Adjustable Articulation

In last week's post we discussed how the tongue is a muscle and how we can strengthen that muscle, in a way that will benefit articulation. We provided a pattern that will get things moving in the right direction.

That exercise will not only help you feel more comfortable with articulation, but you'll sound better and you'll get faster. Once you're comfortable, you can begin to add the following approach.

We'll cover how articulation can match certain styles of music. First, let's cover where the tongue makes contact with the reed.

What Not to Do

Because our tongue is extremely flexible, there are a variety of ways that beginning students end up physically articulating the reed. Here are some examples of what we shouldn't do:

  • Move the tongue forward and backward for each articulation
  • Articulate further back on the tongue (not the tip, but further back)
  • Press the tip of the tongue to the bottom of the lower teeth, and then articulate with the middle of the tongue, making contact with the tip of the reed
  • Articulate the roof of your mouth rather than the tip of the reed.

How It's Done

The process is simple, but can be a little tricky to perfect. In order to articulate correctly, take the tip of the tongue and make contact with the tip of the reed. The tip of the tongue moves up and down. If you need assistance isolating the tip of the tongue, so it can move independently, you can check out the Articulation Cheat Section from last week's post.

Making Adjustments!

The tongue is flexible but it can also adjust in firmness. This adjustment can assist in the style of articulation we are attempting to obtain. For example, if we want a smoother articulation, you can make the tip of the tongue softer. If you want to be more aggressive in your articulation you can make the tip of the tongue firmer.


If you want your articulation to be on the clear/firm side, then use the "tah" articulation. Go ahead and say the word, "tah". What happens to the tip of the tongue? Does it feel more firm? It should. To apply this while playing, think "tah" when you're articulating


If you want the articulations to be smoother, the tip of the tongue should be softer. When you say the word "dah", you'll feel how the tip of the tongue changes its firmness. To apply this while playing, think "dah" when you're articulating.

Other Items

When attempting to articulate in different styles, the tongue firmness is essential for obtaining the desired goal. Keep in mind, this is not the only requirement for articulating in different styles, but it will help prepare you for advanced articulations.

Try it Out

Go ahead and give this a try. Take the exercise we used last week and apply "tah" and "dah".  As you become comfortable with both, you'll have a new tool to assist in playing in different styles. Let us know how it went in the comment section below!

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