.
This is very common, in fact, I talk about it in my article, trumpet isometric exercises, and I knew there was a big risk of overdoing it…
…yet, it still happened.
Here’s the deal…
As you can see on the picture, the P.E.T.E has two ends that look a bit different. One end has a disk on it, while the other is more like a “focus point” for the chops.
Now, right from the start I will say that the disc end is my favorite, but it took some time to come to this conclusion…
…and it took some time to figure out the optimal amount of training AND the optimal training frequency.
The two different ends and why you should not do too much
The purpose of the disc end of the P.E.T.E embouchure trainer is to put the disc between your teeth and you lips, close your lips, and then pull on the device with your fingers using your chops to resist this pull.
The other end of the P.E.T.E is formed with the purpose of squeezing the device from all directions with your lips. A bit similar to the pencil exercise for trumpet, but not exactly, as many trumpeters use the pencil exercise mainly trying to “hold the pen up” horizontally.
My big mistake…
I was excited when I first got the Warburton P.E.T.E because, just like any trumpeter, I wanted stronger chops.
Based on my previous knowledge, about how the muscles need time to recover (I have a history of gym training), I decided to only do two sets of the focus end and two sets of the disc end at first…
…well, good enough, but that is already 4 sets in total. This is too much for most people if you do them all at the same time of day ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO EXHAUSTION.
Stay with me here, this is important…
I was aware of this, so I tried to not go near exhaustion, but aperently I still wen too close to it. I did my 4 sets in the evening after my playing. I did my two sets of the disc end, until I felt the burn, about 60 seconds, give or take a few…
…and then I did the other, “focus” end of the P.E.T.E. for two sets. Now after each set I took a couple of minutes rest, but as I said, the training load was still too much and as a result…
…my playing started to suffer.
How it affected my trumpet playing
The four sets in the evening were too much and my lip muscles were not able to recover overnight. As a result my chops became stiff, unresponsive and I lost a lot of flexibility.
You see, even though I noticed worse results, I kept going for about a week, thinking “it’s supposed to get a bit worse before it gets better…my chops will adapt to the training load”…
…well, they didn’t. In fact I became weaker and weaker for every day, and as a guy with experience in bodybuilding, I kew this is 100% overtraining and will NOT end well…
…so I stopped!
However, even after stopping, it took me a couple of weeks just to get back to normal, and I was almost getting nervous, wondering if I had caused some permanent damage, in some way.
I was not giving up, but I needed to change my approach!
You see, there are two ways to go about building muscle, and one of them is SO MUCH BETTER, when it comes to embouchure muscles.
There Are Two Ways Of Building Muscle
There are two different approaches we can take when trying to gain stronger muscles in our body. They are both good but one of them is more suitable for big muscles like the chest muscles, your triceps and so on.
The first way is to do an exercise until you get tired and can no longer do it. Rest for a while, and then repeat a few more times. What happens here is that you are actually breaking down some of your muscle and because of that the brain goes:
…”Ah, we need to repair this muscle, and just to be on the safe side, let’s also make it a bit stronger than it was before, in case that fool should do something stupid like this again!”
The Pros and Cons of option 1
The pros of option 1, is that this is the way to go to gain the maximum amount of strength, in any of the muscles in your body. However, the bad side of option 1 is that, by doing it this way, the muscles need a lot of time to recover…
…often about 24-78 hours and often even more. This is especially true if we really go to exhaustion, with the bigger muscles, like your legs muscles for example. Now, it goes without saying, that we can’t rest 24-78 hours between our trumpet playing sessions. So what to do?
Well, enter: the better way…
The second way is to NOT go to exhaustion, but you only go to about 70-80% of what you can do. You STOP before you get tired, or when you are on the very edge of becoming tired. You see, this is enough to trigger a muscle building response from the brain and the nervous system, without breaking down any of the muscle fibers.
The Pros and Cons of option 2
Well, the cons is that, building strength this way will not result in the maximum amount of strength your body is capable of building. However, the good thing about it is that you do not need so much time to recover this way.
In fact, if going to only about say 75% of what you are capable of going, you can recover very rapidly. Depending on the circumstances, and what part of the body we are talking about, we can actually recover in just a few minutes (10-50 minutes).
Now, THIS is the absolute smartest way to go about building muscle strength, when it comes to your embouchure, because this way it won’t interfere as much with your trumpet routine.
What Would Option 2 Look Like With The P.E.T.E ?
If you only skimmed through the article this far, you now might want to slow down and really read carefully, because this is the part where we start to really see trumpet endurance and chop strength…
I started to do option 2 instead of option 1, and I immediately started to see improvements. I was gaining strength and trumpet endurance fast!
Instead of doing 4 sets in the evening I only did one single set at a time, and I never went more than to about 70-75% of exhaustion…
…but, instead I spread it out over the day and did it several times a day. This worked very well, because remember, when doing option 2, we recover very fast, allowing for multiple sessions a day without destroying us.
However, there was still a problem…
Having such an unfocused routine, with many sessions a day proved to be difficult in another way. Doing only one set, several times a day, having no exact routine made it difficult to remember doing and I soon started to skip session, simply because I forgot to do them.
Option 1 was easier in this way because, having a set routine, doing 4 sets in the evening, was easier to keep up mentally…
…but there was no way in hell I was going back to option 1, as that way almost ruined my chops, and option 2 was already proving itself to build my endurance in an impressive way.
