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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've meet many players that just effortlessly tongue with intense speed and precision. I guess in a NOT weird way, I have tongue envy. I was gifted with a large, uncooperative tongue (TMI Sorry).

Just interested in finding out what others do (if anything) to keep the tongue in shape.
 

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saxophone, flutes and lil' bit of clarinet
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Sometimes I practice tonguing silently in my mouth with my mouth closed. You can even do it while watching TV. try to tongue to the beat of the music they are playing or subdivisions of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm gonna just leave this one alone........
This is always the problem when we talk about the ole' tongue - it always heads quickly into the gutter. :)
 

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I've meet many players that just effortlessly tongue with intense speed and precision. I guess in a NOT weird way, I have tongue envy. I was gifted with a large, uncooperative tongue (TMI Sorry).

Just interested in finding out what others do (if anything) to keep the tongue in shape.
Your mouthpiece needs to allow you to do this. A thin tip rail allow for quicker articulation. Of course there's the old mantra: "practice".
 

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This is always the problem when we talk about the ole' tongue - it always heads quickly into the gutter. :)
Reminds of the joke about Betty Grable and Harry James.
Afterwards he asks, “What did you think of that?”
She answers, “You forgot the bridge!’.

I think articulation comes from technique. If you think about your tongue too much, you’re screwed.
It looks like you play in cover bands. To articulate those horn parts correctly you need the right set up.
I used to play in some Merengue bands when I lived in NY. Good luck articulating that stuff with a 10* Link and a 4 reed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Of course there's the old mantra: "practice".
Typically I agree but I have come to believe that there is a maximum speed one can achieve regardless of practice. We can always articulate more cleanly but at some point the tongue simply refuses to move any faster.
 

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Check out the Rudy Wiedoft Secrets of Staccato for the Saxophone. - pretty sure you can find it in PDF format online with a quick search. I tracked it down through interlibrary loan ages ago - so that could be an option for you as well.
 

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There may also be a genetic disposition, not everybody can roll his/her tongue and that may play into it as in having better control of the tongue if you can roll it
 

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The tongue is a muscle. It can be trained, just like any other muscle.

I started University with single tongued 16th notes at 104 BPM.
In four years, I had it up to 160 bpm.
 

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My tonguing is fine but since picking up the horn again after a decade, I can't flutter tongue to save my life. If I do it at all, it has to be shallow, quick, and with less mouthpiece in my mouth. It's interesting, I just don't have the flexibility I had as a younger person. And this is not without practice. I've been practicing for hours, almost every single day for over 3 years now and my playing is very strong after a 10-year hiatus from playing professionally for over 25 years. I will continue to work that tongue however.
 

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The tongue is a muscle. It can be trained, just like any other muscle.
+1. I'm not great at really fast staccato tonguing, but if I work at it, there is a definite improvement. Then it has to be kept up. There are a couple of tunes I play with my band where I have to do some relatively quick staccato, in tempo, and I've found that when we play those tunes regularly, it gets easy to do. If we don't play them for a significant period of time, then it gets harder. I should spend a bit more time on this during my practice sessions!

Rolling the tongue (flutter tongue) is an entirely different matter than staccato tonguing. Flutter tonguing has always been very natural and easy for me from the very first, maybe because I took Spanish in grammar school (never really learned the Spanish, but I learned to roll my 'Rs'). I never had to practice or work on it. I use it on occasion, but sparingly. It can be a cool effect and if you can do it at all, you can vary the speed and intensity, for a more subtle vs more in your face effect.
 
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