3 Articulation Exercises to Gain Speed

Articulating Like a Pro

Last week we talked about some things you can do to articulate like a Pro. They’re not difficult to do; we just need the right instruction and the consistency in our practice sessions. I left us with a comment about our tongue being a muscle, and commented on how muscles become stronger and faster. We strengthen the tongue with exercises. This week we’ll go over some articulation exercises to help you strengthen your tongue, so you can articulate cleaner and faster.

Add Articulation

The easiest way to start exercising your tongue is to play something that you already know, and add articulation to it. I suggest adding articulation to your scales. If you usually slur your scales, play them once slurred and once articulated each day. If you already articulate your scales, then click up one click on the metronome and see if you can articulate each note at the new tempo. If you can, then click it up again. Once you’ve reached your max tempo then keep playing at that new tempo every day until you’re successful.

Use the Metronome

This next exercise only requires the use of one note. Play a middle B and play repeated eighth notes (two notes per click) at a slow tempo. Then, click up and do it again. You may be able to click up 10-20 times your first day, or maybe just 5 times. If you can only click up 5 times, I would suggest starting at a slower tempo. The next day, start at the fastest tempo you reached the previous day.

Patterns

The next exercise combines the previous 2 exercises plus one more item. We’ll use the metronome, scales, and add articulation patterns. Believe it or not, articulation patterns will help speed up your articulation without spending a lot of time articulating at a fast tempo. This is an example where slower practice can help you play faster. Of course, you want to get as fast as you can, but even playing slowly will increase your top speed. Here are the patterns:

Click the following link for a free copy of the articulation exercises: Articulation Patterns

The Process

Follow this process with the Articulation Patterns exercises:

  1. Set metronome to 60
  2. Play through all 8 patterns
  3. If you can play all patterns with the metronome, click up 1 click tomorrow
  4. If you can’t play all patterns with the metronome, repeat the same tempo tomorrow
  5. When you can play all patterns at the goal tempo, click up 1 click the next day

At times you’ll have multiple days in a row where you’ll click up every day. Eventually you’ll plateau (which is normal) and you may stay on one tempo for a week or two. This is okay. Even though you’re not clicking up, you’re still reaping the benefits of this exercise!

Results

As you apply these articulation patterns on a daily basis, you’ll notice that your articulation will become more refined and you’ll gain speed. With consistency, and with some time, you’ll be amazed at your ability to articulate. You may even be surprised that the articulation coming out of your saxophone is actually you. It’s a great experience to have, and anyone can do it.

Question: What have you done to speed up your articulation? Feel free to share in the comment section!

Comments 2

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Bob,

      Articulation is when you make brief contact with the tip of the tongue on the tip of the reed. You can think of saying the syllables “Dah” or “Tah” as you articulate. There’s a more detailed explanation of this process (with exercises) in the free lessons. Have you had a chance to go through the free lessons yet? You can sign up here if you haven’t. If you have any other questions, just let me know!

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