Enter the solution…
My Solution – And How I Tripled My Endurance
So, I knew that I had to keep doing option 2, with sprinkled out sessions during the day. I just needed to figure out a clever way to get all the sessions into a routine. Preferable in a way that would make it easy and almost “automatic”. So I started thinking…
…”is there any activity I do, several times a day, that I could pair the P.E.T.E. training with?” …something that I do every day without fail and that is also sprinkled out over the day?
How about, when going to the bathroom!?!
Yes, that could work!!!
I started always carrying my Warburton P.E.T.E. embouchure trainer in my pocket and every time I went to the bathroom to take a pee, or whatever 😉 I simultaneously did a session with the P.E.T.E.
This was PERFECT because it gave me the perfect amount of rest between sessions, and they were all spread out naturally over the entire day.
Now, It took me a few days to program my brain and really start pairing the bathroom with the P.E.T.E, however with just a little effort, it became second nature and I started doing it automatically.
This resulted in about 6-8 training sessions every single day, doing it with in the “OPTION 1” style muscle building way. And it wasn’t long until I started seeing wast improvements in my trumpet endurance and embouchure strength.
Tripled Trumpet Endurance
Of course, it’s a bit hard to quantify something like endurance, but I would estimate that by doing “my bathroom sessions” I managed to almost triple my trumpet endurance…
…And this, in only about 8-10 weeks!
Vary the training with the different ends of the P.E.T.E
I vary the training between the disc end and the other end of the P.E.T.E, but for the most part I use the disc end. This is because the disc end tend to work my embouchure corners a bit more than the other end, and it is the corners that need to be strong, in order to have solid and good trumpet playing endurance.
The other end of the PETE embouchure trainer work a bit more on the center of the chops, and we really don’t need that much strenght in the center. Sure we need some, but not too much, as that will only give us unnecessary “stiff” chops, making us lose flexibility and good responsiveness.
The center of our chops is what’s doing the vibrating, after all, and that’s pretty much all it needs to do. Sure we have to have some surrounding embouchure strength in the center as well, but the point being that we need more in the corners of our embouchure and, because of that, it is wise to do structure the training in a way that we target the corners more often than the center.
Warburton P.E.T.E Review
This is my experience with the Warburton P.E.T.E. embouchure training exerciser and I hope you found it informative.
So to sum up the answer to the questions in the beginning of this article…
- Does the Warburton P.E.T.E. work for building embouchure strength?
- Is the Warburton P.E.T.E. good or bad?
- Does the Warburton PETE help with endurance?
Yes IF you use it in a smart way!
Using it correctly and using “option 2” it can do wonders for your embouchure strength and this will show itself mostly as greatly improved endurance.
On the other hand, if you do too much of it, and completely exhaust yourself you are better off not using it at all.
Personally, I tripled my endurance by using it and i still carry it around in my pocket on a daily basis, doing by bathroom sessions and it has truly been a great tool for me.
Give it a try, but make sure that your brain is turned “on” before giving it a go.
You can click here to check the current P.E.T.E pricing at Amazon.
Thanks for reading, and as always, keep practicing and remember to have fun while doing it!
Some F.A.Q’s about the P.E.T.E. Embouchure Training Exerciser
Q: How long should each set you do with the P.E.T.E be?
A: There is no one good answer to this. In fact, I don’t like to measure my sessions in seconds, or minutes. This is because, as I wrote in the article, we should not try to beat our own record by going to exhaustion (if using option 2 that is). It is better to just go by feel and stop when you are on the edge of starting to get tired. With time, that edge, will of course become further and further into the sets automatically. This is good and, by doing so, there is no need to time your sets.
Q: Will the P.E.T.E training device help with high notes as well?
A: For some people it helps, but for most people it is more more helpful for building endurance than the high register. Thats said, high notes, especially if playing them loudly, do require physical strength. And indeed the P.E.T.E. can be very useful for developing it.
In general though, just producing the right lip vibrations to get a high note frequency has more to do with the proper lip set up, focus of the air stream, tongue position inside the mouth and compression of the air, than raw strength. But, again, playing loudly and for extended periods of time in the upper register does require strength…so to make a long answer short: Yes, it can help!
Q: How many sessions per day can I do if I don’t go beyond 70%
A: With time, you can do many! That said, even though going with option 2 (never going past 70-80%) allows you for more sessions, it can still be a bit taxing for your muscles at first. So you should build slowly even if choosing option 2. Start with two sessions a day and add more as the days go by. You can pretty quckly add more though. I’m up to 6-8 sets a day myself and I think that is a pretty good amount. More won’t necessarily make you stronger because there is always a point of diminishing returns, when it comes to biological stuff.
Q: Will the P.E.T.E. help me play low notes?
A: Using the “non disc end” helps focus your chops. Having focused chops does indeed help with low notes, as long as you learn to master the right amount of thension in the center. Answer: yes!
Q: Can the P.E.T.E. embouchure training exerciser help with playing loud notes?
A: Yes, absolutely. Playing loudly takes much more embouchure strength than playing pianissimo.
Q: Can the P.E.T.E. help me play softer with a better response?
A: Perhaps, but don’t count on it. If you want to get better at playing softly you need to practice a lot of soft playing and work on your efficiency. Check out my article, how to get rid of airy sound when playing the trumpet. In that article I have a few tips on how to become more efficient.