Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 01:25:13 -0800
From: "PATTON" <>
Subject: proper single tounging technique- the end all (long)

Single Tonguing Techniques and Procedures

1. Why is tonguing a mystery.
2. Articulation
    a. steps in the tonguing process
    b. methods of articulation
3. Tonguing for improvement.


There are four fundamental processes associated with playing the trumpet, these being embouchure, finger technique, breathing, and tonguing. Yet as tonguing is that process which is visually blind to us, it has become one of the weakest and more overlooked processes of the four. As a result, tonguing correctly, physically correct, is hard for trumpet players and inhibits performance style. To address this I will begin by describing methods of articulation.


While there are several methods used to articulate on the trumpet, and while all have their uses, I am convinced that the "tip method" will produce a superior product. First let me say that the superior muscian must be able to use a variety of articulation procedures, and one's 'grab bag of tricks' must include everything  from the staccato to the sforzando and must be able to include all levels of dynamic contribution. For this reason,  this trumpet player holds special the "tip method" as it makes available the greatest amount of satisfaction.


  1. It utilizes the most agile and manipulative part of the tongue muscle.
     And it's sensitivity and relative small size compared to the rest of  the tongue
     allows greater responsivness.
  2. Studies have concluded that many proficiant players use the first inch
      to inch and a half of the tongue muscle with each stroke.
     Tongue speed is connected to the amount of tongue that must move, and
     that player which uses less tongue for each stroke will sustain
     greater speed.
  3. When properly utilzed, with the tongue making contact where the upper
     gum line meets the teeth and where only the tip of the tongue is lifted to
     makethis contact, the tip method can solve the problem of the grunt or
     the dead air space that occurs before the tone begins. This can be most
     observable in the upper registers.


The first part of this discussion will observe the beginning of the attack.
To produce a tone with a tongue start the tip of the tongue must placed against it's contact point.(at that area where the upper gum meets the teeth) Always trying to use as small an area of tongue as is possible. Assuming that the player has already taken a breath of air, and that this air is forming pressure with abdominal muscles. Hold the air pressure back using both the tongue as a valve but more importantly the larynx.  (produce air pressure with out the tongue valve by breathing on the palm of your hand and saying hhhaah so that the hottest mass of air strikes the center of your hand-you have just controled air using only the larynx.)
Using only the tongue to hold back the air pressure can often lead to percussive and unmusical results. It is the combination of the two.

To produce the tone the player must withdraw the tongue and release the air at the same time. It is the repeated practice of this synchronizaton that develops the cleanest sounding tonguing. The tongue pulls back slightly and drops only a fraction. The idea is not to move the tongue any more than is neccessary. Both the withdrawl and the forward stroke must be equally rapid-even for slower tonguing requirements. Tempo of music should not dictate the tempo of the tonguing movement. The end of the note or the type release is a very important aspect tonguing technique as it has the greatest influence on performance.
I will quickly mention some of the more popular release methods but my primary focus will consider the breath release, and the tongue release.

Many in the performance field agree with importance of the breath release, few however agree as to how this can be best accomplished. I personally believe in mastery of all and their usage according to the situation. So let us look at the Diaphram release- the Epigastrum Bounce- and the Laryngeal breath release.

Best described as being a flexing of the diaphram at the end of the note, thus momentarily stopping the air. I do contend though that it is important to remember that the diaphram is an involuntary muscle and so the surrounding voluntary muscles must come into play in order to produce this effect.

(No it's not a Woody Herman tune.) This technique is used by some players to effect a breath release. The performer must huff with the abdomen each time a separated note is played. This activity involves the contracting and releasing of adominal muscles for each situation. this method is extremely tiring for the performer and often lacks the smoothness acheived through other methods.

Fay Hanson, using specialized laryngeal X-ray technology has been able to demonstrate that proper breath release ccurs in teh larynx and that the air flow is cut off by closing the inferior folds. This should not be supprising as it is the function these muscles were born to do. It is a function that needs little training compared to the other methods as it is ahnatural. But how do you tell which method you are using...It's harder than you might think. Many performers claim to use one of the afore mentioned methods exclusively but are supprised when true analysis shows contrary.

For this performer the Laryngeal breath release is by far the most accurate, cleanest tonguing to choose from. Try this. Take in a good breath. Then blow out or whistle a staccato patern of even eigth notes. It is important that each note be staccato and that the abdominal muscles not bounce or pulse during this procedure. Keep the abdominal wall firm. It is best to practice this simple exercise until one is confident that the laryngeal mech is of primary use. Don't rule out the other techniques. I have practiced them all and have found all useful in the right setting. Suprisingly the Epigastrum bounce has come in handy when trying to tongue notes from High G to Dbl C. especially syncopated pops.

This is produced by placing the tongue back against the teeth to stop the air flow. To do this I say to myself  taaaaut...taaaa...ut.  Sounds laborious? it's natural too. Everybody uses it when tonguing rapidly. The ending of one note is stopped by the beginning of a new note saccato sixteenth notes would be a great example of someone using stopped tongue breath release. However this technique can be put to good use even when not playing quickly repeated notes. Notes that are tied can have an extra kick at the end of the tie with the use of a tongue release. Tongue releases also aid in helping to transmit rythmic ideas. Try a few ascending passages in a swing style where the second eigth note gets slurred to but ends with a tongued release(ut!) it can really help to hold back ns that often get rushed. Also legato passages can employ the tongue release and pass on a nice smooth tongue effect.

It's really hard to give these instructions over a medium such as TPIN but my best advice for practicing these techniques is to follow the teachings of Carmine Caruso "To practice slowly, very very slowly-takes patience. The payoff, of course is greatly increased valve speed and good coordination between tongue and fingers."

Most of everything I have produced here comes from the teachings of Dr. Steve Allen, Robert Panerio, readings from the Art of Jazz Trumpet by McNeil, and notes taken at countless siminars. It is all repetition of we have all heard or read before Nothing new. Hopefully it falls on new ears and is helpful.
Oh and by the way double and triple tonguing are just a bunch of added Ka's
Thanks for your patience

Patton in Juneau