How to Tongue on the Clarinet

Playing music on the clarinet requires a knowledge of tonguing technique.

Learning to tongue correctly will greatly enhance your ability as a clarinetist and allow you to play music that requires a quick and light tongue. Tonguing technique plays a major role in the intonation and timbre of the clarinet. The position of the tongue and the manner in which you hold your clarinet to tongue correctly will also affect airflow and density of sound. To learn to tongue correctly, you must learn the appropriate manner in which to articulate notes.

Learn about the tip, middle and back of the tongue. Articulations are created with the tip of the tongue. Density of tone is controlled by the middle of the tongue. The register of the notes changes the position of the back of the tongue. Practice saying the sound "dee" and notice how your lips, mouth and tongue move. Once you know what this feels like, practice saying the sound without vocalizing.

Place the clarinet in the appropriate position to play. Curve the bottom lip over the lower teeth, place the mouthpiece just inside your mouth and rest your top teeth on the top of the mouthpiece. Wrap your upper lips over the mouthpiece to form a seal. Articulate by pronouncing the sound "dee" without vocalizing and allow the tip of your tongue to lightly touch the reed. The middle of your tongue should lie flat, and the back of the tongue should be relaxed.

Practice tonguing slowly at first and gradually increase the speed as you develop your technique and skill.


To tongue faster, bring your tongue closer to the reed.


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