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My 10 year old son has been playing for almost a year but he is not tounging his reed. He is rather learning very bad habit of producing a decent tone and playing without the proper tonging technique. His teacher and I are trying to teach him but he is not doing it properly. Does anyone have any "tricks" I can use to break him of this habit before its too late. I appreciate it very much.

All the best,

Alan
 

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He is probably starting each note with the air "Hoo" "Hoo" "Hoo" or stopping and starting the tone in the throat with "Guh" "Guh" "Guh" or a variation of one or the other. :)
My suggestion:

-Have him say tu tu tu tu tu without the sax.

-Then tell him to take a big breath and hiss a real long hiss.

-Then have him do the same but break it up into short hisses like "Tst" "Tst" "Tst" "Tst".

-Then have him imitate a "rainbird sprinkler" with fast spurts of air, then slow, then fast again. This reinforces the tongue acting as a valve (and using pressurized air).

-Then have him put his thumb in the mouth pretending it is the sax mouthpiece pressing the top teeth into the thumb print part and pretending the thumbnail is the reed.

-Then, letting air leak out the sides so you can hear it, have him do the "Tst" "Tst" "Tst" sound again but this time touching the thumb nail with the front of the tongue instead of the top teeth.

-Next using the neck and mouthpiece only have him say "Tu" "Tu" "Tu" "Tu", then blow the air and spit 4 (imaginary) spit wads off the tip of his tongue "Ptu" "Ptu" "Ptu" "Ptu" then do the same into the neck and mouthpiece "blowing his tongue off the reed".

-Watch for excessive movement in the throat or chewing with the jaw. Help him to keep the chin still and move just the front of the tongue a short distance.

-When the neck and mouthpiece (small sax) sounds good, go on to the full instrument and do the tonguing exercise on an easy note like B natural at first.

-If he has difficulty with any one of these steps, go back a step and repeat that one a few times. In between practice times on the sax, encourage him to walk around saying "tu" "tu" "tu" or spitting imaginary spitwads to reinforce the tongue (and air) movement.

Be patient! If he has been allowed to play an entire year "tonguing" incorrectly, that poor habit has become very ingrained and it will take time and practice to extinguish the poor habit and replace it with the proper one. Good luck. Hope this helps. If you have any questions send me an e-mail or a private message and I will be happy to communicate further.

John
 

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what helped me was realizing I had to touch the reed as far to the back as possible. I didn't do it either, tonguing. My teacher made me tongue every note in every scale or exercise I played. If I didn't : rewind and again. He even made me play the same notes for two-three minutes, tonguing it with intervals of one second. And I had to pay attention to the pitch. My problem was that when tonguing, I dragged my underjaw a bit down, so I got more of a twa twa twa sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
John,

Thanks for the great tips. I will implement them into his practice.

Alan
 

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i have the same problem. the most difficult thing is how do you know if you are tonguing correctly. i know i tend to move my jaw a little when i tongue is this bad. does throat tonguing mean you dont use your tongue at all and just stop and start the notes by stopping and starting the flow with your throat. i play boney maroney to practice tonguing even through i dont know if iam tonguing correctly. does anyone know a better song to practice and a really good explanation of how to tongue properly would be appreciated. i am trying the exercises in this post and time will tell whether they help or not. is tonguing technique a problem for most beginners
 
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