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just thought i'd post about this for people to read. i read too much here about mouth position and never about tongue so here it goes. this can improve your playing by leaps and bounds.

think about how when you are at rest your tongue is along the roof of your mouth. relax and let your tongue hug the roof of your mouth.

now draw the sides of you tongue ouward so your tongue comes in contact with all of your upper teeth accept the front.

create a seal between you tongue and your upper teeth so your mouth is cut in half by your tongue.

now hold your hand in front of you mouth and blow a little onto your hand to get the feel of it.

now play like that and never play not like that.
 

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My tongue is never like you describe. My tongue when relaxed is never in contact with the roof of my mouth.

I tried your method, and my tongue and throat tensed up. This may work for some folks, but it made me sound awful.

From all I've heard about Allard, he taught the individual and didn't make too many generalizations.
 

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The only time my tongue touches the roof of my mouth is when I'm swallowing.
I always play with a 'relaxed' tongue and throat. Even on clarinet. I sound better that way.
 

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Are you guys talking about when your mouth is closed or open? Cuz when my mouth's closed, I have to make an effort to get my tongue off the roof of my mouth. I play the way garyjones described it, and I teach all my students to play that way. It's a real pain to get the hang of it at first, and the high tongue position amplifies every mistake you make, but once you've got it down, the tone is great!
 

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I have a normal sized tongue in a small mouth. I can't play that way. If the back of my tongue is high, then I get a small, bright sound, with a tendency to jump to the next higher harmonic.
 

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create a seal between you tongue and your upper teeth so your mouth is cut in half by your tongue.

now hold your hand in front of you mouth and blow a little onto your hand to get the feel of it.
No air can come out of my mouth if I do that, only my nose

now play like that and never play not like that.
I prefer not to play the saxophone with my nose, or be told by people how to never not to play, thank you very much.
 

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Now if you were to press the sides of your tongue out to touch your lower teeth...
Nah,still too much tension in the tongue and throat, makes tonguing difficult.
 

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just thought i'd post about this for people to read. i read too much here about mouth position and never about tongue so here it goes. this can improve your playing by leaps and bounds.

think about how when you are at rest your tongue is along the roof of your mouth. relax and let your tongue hug the roof of your mouth.

now draw the sides of you tongue ouward so your tongue comes in contact with all of your upper teeth accept the front.

create a seal between you tongue and your upper teeth so your mouth is cut in half by your tongue.

now hold your hand in front of you mouth and blow a little onto your hand to get the feel of it.

now play like that and never play not like that.
What ????!!!!
 

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You don't touch the tip of your tongue to your front teeth. You create a thin air passage that speeds up your airflow through your mouth and points it directly into the mouthpiece. I find that this adds a lot "backbone" to my sound, for lack of a better concise descriptor. To make this work, you have to fine-tune which part of your tongue is raised up, or you will get the wrong harmonic as happens to Hak. That's the drawback of this style of playing.

You guys who are finding tension in this tongue position must be misunderstanding the premise. It's really hard to explain, so I run into this problem with almost every student. It's also a counter-intuitive feel for playing at first, so it's hard to get it right. I'm not sure how successful an online description will be at describing it versus a teacher who can tweak you as you try it out, but the way I usually start describing it is by comparing it to the syllable "eee," or maybe the hissing of a cat, produced by a high central tongue position. You don't produce the "eee" sound with your mouth, but rather by holding your tongue in a high but relaxed position that pushes the sides against the molars on the top of your mouth.

In fact, it takes much less tension from the embouchure to play this way since the air speed is so fast, but it's hard for folks to raise the tongue at first without also biting into the reed. Phil Barone's tone-production posts cover this idea in greater detail, so I'd advise anyone who's interested to check those out.


P.S. There are certainly other methods for creating a good tone that work for many people, but this one produces the result I like for me. I also think an unsolicited mandate on the "right" way to play the horn is a good way to turn people off of whatever good information you've posted, particularly when there is such a wide range of ways to get the job done!
 

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This is an important topic, in my view. I have posted on it before--here are a few:

Ferron and Voicing
Airstream speed
Low-register voicing
Sinta's 'F-trick'

In the end, it is hard to describe what happens inside the oral cavity. However, I've studied a number of videos filmed inside the mouths of woodwind performers, including saxophonists, while playing. In each case, the tongue and throat positions moved with registral changes (even when players imagined that they did not), and the tongue position is generally a high arch in the back, a sort of 'ski jump' shape down to the tip of the tongue.

I've found that especially in the high register, getting students to use a 'Day' or 'Dee' syllable corrects many of the problems created by 'DaH' tonguing, in which the voicing immediately drops, slowing air speed, and obstructing the airstream by having the back of the tongue drop into the throat.

If something else that you do (or believe that you do) is working for you, that's great, but it is a discussion worth having.
 

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You don't touch the tip of your tongue to your front teeth. You create a thin air passage that speeds up your airflow through your mouth and points it directly into the mouthpiece. I find that this adds a lot "backbone" to my sound, for lack of a better concise descriptor. To make this work, you have to fine-tune which part of your tongue is raised up, or you will get the wrong harmonic as happens to Hak. That's the drawback of this style of playing.

You guys who are finding tension in this tongue position must be misunderstanding the premise. It's really hard to explain, so I run into this problem with almost every student. It's also a counter-intuitive feel for playing at first, so it's hard to get it right. I'm not sure how successful an online description will be at describing it versus a teacher who can tweak you as you try it out, but the way I usually start describing it is by comparing it to the syllable "eee," or maybe the hissing of a cat, produced by a high central tongue position. You don't produce the "eee" sound with your mouth, but rather by holding your tongue in a high but relaxed position that pushes the sides against the molars on the top of your mouth.

