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 Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: ceeslaw 
Date:   2019-03-23 04:43

I just started playing clarinet in July, and I've been a reasonably quick study (am now a good ways through the Rubank Advanced Vol. 1). My problem is that my tongue seems to be quite sluggish. I can only tongue sixteenths at around quarter = 78 bpm on an open G, which slows to around 66 or slower so on simple scales.

My question is, is your approximate speed ceiling something one tends to have from the beginning, or do you see growth as you progress through the beginning stages of clarinet playing? My teacher uses anchor tonguing, though she's not dogmatic about it, and I don't tend to anchor the tongue rigidly but I do lightly tuck the very tip behind the top of my lower front teeth. In general she doesn't seem too concerned about my lack of speed at this stage, but I'm an anxious type and want to make sure I establish good fundamentals so I don't have to go back and do a lot of fixing later. Also I'm curious if I can expect to see much speed acquisition as I continue study, or if one tends to be able to gauge if one has the goods for fast tonguing (or not) fairly early on. Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!



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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-23 05:27

Couple of things.


I am glad to hear that your teacher is not dogmatic about anchor tonguing. It IS NOT a legitimate, classical technique. The only caveat there is that there are some pretty amazing players that use that method but it can hold you back.


The proper stance is to place the VERY TIP OF THE TONGUE (as pointed as a tongue can be that is) upon the very tip of the reed. Larry Combs (former principal of the Chicago Symphony) would draw a dot just at the very crest of the tip, at the very center and call for that to be the target for your tongue.


The other part of this is that I said PLACE your tongue. The tongue can ONLY stop the reed from vibrating. So it is best to think of the action of tonguing as moving quickly AWAY from the reed (after quickly placing it on the reed). There is only enough force required to prevent the reed from vibrating. Thinking "light" and "away" should help speed things up quite a bit.


HOWEVER


I firmly believe that the tongue is a muscle (well, a bunch of muscles) and as such some of us have "quick twitch musculature" and some of us have "slow twitch musculature." I further believe that there are a good number of us with a burning desire to be great clarinet players who are cursed with genetically slow tongues. As a "slow tunguer," I advocate to fellow "slow tongures" to learn double tonguing early on. You are still pretty new to all this and it may be too soon to worry about double tonguing, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind not too many years down the road.





..................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2019-03-23 19:04

Fastest single tongue on the planet anchor tongues.........

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/about.html

Sponsored by Backun/D'Addario/BG/Silverstein/ Artist Teacher and Soloist

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-03-23 19:14

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Fastest single tongue on the planet anchor tongues.........
>

Who is that?

Karl

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: rmk54 
Date:   2019-03-23 19:31

And how do you know s/he is the fastest on the planet?

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-23 21:41

About that. Listen to Julian Bliss play anything. He single tongues everything. He says he chooses to single tongue because he can hear the difference with double tonguing. Must be nice. Point being that there are a LOT of standard classical works that call for quite a bit of speed (Breethoven 4th, Mendelssohn Mid Summer's Night Dream. Rossini Semeramis, etc.) Some us just need double tonguing to get by.



...............Paul Aviles.



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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: ceeslaw 
Date:   2019-03-24 02:28

Thanks for your comments, Paul! I'm trying tip-to-tip, and it's about as easy/difficult as anchor tonguing is for me at this early stage, so if I'm not in a position where I have to use anchor tonguing (due to a big tongue or suchlike), I'm going to try to phase it out. My teacher is under the impression that many people's tongues are too big for a real tip-to-tip articulation, so that's her logic for recommending anchor tonguing, but if I don't have to I'll try to develop the more "vetted" route, on the hope that I can develop more speed this way. And I share your suspicion that some of us are just not genetically blessed with speed, so I'm keeping double tonguing on my mind, for the near future if not right now.

Any thoughts from others re: whether your speed was there from the start or if it developed throughout your beginning years continue to be welcome.



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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-24 04:33

I would also LOVE to hear input from others on the SLOW vs FAST tongue issue. We don't really talk about this in a helpful way. Many who have fast tongues assume that we "slower" folks are not using proper technique or have not invested enough practice time. I can say as a retired Army clarinetist that I have worked on speed in every way possible and tonguing 16th notes at a quarter note equals 116 beats per minute was all that I could muster (single tonguing)......and that may even be a stretch.



I don't really believe "the tongue is physically too big" argument. If it is possible for you to tap the back of your front upper teeth near the gum line with the tip of your tongue, then you can do the same to the tip of the reed.


