Beginner How to teach a new player how to tongue


New Member
So, I'm working with some freshman saxes in my highschool band and one of them never properly learned how to tongue. He uses his throat instead of, well, the tongue so his articulations aren't distinct/well defined. Any tips or excercises to help him correct this habit?
Long Island
I used to do tip of my tounge to roof of my mouth. Tell him to relax his throat and bring the tip of the tounge to the tip of the reed.
To help with relatxation, he can litterally put a sock in the end of the neck in such a way that the resistance in nearly impossible to blow through. This is a clarinet trick, but seems apropriate for this. In theory, he'll have no choice but to relax just because of the pressure, and he'll play more relaxed without it becuase he exhaused the muscles that casue tension. I can't remember if the octave key should open right now...
As for actually tounging, I'd just have him tounge over and over again, making sure he pays attention to bringing the tip of his tounge to the tip of the reed. If he wants to do it without the sax, the motion can be praticed by bringing the tip of his tounge to where the gums and teeth separate, similar to trumpet articulation.
Both of these excercises are best done wothout the sax at first, just mouthpiece and neck (sax neck, that is :p).
Thats how I overcame my bad tounging habit.


old and opinionated
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Say "tst tst tst"* rapidly with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth right behind the top teeth. This teaches the motion of the tongue and the pressurized air required. Then insert the mouthpiece into the mouth and without blowing a full air stream to make the reed vibrate make a similar sound with the front of the tongue touching the tip of the reed. It helps a lot if the teacher can demonstrate this step. When the student can do this, then switch to a full air stream with a full tone. Once this is learned it also helps to demonstrate tonguing tu tu tu alternating with guh guh guh to demonstrate the difference in sound.

Some teachers especially those who teach flute and brass also use the analogy of spitting small pieces of uncooked rice of the tip of the tongue. I once had a guest teacher come to my beginning band class to work with the beginning flute players. She took about 16 of them into a large practice room and gave each a handful of uncooked rice to put in their mouth and had them practice spitting them out one at a time. There was rice all over the floor, the walls, the windows---a real mess. As you can probably guess, she was not invited back. ;)

* as in "tsetse fly"
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