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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000647.txt from 1997/12

From: "John Gates" <>
Subj: Re: Tonguing
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 12:22:15 -0500

I'm going to spend some time trying all this. But I also have an offer,
which I will be posting. I am willing to give anybody $5,000 who can teach
how to double tongue properly. All or nothing.........
-----Original Message-----
From: Neil Leupold <>
Date: Friday, December 12, 1997 8:25 AM
Subject: Re: Tonguing

>On Thu, 11 Dec 1997, J. Blake Arrington wrote:
>> I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for increasing my
>> tonguing speed. Are there any exercises that I could do that any of
>> you have had success with?
>It has been said that people are simply born with the ability
>to tongue quickly, and that others must learn to double-tongue.
>I'm not wholly convinced of this and believe, at the very least,
>the a person can reach their optimum potential for tongue speed
>by applying certain principles. The principle that worked for
>me, and enabled me to reach a single-tongue velocity of 160, is
>based on cultivating the lightest tongue possible, thereby
>enabling the tongue to function at any speed, in any style,
>and remain relaxed at all times. Those last five words are
>the magic key.
>First of all, Kell's notion of "tip to tip" really works for
>me, and I paid extremely close attention to this idea when
>working on lightening up my tongue. There were times when
>I practiced articulation for so many hours that my tongue
>bled quite a lot by the end of a session, and there was a
>nice chunk of the tip missing. Fear not, as gross as it
>may sound, the tongue heals very quickly. I do not have a
>divot in my tongue these days. The blood and the divot,
>however, did inform me conclusively with regard to the area
>of my tongue which was making contact with the reed. I
>aimed at all times for evidence that the very tip was being
>used. This is not critical for others, however, for many
>other players tongue slightly back from the tip and achieve
>the same speed.
>Thus, my exercise. Keep in mind that the success of learning
>to tongue quickly will also entail developing other areas of
>technique as well, for the tongue does not operate in a vacuum.
>It is affected -- and has an effect upon -- every other area of
>technique involved in playing the clarinet. Yes, even by and upon
>the fingers. We can get into that idea some other time. For now,
>here's the exercise. It starts with long tones. The long tones
>are necessary because, in order to cultivate a light tongue, it
>is vital that the air column be a consistent and uninterrupted
>stream, travelling from the lungs across the reed and through the
>clarinet. One must learn to divorce the elements of technique,
>then synthesize them to commensurate effect.
>This exercise does not render instantaneous results. It takes a
>few days, sometimes a couple of weeks, and you must apply other
>forms of articulation to witness progress. Set your metronome at
>50. Induce a tone as if you were going to simply play a long tone
>for 4 clicks of the metronome at its present setting. In fact, do
>just that. Play a long tone. Let the metronome click, but pay no
>attention to how many clicks go by at first. Play the note for as
>long as you can sustain a full tone prior to running out of air.
>You must be using your lower diaphragm for this, not just your chest.
>The idea is that you become accustomed to proper inducement of the
>air stream before introducing the tongue into the equation. Your
>objective in this exercise is to develop the lightest tongue possible.
>When I tongue, it is so light that I can barely feel it making contact
>with the reed. The only reason I know that it is working properly is
>because of the countless hours I spent working on it. When I'm whipping
>away on something like the Ginastera Clarinet & Harp duo, or Mendelssohn's
>Scherzo, the only thing I'm aware of is the amount of pressure I'm applying
>from the diaphragm.
>Having established a solid, uninterrupted air stream, the clicks of
>the metrononme now become relevant. Sorry, another aside: if your
>embouchure is weak or not fully toned, this exercise will encourage
>it to solidify as well. Remember, the clarinet-playing mechanism
>of the human body is organic, integrally related. This cannot be
>avoided and, ultimately, shouldn't be. Induce another full tone,
>preferably with an air attack (i.e.; don't use the tongue to start
>the note). The best note to use is throat G, everything open, but
>if your embouchure still needs work, you might start on a chalumeau
>C or D instead. I won't explain why in this message. Whichever note
>you choose, here's what's next. After starting the note, touch the
>tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed once for each click of the
>metronome. If the tone is full and the air fully supporting it, there
>should not be an interruption of sound as the tongue brushes across the
>tip of the reed. This takes practice to achieve, so don't expect it to
>happen right away. Continue contacting the tip of the tongue to the
>tip of the reed -- once for each click -- until you run out of air.
>Remember that your air should be compelled from the lungs across the
>reed, through the clarinet, in precisely the same fashion as if you
>were merely playing a long tone. The only role of the embouchure is
>to support the reed and allow it vibrate to its fullest. If the
>embouchure needs any kind of work, then it might be applying more
>pressure than is necessary, and the reed will not vibrate to its
>fullest capacity. The faster your tongue gets, the more you will
>use the lips to support the mouthpiece -- less and less of the jaw
>or teeth. And, needless to say, the diaphragm is the driving force
>behind all of this.
>After articulating in tempo with the metronome for one full breath,
>initiate the exercise again, except this time do it twice as fast.
>The metronome is only at 50, so this shouldn't tax you at all. You're
>still going to touch the reed with a feather-light tongue stroke,
>allowing the air to keep the reed vibrating, but you'll make contact
>twice for each click. Do this for another full breath.
>Next, articulate triplets per click.. All of the same principles apply.
>Use the air. Let the tongue float on your air stream, where the very
>tip is the only part which really moves. The rest of the tongue
>should be stationary, although it will probably take time to dis-
>cover how to do this. The motion of the tongue should ultimately
>be limited to about an 8th of an inch at the very tip. The less
>tongue that moves, the more relaxed the whole muscle will be, and
>the faster you will be able to articulate. Do triplets for a whole
>Naturally, your next step is quadruplets for a whole breath, and
>then sextuplets. If you do this exercise daily, preferably near
>the beginning of your practice regimen, you will develop cues based
>on physical sensation, which will inform you that your body is changing.
>Aim to get the tongue to contact the reed in the exact same place (of
>the tongue) every single time, at every tempo. When you begin to sense
>a change in physical sensation following the previous day's application
>of this regimen, attempt to maintain that new sensation as you go through
>the rest of your practice regimen. Notice that your embouchure must
>strengthen in order to maintain the sensation...that the air stream
>must be maintained as well in order to sustain the sensation. A tense
>embouchure is anathema to progress in rapid tonguing development. You
>will need to open up and use more and more *lip* pressure, drawing the
>jaw further and further away from the reed as the lips develop muscle
>tone. The process of developing a relaxed tongue will inform you,
>through trial and error, of what the most relaxed (but well toned)
>embouchure should feel like.
>The final goal: to be able to initiate a tone via a well-supported
>air stream from the diaphragm, and engage in articulation at any
>speed, in any style (from legato to the shortest staccato), without
>any change in the physical sensation which arises from using the
>tongue. The tip never moves back away from the reed more than
>the smallest of distances, and the whole tongue remains relaxed
>at all times, whether you're playing the Mozart adagio or the
>quick staccato run in Beethoven's 4th.
>Happy tonguing!

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