Tonguing Help Needed!

Tonguing Help Needed!

Tonguing Help Needed!    12:09 on Monday, January 25, 2010          

(157 points)
Posted by Pyface

Hi all!

In one of my exam pieces (ABRSM Grade 4) I have a piece which is the 'Ground Force' theme (It's an old gardening program).
It has fast semi-quavers which are staccato and I'm struggling to tongue them fast enough. The semi-quavers are at 112, and if you type in 'Ground Force theme' on Google, you'll hear the bit I am struggling with on ''!
Does anyone have any tips on fast tonguing?


Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    15:38 on Monday, January 25, 2010          

(157 points)
Posted by Pyface

P.S, I play on a Vandoren 2.5 reed. Do you think changing the reed may help?

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    17:20 on Monday, January 25, 2010          

(1 point)
Posted by meli28

Having a smaller reed size would definitely make tonguing a lot easier, maybe break in your reed more. The best way to get it though is to just practice your tonguing, and eventually you will fast enough. If you can, you could also try double tonguing, but that is a bit more difficult.

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    07:40 on Tuesday, January 26, 2010          

(186 points)
Posted by jvanullen

I would say play on the reed that you get the best tone with. If you are comfortable on 2.5's and like the sound you're getting, I would just stick with them.

The tongue is a muscle just like your bicep. The more staccato practice you do, the stronger and faster your tongue will get. It's the same principle as working out any part of your body. Try, with a metronome, tonging legato quarters up and down a scale. Then switch to tonging staccato, tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed. The motion of legato and staccato should be the same.

Most importantly, support and keep the air moving. If you're stopping your air and "huffing" staccato, it will never be as clean and as fast as you want it to be. Just remember to practice, practice, practice! I have friends here at school that do up to two hours of staccato practice a day! Me? Not so much, but I still work on it diligently everyday.

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    16:09 on Wednesday, January 27, 2010          

(56 points)
Posted by tmheimer

The method I learned from Leon Russianoff 37 years ago--worked for me within 2-3 months: Start with C below the staff. Play: CCCDE. Now CCCDEEEFG. Do this MANY times. Now CCCDEEEFGGGABBBC--continue back down scale without stopping-BBBAGGGFEEEDC-hold the C. Now do this as fast as you can many times without any "slop". Next try it a little faster. Repeat hundreds of times 'til you can do the faster speed each time perfectly. Next, do it 2 octaves up & down. The theory is that at some points you are tonguing 3 different notes fast in a row-- ei: CC CDE E EFG, etc. Now just tongue the C scale up & down with no repeated notes. Now do it in all scales. Good luck. This is included in my hopefully soon to be published "The Most Advanced Clarinet Book". Tonguing was my big fault when in H.S. After doing this excercise it quickly became perhaps my best asset.


Oh, I've used the same reed as you since forever.

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    16:54 on Wednesday, January 27, 2010          

(157 points)
Posted by Pyface

Thanks, this should help!!!

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    18:58 on Monday, March 01, 2010          

(52 points)
Posted by JazzyPick

A smaller size reed would help. I haven't listened to the piece yet, though. I don't think double tounging is appropiate for this situation because the piece is being played at 112 b.p.m. Double tounging could help if you are playing 16th notes or more compllicated rhythms or if you are playing with 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8 time signature and etc. In that case, I totally recommend it.

PS: Double tounging at not very fast tempos is very awkward. Trust me. I know. Good Luck!

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    11:50 on Tuesday, March 02, 2010          

(712 points)
Posted by contra448

All clarinet reeds come the same size but they do come in different strengths!

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    12:23 on Wednesday, March 03, 2010          

(52 points)
Posted by JazzyPick

Let me clatify myself. When I said get a smaller reed size, I meant thickness. (3, 3 1/2, 4...) Sorry for any confusion or misunderstanding.

Re: Tonguing Help Needed!    02:23 on Sunday, May 30, 2010          

(35 points)
Posted by AllanMc

I think everyone means well, but you have missed the point. I would actually say that you should go for a reed that matches your mouthpiece, so find what work for you. A new reed actually has more spring to it, and will produce a faster articulation. Just make sure you break it in properly first.

Don't try to muscle your way through it. Tonguing is 95% air and 5% tongue. Focus on making your tongue light with minimal movement: less movement that the blinking of an eye, and gentle like the flapping of a butterflies wings.

Also practise your tonguing without the instrument by saying "too, too, too" in the rhythm of the piece. When you can do that at tempo, add the instrument and you may be surprised at how much easier it is.

Finally, something one of my university professors taught me is to take some text (anything) and read it very clearly and articulately. Then play. Somehow the act of speaking clearly helps to get the tongue primed.


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