In fact, it takes much less tension from the embouchure to play this way since the air speed is so fast, but it's hard for folks to raise the tongue at first without also biting into the reed. Phil Barone's tone-production posts cover this idea in greater detail, so I'd advise anyone who's interested to check those out.


P.S. There are certainly other methods for creating a good tone that work for many people, but this one produces the result I like for me. I also think an unsolicited mandate on the "right" way to play the horn is a good way to turn people off of whatever good information you've posted, particularly when there is such a wide range of ways to get the job done!
My tongue has to be quite forward in my mouth for the back part to touch my molars. If you pull your tongue back and keep the tip low, it will fold, and the middle of the tongue raises. Not to an 'EEE', more like 'uhh'. For me the 'EEE' position is too close to the 'K' position.

It may be just different paths to the same place.
 

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just thought i'd post about this for people to read. i read too much here about mouth position and never about tongue so here it goes. this can improve your playing by leaps and bounds.

think about how when you are at rest your tongue is along the roof of your mouth. relax and let your tongue hug the roof of your mouth.

now draw the sides of you tongue ouward so your tongue comes in contact with all of your upper teeth accept the front.

create a seal between you tongue and your upper teeth so your mouth is cut in half by your tongue.

now hold your hand in front of you mouth and blow a little onto your hand to get the feel of it.

now play like that and never play not like that.
Did you actually study with Joe Allard?
 

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I play and teach the way Gary and Dan are describing. No one taught it to me but that is how I ended up playing. I ran into a player last week and he said he studied with Joe Allard for a few years and he said EVERY lesson was about tongue position, starting the notes, ending the notes and sound. As he described what Joe taught about tongue position I realized that is what I do and teach also. The way I've been teaching it is that you say "eee". You should feel your tongue touching you top molars on the sides. Now keep that 'eee" tongue position but when you open your mouth to put the mouthpiece in let the front part of your tongue drop down with your jaw.(mine also pulls back slightly) Make sure you keep the back in that high position. Varying the tongue from this position really messes with the sound in cool ways. When I'm playing my tongue is moving a lot to shape the sound but it's always staying close to the above position.
 

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Steve's description makes the most sense to me.

I just attended a master class with Bob Sheppard at BandSource (just outside Chicago) and he talked at length about this. The "eeee" sound puts everything right there.

Bob talked a lot about using air speed to get the pitch of higher notes to come into tune.
 

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If you pull your tongue back, and keep the tip low, your tongue has to arch, especially when you introduce the mouthpiece to push the tip of your tongue back. For an 'EEE' sound, more of the front potion of your tongue has to raise.

If I have the front portion in that position, it constricts my sound. I'm closer to a short i-- 'ihh'. The 'EEE' makes the sound thin, bright, and tense.

When you think 'ahh' in your throat, it raises the soft pallet, and opens the sound.
 

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If you pull your tongue back, and keep the tip low, your tongue has to arch, especially when you introduce the mouthpiece to push the tip of your tongue back. For an 'EEE' sound, more of the front potion of your tongue has to raise.

If I have the front portion in that position, it constricts my sound. I'm closer to a short i-- 'ihh'. The 'EEE' makes the sound thin, bright, and tense.
That's why I said that you drop the front down and back when you openyour mouth to put the mouthpiece in. You don't want to be blowing like when you hiss like a cat......that is all constricted and blocked. i think we might be talking about the same concept but your thinking of it differently?
 

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That's why I said that you drop the front down and back when you openyour mouth to put the mouthpiece in. You don't want to be blowing like when you hiss like a cat......that is all constricted and blocked. i think we might be talking about the same concept but your thinking of it differently?

We probably are.
 

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Hissing like a cat is an example I use for kids that is too extreme. I find that usually when they shoot for "too much" is when they start getting in the ballpark because it's such an unfamiliar feeling. The "K" sound is also a bit too much, but not by a lot. This technique does take a certain amount of experimentation to get right, mostly because you can't SEE inside there and everyone IS different. However, I will say, Hak, that a lot of the issues you mention are problems I had when I started studying this technique with my mentor (an Allard student) around 10 years ago. The issue in my case was not that the technique didn't work, just that I had to find the sweet spot. Truth be told, I work every day to hone that sweet spot. I think this tongue position, and its interaction with lip control is the most important element of my sound. Years into this practice, I've become more and more extreme in my dedication to the super-high arch of the tongue. It's like drakesaxprof says, a "ski-jump" shape.

Also, it's weird, at first, keeping the open throat and raised soft palate while keeping the tongue arched. However, when you think about it, to create such a high arch in the tongue, you have to pull it up out of the throat a bit, exacerbating the large chamber behind the tight air passage.

I wish I'd gotten to jam with you while you were here, or at least been mic'ed up so I could try to add some nuance to the tone instead of shouting over that B3/Leslie. This tongue position opens up a huge sonic palate that's just not there when I play any other way.

It is hard to ALWAYS maintain, to "never not play like that." I remember a gig where I had let the tongue drop because I wasn't focused and I was sick. I'll never forget the reaction when I brought it back up to the high position. It's such a technical thing we think no one could notice, that it's just done for the sake of being "right," and adding a touch of color. However, I saw it in the face of the lady at the table right in front of me: I took a breath, and my next phrase was done with the high tongue, and it made her take a sharp breath of air. It's one of a few performance moments I'll never forget, and it really drove home the importance of ALWAYS having a sound that can do that!
 

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My clarinet teacher in college taught me to say "SHHHHH" very loud and forcefully to get the tongue in this kind of position and to check it. When I do that, I end up with a tongue position similar to what Gary, Dan, and Neff are talking about. This is how I generally try to play.
 

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This is what we're aiming at, isn't it?



That is, we just want the quicker upper air stream to occur. That'll make all sorts of beautiful things to happen.
 
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