Tonguing Tips for Woodwind Players

Tonguing Tips for Woodwind Players

Ben Opie
Melbourne, Australia

Tonguing Tips for Woodwind Players

Question:

Hi Ben, I'm wondering if you have any tips for tonguing. I feel like my tongue is quite sluggish and never does exactly what I tell it to do! I've avoided telling my teacher about it since she lets me choose a lot of the music I do, so I just choose music that doesn't have that much tonguing in it! (I'm in Year 11). I've heard about double tonguing, but maybe that's a bit advanced? Thanks!

Answer:

When you're thinking about articulation and tonguing, remember that the tongue has muscles in it. So we need to train those muscles and learn how to use them as efficiently as possible. 

My advice with any sort of practice where you're developing a technique is to set yourself some goals - with this one, you can do something as easy as playing your scales at a certain metronome marking (say 4 notes at crotchet = 60 as an example) and then tell yourself that every day for 2 weeks you'll increase the metronome by 1 or 2 notches. In 2 weeks you'll be tonguing around crotchet = 80 which is a dramatic increase! My rule for this sort of thing is I have to get it right 3 times in a row before I can increase the metronome marking! 

The other thing to know is that articulation actually has a lot to do with air, so just be aware of how fast you're blowing while you're working on this and experiment a bit. 

I think you're right with that for now, we can leave double tonguing. Once you are tonguing 4 notes at around crotchet = 130 or 140 we can move on to double tonguing. 

Thoughts from oboe-wan-benopie