Masterclass Handout
Articulation

I try not to be a tone fetishist, and strive to subordinate the tone to the articulation. The biggest, fullest voice can still not communicate without consonants.

Tonguing is an important point, and not only for articulation's sake. Beyond the musical considerations of articulating and inflecting a broad range of styles, practicing tonguing-exercises can also have the effect of tempering the tone and more clearly defining its location in the tonal cavity or - if your prefer - finding and defining the "sweet spot" of the tone.

Tommy Pedersen wrote some effective and fun etudes that zero in on tonguing. Tonguing various rhythms on sustained pitches in different registers can be helpful, although perhaps tedious. Play triplets and 16ths, not forgetting to group them differently, i.e. tongue 2 tie 2, dot dash dash dot, dot dot dash dash etc. Good examples of these models can be found in the Kopprasch book (use them there as prescribed, also). Dotted 8th, 16th, 8th is quite good. (The so-called Sicilian rhythm: AM-sterdam, AM-sterdam, AM-sterdam. I know: this doesn't make geographical sense!). Robert Marseller's "Daily Routines" has a pretty thorough handling of a wide range of articulation.

Important is that the tongue articulates the air stream, without interrupting it. Read that last sentence again, please. Also, be sure that the tongue doesn't pull other muscle tension along with it. Stop before you get tired.

Timothy Dokshitzer, renowned Russian trumpeter, wrote an article for Brass Bulletin in which he equated tonguing to the bowing techniques of the string players. Certainly we should develop more than just legato, staccato and marcato. Too many brass players are satisfied with Ta and Da. Strive to be an articulate musician.