The concept promoted by the Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser is not new for we have known of the basic concept for a long time. This exercise was first shared with me by an old circus cornet player many years ago. Years later it was shared again when I played under Merle Evans in the Ringling Barnum and Bailey Circus. Mr. Evans shared two exercises which had used for building his “chops” while on the road directing the circus.
The first exercise begins with a telephone directory. Select about a half inch of pages from the center of the directory. While bending forward, place the selected pages between your lips and suspend the book with pleasure on the pages from your embouchure. Suspend the book until you feel the “burn” start to build in your lip muscles. Do this a couple times a day and each day select five fewer pages. Gradually the width of the selected pages will diminish and the benefits of the exercise will increase. Continue this removal of pages until you are able to suspend the directory with only one page.
The second exercise is called “the pencil exercise.” Place the end of a pencil between your lips and through muscle compression; support the pencil so that it points straight out from your mouth. Hold that position until the burn starts in your embouchure. Then rest. Do this several times a day making sure that you don’t over do the exercise. This will also build strength in your embouchure.
Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser
This device is based on the previously mentioned “pencil” exercise and should be considered as a third possible routine even though it follows the pencil concept.
When you purchase your new P.E.T.E., the package will include the device and an instruction sheet. It is very important that you read all of the information for there are a few warnings and suggestions that should be followed. You are often told in the instructions that the device is not a substitute for real practice. Good advice! This tool is to be used when you are away from your instrument; it is not a substitute for your instrument. Another suggestion is “do not practice your horn immediately after using the device”. This is also good advice for after your routine on the PETE, your embouchure will be fatigued and any playing on your mouthpiece could cause a problem. The manufacturer suggests that you wait an hour or two before playing your instrument.
Exercise #1 is something new to me and I was very skeptical until I tried it. Whereas the pencil exercise works primarily on the center of your embouchure, exercise #1 develops what the manufacturer calls the muscles used for “power and stamina” which affects more of the facial muscles around the opening of your mouth. The larger end of the device is placed between the teeth and the inside of the lip to execute the first exercise. Place the large end into position and “gently pull the exerciser forward with your thumb and forefinger. You will feel the disk pulling your lips away from your teeth. Resist this action with your lip muscles.” This is obviously an addition to the old pencil exercise for it requires you to use additional lip muscles.
Exercise #2 is identical to the pencil exercise with the exception of the weight of the device. The PETE device is much heavier. When I started working out with the PETE, like most people, I didn’t read the instruction and immediately placed it and began to use it. I quickly determined that the instructions are there for a reason. A few days after starting the exercises, I noticed that the strength in my lip was increasing and at the same time my lower lip was being forced up into my mouthpiece. Strength is good; an excessive amount of lower lip in mouthpiece is not good. I then decided it was a good time to read the instructions. Sure enough, I had overlooked an important suggestion in the instructions. It stated, “Note: It is not necessary to let go of the PETE to support it solely with your chops.” That was the reason I was starting to reposition my lower lip when playing. I was building the strength in my lower lip faster than the upper in order to suspend the added weight of the device. VERY BAD IDEA! I took a couple days off the device and reestablished my original lip position, then began following the instructions. It is very important that you also follow the included instructions.
“It works, but follow the instruction.”
- Is it worth the cost? Yes.
- If money is tight, could I get equal benefits from the telephone book or pencil exercises? I can’t say.
- Will I benefit from the telephone book and pencil exercises? Yes.
Cost of Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser- $39.50
Cost of telephone book- $0.00
Cost of pencil- $0.02