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Beginner Tonguing & Squawking

ktmdom

Senior Member
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47
Location
UK
Hi there folks,

This is my first post outside of the Doorbell so please go easy.
I've been having lessons now for just over a month and am moving on to slurs. But I have been cheating myself and need to get out of a bad habit. Instead of tonguing each first note I'm just blowing through the mouthpiece.
This past week I have been practicing at home when doing scales F major, G major... Tonguing each note.

First I'll play a scale all in one hit... well part way. Just so to make sure my mouth is in the correct position. Then I'll try tonguing it, and on some notes esp. upper register I'll get a right squawk. If I just blow through the mouthpiece though (Bad habit) I can hit these notes fine.

Thanks for any advice

Dom
 
I've had the last week off work so I've had plenty of time to practice. When I first started it sounded raspy I think that was because of excess slobber!
When I don't think about what I'm trying play or do with my mouth I can usually tongue notes OK. But thats only if I'm not trying to read music and just hitting random keys on the sax.
I think your right I'm probably trying too hard.
 
When you are tongueing, you should be using your tongue as a switch to stop the reed vibrating - the same amount of air pressure should exist behind your tongue when you have your tongue on the reed, as exists when your tongue is off the reed and a note is sounding.

I guess what I'm saying is you shouldn't need any extra air pressure to restart the note (which might be what is causing the squawking)

You can try this with just your lips and tongue - breath out of a small opening between your lips, then stick the tips of your tongue in the gap, then remove your tongue and let the air continue to flow (maybe try this in private, you don't want the person sitting opposite you in the train wondering what you're up to!)
 
A common problem with beginning players is moving too much of the tongue too far in the mouth. A related issue is moving the jaw when tonguing. A good way to check and to practice is to play first finger B while looking in a mirror. Tongue the note repeatedly with a light "du" syllable touching just the tip of the reed with the part of the tongue just behind the tip. Focus on moving the tongue the smallest distance possible to complete the task. While tonguing, take your free hand and touch beneath your jaw. There should be no movement of the jaw, and you should feel no movement of the tongue as well.
 
Thanks very much for the usful tips I'll try this out tomorrow. At the moment I'm practicing for about an hour a day, so I'll give it a go.
 

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