Masterclass Handout
The tongue articulates the air (tone) column - it doesn't break it

A technique that I consider most important is the ability to articulate at all dynamic levels and with all articulation nuances from legato to staccato, from soft to accented, without interrupting the air stream.

This is an essential aid in phrasing a line without the individual notes (or attacks) causing the flow to become static, and it enables me to blow through a phrase. Even in staccato I like to think of a violin playing pizzicato: they don't stop the string from vibrating before plucking the next note. Or to use a fortissimo, accented analogy: when repeatedly ringing a big bell with a hammer, the vibrations are not dampened by the next stroke. In this sense, I sometimes like to think of the air column as a tubular chime.

The low register is, as so often, helpful in trying this out: Play a low f in 6th position, whole note (or a slightly higher note, if that one is too unwieldy). Now play it again, but with four well accented quarters, making sure that there is absolutely no space, or even let-down in tonal intensity between the notes. Pay extra close attention to the instant before re-articulation. For the real acid test, try the above on a pedal note.

Now, the continuity of air stream should not be at the expense of attack precision. The bell ringing analogy reminds us of the striking of the tongue. In a musical vein, the term, "Marcato, ma ben tenuto" and "Tenuto, ma ben marcato" serves well. To demonstrate this I like to play well-accented choral melodies (or simply Kopprasch No. 1), as if playing them from a tower. Don't let the tonal intensity sag after the accents. Just the idea of playing outside helps here, as there is no acoustical ambience to hide the gaps between notes.

In staccato, I often use Kopprasch number 3 for demonstrating this concept, the motto being, "The tongue articulates the air stream, it doesn't interrupt it." The pizzicato comparison is good, and I like to envision a walk bass style, imagining how the wooden chest of the bass keeps vibrating after the string has been plucked. In staccato, the air column remains resonant and lively, just as the wooden chest of the double bass does in pizzicato. In tenuto the tone column, and therefore also the air stream, flow through with no interruption.

For another look at this concept, go to LentheLessons, Barat - Picky Critique.