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Jazz Sax Lessons: Tongue Position

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[MUSIC]
Okay, let's talk about our tongues.
Strange thing to say,
but we're gonna do it.
So the idea of tonguing, more so than just
how the tongue approaches
the reed either as a T or
a D approach is the actual position
of your tongue when you play.
So this is gonna be a basic thing.
It's one of those topics where again,
I hope if you're,
I hope you're checking this
out if you're intermediate or
even advanced player because, this is an
important point, but it's also important
obviously [COUGH] to start off with
the right position of your tongue.
The idea, basically is that you,
like everything else on the horn
you want the motion of your
tongue to be as economical as possible.
You want it to travel
as little as possible.
So when
I am tonguing
[MUSIC].
So whether I'm staccatoing.
[MUSIC]
Or that's a T effect by the way.
Or accenting, which is also T but
long notes and connected.
[MUSIC]
Or legato,
where it's a D, D D D time.
[MUSIC]
Whether using any of those three
articulations you want your tongue
obviously to be very available.
Has to be available to the reed.
And so, when you're articulating.
When your tongueing articulating
you don't want the reed to be so
far away from the tip of the reed or
the bottom of the reed
so that it takes too long for it to
travel and that it's too much effort.
Again, like everything else,
you want your playing to be as easy,
as effortless as it can be.
That's why we practice so
hard to make it easier.
But we want to hedge the bets for
ourselves.
And so with regards to the tongue,
we wanna make sure that
it's just comfortable.
You know, our head rests comfortably when
we play, our body is comfortable when
we play, our tongue should also just be
in that natural position of non-playing.
When you approach it,
I don't suddenly retract my tongue
when I put my horn in my mouth.
I don't bring it forward.
I just leave it very comfortably
where it is in my mouth.
And everybody's built differently, so
everybody has sort of a different control
point, as they say in science
with where your tongue should
rest, so
with regards to those three articulations,
your main articulation is just T,
just a tongue.
We'll call that an accent.
[MUSIC]
So basically, where you want your tongue
to hit the reed is just above
the tip of your tongue for
this kind of just generic accenting or
generic tongueing.
So it's right, here we go, ready?
[NOISE] So
just above the tip of your tongue.
And you want to hit your reed at this
point not square on the tip of the reed or
the mouthpiece, but just underneath it.
[NOISE] So again if you go tip to tip,
in order to do that you have
to retract your tongue a lot.
[SOUND] And that's our staccato,
and that's a specific articulation.
But in general, again, for
your basic accent or tonguing,
you wanna In order to keep your
tongue in the correct position
you wanna just have your tongue
hit the reed just above the tip
of the tongue and
just below the tip of your reed.
[MUSIC]
I'd ask you to send me a video to show
me how you're doing that, but
it'd be a little hard to see that unless
we have a x-ray machine but I can
certainly tell how you're doing it by
listening to you play so
that'd be a good idea.
So let's talk about staccato.
Staccatoing, [SOUND] for
you beginning players that's when you,
basically what you're doing is that
you have, this is a great point for
everybody but beginners included
is it's important to know that
when you are playing a staccato, it's not
about how hard you're hitting the reed.
It's like the brake pedal on your car.
So when you start off, have everything
set and have that tongue on the reed.
Set, ready to go.
Tip to tip.
Right?
And so the sound of the note,
is not the sound of your tongue
hitting the reed, it's the opposite.
It's a sound of that tongue releasing the
reed allowing it to vibrate and then bam,
you put that break right back on,
you shut the reed right back down.
[MUSIC]
So if you have a, you know,
if you're playing something all staccato,
your set position
is that tongue on the reed, and
then just lifting it up for each note.
[MUSIC]
So, there
you go.
So and then.
Well we can,
we'll talk about how to practice.
I want to show you these positions first,
and
we'll be practicing plenty
trust me in other lessons.
And than your legato articulation,
that is this.
[MUSIC]
So, I talked about the D, D, D.
So, analogy time.
Imagine that you're down at the bond and
you've got a rock, and you take that rock
and you skip it across the pond and
the rock goes bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.
So, the water is the air and
the will that be good?
Well, let's make it with the reed.
The water is the reed and
the rock is your tongue.
So your tongue is just sort of
licking the reed, just D, D, D, D,
just like that rock just sort
of skips on top of the water.
[SOUND] So same natural nice position as
we were on the first articulation, but
now, instead of saying T Like T as in Tom,
you're say D like Dog, D, D, D, D.
And the point of this
articulation is more legato,
it's called legato of tongue, and it is,
it's one that separates the notes
enough to know that you're,
you're Well I hate to use
the word accenting, but
you're tonguing but
it has to be as connected as possible.
[MUSIC]
So
do all three of those when you practice.
One, here's two ideas,
one just take one note as I'm doing and
incorporate all three articulations
I would start with the accented,
and then the D, and then the staccato,
accented, D, staccato.
[MUSIC]
That one, it's gonna be accented.
The note's gonna be long.
But there's gonna be some separation,
obviously.
[MUSIC]
If you've got your horn with you right
now, do that with me, okay.
I'm playing G.
One, two, three.
No octave key.
And we'll do it eight times.
Ready?
Here we go.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Okay, do that on your own.
Now let's do legato.
Okay?
Same thing, but we're just using a D,
D, D articulation,
and your notes are gonna be nice
an connected, as connected as possible.
It's like you're playing one note.
Everything else is just like
you're playing one long tone.
It's just that you're
licking the reed with this D.
Here we go, ready?
One, two, ready and
[MUSIC]
let's do it again, one more time.
One, two, three, ready.
[MUSIC]
All right.
So keeping it as connected as possible,
keeping your sound as
consistent as possible.
Not allowing the tongue
to change anything else.
Don't allow the motion of your
tongue to change your embouchure,
the pressure of your embouchure, the air,
your throat, any of those things.
It has to be totally independent.
And now thirdly, let's do the staccato.
So again it's tip to tip, T,T,T,T.
And again, it's the releasing and
pressing back down on that brake pedal.
so here we go.
I'll play eight notes, one, two.
[MUSIC]
Good.
If it's too hard to do, your reed is too
hard, or your mouthpiece is too big,
the size of the mouthpiece is too large.
And if it's too easy, if you're not able
to, if the sound doesn't sound right.
then the opposite is true.
Your mouthpiece may be too small or your
reed may be too soft or too old, too worn.
Let's try that one more time.
One, two, three,
[MUSIC].
There we go.
Alrighty so
have fun with your tongue [LAUGH] and
good luck we'll see you on the next one.
[MUSIC]