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Single Tonguing Speed

Lewis.S

Member
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117
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Hertfordshire, England
Hi guys,

I've been having a really disheartening issue with tonguing speed. For the past year I've realised that I can't tongue very fast - born with a wide tongue! My teacher thinks I've got the potential to take my playing to professional level and study at a conservatoire, but is an below par tonguing speed gonna ruin any chance I had as a career in jazz saxophone? Has anybody got any advice? Overcame a similar problem? My teacher couldn't help, shes's a first study clarinettist, has a devilishly fast tonguing speed and never had an issue, so can't help me. I might just be making a fuss about nothing, but I just wanted to get this off my chest and maybe a few outside opinions.
Thanks,
Lewis
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,964
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Manchester, UK
I would have thought fast tonguing was more of an issue with classical than jazz. But how have you been working on the issue so far? Why do you think it isn't working?
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
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My ex-wife Tamsin cannot flutter-tongue but did her music degree on tenor horn (USA alto horn). And she has played with some top bands at championship level and is known for her beautiful tone.

Now I know that flutter-tonguing on tenor horn is not precisely the same as tonguing a sax, but it may use similar muscles.

Her tutor, the highly respected Howard Snell, took her to task saying "Of course you can flutter tongue!" upon which she quoted the various medical authorities, having previously done a couple of years of a nursing degree during which she researched her problem. Howard Snell conceded the argument in good humour, tickled by the fact that a student had stood her ground - many staff and students were rather in awe of him...

If you can make your tongue roll itself into a tube you can't flutter tongue - and vice versa, it seems. (EDIT: see further information and correction later in thread)

So - as Colin says considerably more briefly - fake it. If a brass player can fake it, a sax player may be able too, as well.

There is another possibility, with a different cause - and that is the frenulum (the little web of tissue under the tongue) could be short.

In extreme cases this can cause people to be 'tongue-tied' but is easily cured by a very minor procedure under local anaesthetic.

Your doctor could check this for you. But make sure you specify the frenulum under the tongue... there are others.

And yeah, as the others say, if you aren't tied to reading someone else's dots all the time no problem.
 
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kernewegor

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Is that nope you agree or nope you disagree?
 

BigMartin

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If you can make your tongue roll itself into a tube you can't flutter tongue - and vice versa, it seems.
As Nick said: nope. As in, I can do both. Well, I can flutter tongue on the flute a bit. It's a lot harder with a mouthpiece in your gob.
 
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jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I had a wonderful teacher once who helped me to understand that fast tonguing was not a speed problem, but an endurance problem. Most people can tongue quite fast when playing a short group of notes. The problem arises when more and more notes are added. I have uploaded an exercise that helped me with my tonguing "endurance" as well as many of my more advanced students. The idea is to practice scales using the rhythm patterns shown with a metronome gradually increasing the tempo as you progress. The key, of course, to fast tonguing is to move the least amount of the tongue the shortest distance possible and to utilize the airstream to help the tongue "rebound".

Tonguing Drill
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
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1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi,

what is fast, what is slow, what does "below par" mean?
How did you "work on" tonguing speed?

Maybe this could be helpful although it is for clarinet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fi4G1JwvKE

I don't think that there is much of a thing like "born with", I think it is coordination of airstream and tongue movement, which might be different in Jazz or legit playing.
The tongue is a complicated thing, and there is more sitting there than speed, there is a Chakra sitting next, as Harvey Pittel states here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01yivwuxxKQ


Cheers,
Guenne
 

Chris

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If you went to 'Berkeley' had 'George Garzone' as tutor, you would not have to worry 'tonguing'. As he advocates articulation comes from the fingers. All the students he see's all tongue to much.

Chris..
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
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cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
I can do both.

Big Martin said:
As Nick said: nope. As in, I can do both. Well, I can flutter toungue on the flute a bit. It's a lot harder with a mouthpiece in your gob.

Ah, right, taken on board.

It can't be 100%, then, must be just a high likelihood, or a reduced ability, or a high likelihood of reduced ability - I was quoting a discussion with Tamsin some time ago, so I didn't get it quite right.

Thanks for the information!

There is a tremendous pool of knowledge on this site when you think about it - some of it pretty arcane, too!
 
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kevgermany

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I can roll my tongue, but fast tonguing I find impossible. Maybe there's something in it, even if it's not absolute.
 

Lewis.S

Member
Messages
117
Locality
Hertfordshire, England
Thanks for all the responses! The videos are really helpful and thanks for the exercise jbtsax!
In the Michele Gingras video, is she not just tonguing very fast? I'm not sure how the example with the pencil is relevant?
 
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altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
Don't worry about tonguing, it'll get better with practice, some woodwind teachers seem to be obsessed by it...
If it's your burning ambition to be a jazz musician, rapid tonguing won't be an issue, most jazz I've heard doesn't have every note precisely tongued - quite the opposite in a lot of cases
 

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