1 Thing You Need to Know: Articulation

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We have posted on this topic previously, but we want to focus on one item that is essential to your success. In this post, we will share one thing you need to know about articulation.

The 1 Thing

Instead of the build up to the one item, we’ll share it right at the beginning. The 1 Thing you need to know about articulation is this: the tip of the tongue makes contact with the tip of the reed.

Wrong Examples

This 1 item may sound simple, but there are plenty of variations beginning students use which are not correct. Some of these include the following:

  1. Articulating further back on the tongue
  2. Making contact in the middle of the reed
  3. Moving the entire tongue back and forth
  4. Anchoring the tip of the tongue to the back of the bottom teeth, and articulating with the middle of the tongue (this may sound confusing, but follow this post and you won’t have this issue)
  5. Not using the tongue at all, but using the throat
  6. Not using the tongue but pulsing the air to simulate articulation

Here’s How it Affects Your Playing

If the tip to tip approach is not used, your articulation quality will suffer (it won’t sound as good),  it will be difficult to be consistent, you won’t reach your max speed, and the various styles of articulation will not be possible.

Glass Half Full

Instead of thinking in the negative, let’s think positive. If you articulate with the tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed, you’ll greatly increase the quality of your articulation, you’ll be more consistent, you’ll articulate faster, and you’ll have the tools to articulate in various styles.

How to Apply

As you can see, there are multiple benefits from articulating correctly. However, sometimes knowing the right approach is easy to understand but is difficult to apply. Because of this, we want to share a method for applying this approach.

Step 1

First, try to articulate with the tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed without moving the tongue back and forth. The tongue should be in place so the tip of the tongue moves up and down.

Step 2

If step 1 is too difficult to execute, then put down your saxophone and say “tah”. Notice the movement of your tongue. The tongue does not move back and forth, but the tip moves up and down. Once you get the feel, try it again on the saxophone.

Step 3

If step 2 did not produce the desired results (because of ability to execute), then try the following. Push the sides of the tongue up against your top molars (the tongue should lay flat), but don’t have the tongue make contact with the roof of your mouth. This approach isolates the tongue so you’re able to move just the tip. Try this, without the saxophone, and say the word, “tah”.

Once you’re comfortable, try this same approach with the saxophone.

After you become comfortable, you won’t need to keep your tongue against your molars anymore. This approach is used to assist with moving the tip of your tongue up and down. This is not something you want to use all the time.

Give it A Try

Let us know how this approach changed your articulation. Did you get faster or was the articulation clearer? If you have an approach that helps you, feel free to share in the comment section below. We look forward to hearing about your progress.


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