Never having stopped the very tip of the reed with the very tip of the tongue before, you will feel a weird buzzy feeling upon your first attempts and through the first week or so. After that, It will become second nature and you wont believe how much cleaner the articulation becomes!




................Pau Aviles

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-03-24 05:06

Paul Aviles wrote:

> I would also LOVE to hear input from others on the SLOW vs FAST
> tongue issue. We don't really talk about this in a helpful
> way. Many who have fast tongues assume that we "slower" folks
> are not using proper technique or have not invested enough
> practice time.

Well, that's the crux of the problem with discussing this as a nurture/nature issue. You've got it exactly right, and I doubt if discussing this part of the problem is likely to move anyone's understanding very far. Probably more useful to focus on how to optimize an individual player's own tonguing speed and clarity to reach whatever his potential is.

We're in about the same boat - and I've certainly tried to practice tonguing faster in any number of ways. I can tongue short bursts of notes faster - but things like Saint-Saens's 3rd or even some the faster tempos I've heard used for the Midsummernght's Dream scherzo still are beyond me without mixing at least some double-tonguing in with as relaxed as possible single strokes.

Could I learn to tongue faster? I don't honestly know. Not through any technique or technical change I've tried. I've had students who could single tongue much faster than I can. I've even asked them to describe what they're doing (I learn as much from teaching as my students learn from me). They universally have had no idea. They just do it. So, I suppose I have to come down mostly on the side of nature.

There are too many ways to cheat (including but not limited to multiple-stroke tonguing) on articulated passages for me ever to have made really fast tonguing a priority (is that just an excuse?). I wish I could tongue those cadenzas in the Nielsen Concerto the way I heard Drucker do it when I was a student. Oh, well...

Karl

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2019-03-24 20:29

ceeslaw, not an answer to your question and probably something you already know, but let me still just mention two basic things about tongue (single) speed development.

1) Make sure that the travel of your tongue is as short as possible, since the longer it travels, the slower it will be. Check the travel by moving your tongue really slowly away from the reed (while blowing) and stop the movement immediately when you start getting a sound. Then move it back and forth for a while, still very slowly and with minimal travel between sound/no sound. This is just to develop your feeling of the "right" distance and getting used to it - if it has been any longer than that.

Then slowly increase the speed, but still concentrate just on keeping the travel at minimum. Finish at the maximum speed you are capable of.

This could be a part of your daily practice routine, until you are sure of always tonguing with minimal travel.

2) Another crucial thing concerning tonguing speed is your air support, which should be as strong as possible considering the desired dynamic level, and with exactly the same kind of steady flow as when playing legato.



Post Edited (2019-03-24 20:31)

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2019-03-26 08:55

In high school my tonguing was substandard. In college I got a simple exercise
from Leon Russianoff that improved my tonguing dramatically over a few weeks to two months over one summer. The exercise begins by simply playing chalumeau notes CCCDEEEFG, holding the G. Gradually speeding up and then up & down the scale, other scales, etc.

Tonguing became maybe my biggest asset. I touch not quite the tip of my tongue to not quite the tip of the reed (2 1/2 Van Doren reeds). The exercise is described in detail in my book.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/
austinmacauley.com/author/heimer-tom (PDF samples here)


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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: ceeslaw 
Date:   2019-03-27 19:37

Thanks for the feedback, all!



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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-03-27 20:23

Don't move your lower jaw at all when you tongue. Whichever technique you use, the tongue motion needs to be small and precise and repeatable. The tongue being connected to the jaw, any jaw movement will move the tongue and thus change the motion needed for articulation, meaning, the repeatable thing gets impaired and then the precise thing gets impaired. Jaw movement can be deliberately used for some things, but if it unconsciously & unnecessarily gets used to support voicing or reed pressure or etc., then it will interfere with rapid articulation.

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-03-27 21:16

In a broader sense, I've come to view tonguing much like any physical "sport"....meaning, practice will get us each to our own optimum, and trying various different concepts might help us reach a little further than we had previously been, but we will achieve different results/speeds than those around us.

Sorta like training for track and field. Some are faster for shorter bursts, some are faster over the average...and most others are somewhat slower in comparison - even if all using the same "proven" techniques.

However, even the slowest member on the track field can improve (to a point) by trying various different concepts/techniques in order to optimize performance. This person might never win a race, but the work will still offer improvement.

Fuzzy

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 Re: Growth to expect in tonguing speed
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-27 23:07

I guess my main point about having double tonguing available to you is that there IS a base line for symphonic players and if you hit a practical "wall" with single tonguing (with all other aspects of your playing being strong) there is no reason to hold yourself back.



A point that should be taken to heart by teachers.



................Paul Aviles



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