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Beginner Tonguing Question

2541 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Pete Thomas
Hi everyone,

Since I can't see into people's mouths, maybe somebody can explain to me a tonguing problem I'm having. [Before we get into it, my first lesson is in 3 weeks. Until then, I'm trying on my own to get as much basic stuff as I can to at least a beginner level.]

On my baritone sax, the mouthpiece is big and it gets pretty deep into my mouth. To tongue it at all, I'm been anchoring my tongue to my bottom teeth and arching up to catch the reed tip. This also catches the roof of my mouth, and I know that I have the air pressure behind that tongue wall. When I do this, I can get a (relatively) clean start on demand across the range of the baritone.

This seems to be a lot "more tongue" than people call for. It completely stalls the airflow behind my tongue, but that seems to work. Yet, when I read or listen, everyone says that you don't need to seal off the saxophone. If I don't seal off the sax, however, I'll get that "breathing into a saxophone noise" and the tone starts whenever it feels like it.

Should I continue to use this tonguing method, as I suspect I should, or is there something I'm missing here? Do you hold the air column back with your tongue as you enter a note, or is there a timing issue I need to perfect to coordinate the arrival of the air column and the removal of my tongue perfectly?
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I wouldn't do that. I would try taking in less mouthpiece so you can tongue the notes without arching or anchoring etc.

The air pressure should be constant, it's only the tongue that stops it from entering the reed, like turning a tap on and off when there is a constant pressure in the water pipes.

The pressure of your lungs/diaphragm should be constant, and your throat should be open so there is actually nothing that possibly can stop it except your tongue.

Once you have developed a stronger diaphragm there are other techniques, but the above is wha is best for beginners, IMO.
Thanks for the tip!

My own teacher did also point out to take in less mouthpiece.

He also taught me to imagine that I have a very large neck with lots of airflow.
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