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I took a gig with one of those big $ corporate/wedding bands for the end of this month. I'll be playing a lot of the usual fare, lots of 70s funk, pop, etc (Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, etc).

One thing I'm having issue with, and it's been a weakness of mine for a long time, is tonguing fast. One song as an example, September by EWF... there is a 2-measure all 16th note (staccato) pattern that is in the song a few times and my tongue just cannot keep up.

Can anyone offer any exercises/advice to help me get this up to speed in a few weeks?

Thanks!
 

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I took a gig with one of those big $ corporate/wedding bands for the end of this month. I'll be playing a lot of the usual fare, lots of 70s funk, pop, etc (Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, etc).

One thing I'm having issue with, and it's been a weakness of mine for a long time, is tonguing fast. One song as an example, September by EWF... there is a 2-measure all 16th note (staccato) pattern that is in the song a few times and my tongue just cannot keep up.

Can anyone offer any exercises/advice to help me get this up to speed in a few weeks?

Thanks!
Does your mouthpiece facilitate fast tonguing or does it resist your attempts at fast staccato??
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Does your mouthpiece facilitate fast tonguing or does it resist your attempts at fast staccato??
It's definitely me rather than the equipment. I'd also be interested in a good explanation/way to develop double-tonguing if that's an option. I can't seem to make that work either =\
 

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I don't know how to help you because it came easy to me. Perhaps just a lot of practice. Double tonguing and/or triple tonguing like a trumpet player works well for fast tonguing and can be controlled for staccato much easier (for me) than legato.

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Oh, I know the exact lick you're discussing. Fun to play once you get a handle on it. The trick to tonguing fast is the same trick to playing fast. You have to get your muscles (in this case the tongue) acclimated to the timing that you're looking to achieve. Work with double and/or triple tongue techniques, but work them into the lick at extremely slow speeds. I'd start off at 20 to 30 bpm, and would hold it there until the tonguing pattern is flawlessly accurate. Then keep bumping the speed up about 10 bpm at a time. Keep focusing on the accuracy, and do not speed up until you're totally comfortable at a given tempo. Keep doing this until you can get it up to tempo. Don't cheat on your accuracy. I've found this to be the best way to learn tricky passages quickly.
 

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Yeah honestly, I just want to be able to tongue it at tempo, staccato be damned.
I had to learn the damn tune too...it's not one of my favorites, but audiences dance to it.

Practice is the only answer. Give a bit of extra attention to it and it will come along. If there's a trumpet player on the gig that can do it, you'll be ok until you get it. Just let him cover it and do your bit with breath only. Once you get it, don't drink too much on the gig and you'll be ok...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I had to learn the damn tune too...it's not one of my favorites, but audiences dance to it.

Practice is the only answer. Give a bit of extra attention to it and it will come along. If there's a trumpet player on the gig that can do it, you'll be ok until you get it. Just let him cover it and do your bit with breath only. Once you get it, don't drink too much on the gig and you'll be ok...
Yeah, luckily it's a 4-piece horn section (tenor, alto, trombone, trumpet) so I can probably get away with some slop if I need to. I'm a fill-in on this gig and so is the trombone player.
 

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A couple of ideas that I use with my saxophone students may help. The first is the concept of using the smallest portion of the tongue the shortest distance possible. Many problems with slow tonguing are caused by moving too much of the tongue too far inside the mouth. Most players have success touching the tip of the reed with the portion of the tongue just behind the tip, but this depends upon the player's physiology. Players with a shorter tongue may find that tip to tip works best, and players with a longer tongue may have the most success with "anchor tonguing".

A trick I learned that can make four fast 16ths easier to play in tempo is to use a "breath attack" on the first note instead of tonguing it. In other words instead of da da da da da, one plays HA da da da da. Along the same lines, using a "du" or "da" syllable it is often easier to tongue faster than using "tu" or "tah". The rhythmic exercise shown below is an effective way to practice speeding up one's tonguing. Once this pattern can be played up to tempo, then one adds another set of 16th notes on beat four. In many cases the tongue can move fast enough to produce one or two sets of 16th notes, but it tires quickly when trying to sustain or repeat the pattern.

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A couple of ideas that I use with my saxophone students may help. The first is the concept of using the smallest portion of the tongue the shortest distance possible. Many problems with slow tonguing are caused by moving too much of the tongue too far inside the mouth. Most players have success touching the tip of the reed with the portion of the tongue just behind the tip, but this depends upon the player's physiology.
Very true, I have always said tip of tongue to tip of reed, her as close to that ideal as possible.

The other thing is a lot of people put too much mouthpiece in their mouth. The less you put in the easier it is to use your tongue properly
 

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Reminds me of the joke about Harry James pleasuring Betty Grable.
HJ, “How was that?’
BG, “You forgot the bridge!”.

I used to play a lot with Merengue bands when I lived in NY. The alto player could tongue really fast tempos and play staccato. You just have to learn to get on top of it.
Double tonguing isn’t really an option. I play in a cover band where we do all those tunes. It’s always a challenge.
Equipment has a lot to do with it. A closer tip with a reed that speaks quickly works the best. Joe Henderson had the best articulation I’ve ever heard and he played a C*, some say a D, and a number 2 reed.
The merengue guys loved those blue Jumbo Javas. Super bright and easy to articulate on if you can stand the sound. The sax player, Crispin Fernandez, who did 90 percent of their studio recordings played one. That would be comparable to all the Coltrane lovers to play a DR Link.
 

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I had to learn the damn tune too...it's not one of my favorites, but audiences dance to it.

Once you get it, don't drink too much on the gig and you'll be ok...
Funny you should mention that. Beer is one sure way to loose articulation fast, especially when playing the black stick of death, aka the clarinet.
 
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