How to Double Tongue a Trombone

Any trombone player, with a little effort, can learn double tonguing. It works by the process of sending air through the trombone in between normal articulations; this gives the instrumentalist the second articulation without using the tip of the tongue. Learning to play virtuoso, quickly articulated music would be almost impossible for many trombone players without this technique. The ability to double tongue makes it possible to tongue much faster than single tonguing alone.

Step 1: Say "tu" and notice where your tongue hits your mouth. The trombone player should notice that the tip of the tongue hits between the place where the teeth meet the gum line. This is how a normal articulation is performed.

Step 2: Say the word "ku" until you can feel the tongue pulling backward. Notice that when saying “ku” the tongue pulls back and air pushes forward. Make sure to practice without moving your lips since it is not possible to move your lips when playing.

Step 3: Practice your instrument by blowing air through the trombone and saying the word “ku.” Do not produce any sound right now, you are just trying to get comfortable with saying the word while blowing air through the trombone. Each time you say “ku” you will notice the sound of an articulation. Practice playing quarter notes using only the sound “ku.”

Step 4: Combine the words “tu-ku” together as air is flowing through the trombone. Pay careful attention to the sound. You want an equal separation between the two articulations. Continue practicing until this is comfortable, and then try it without saying the words.

Step 5: Pick a tone in the middle of your range that is comfortable to play. Hold this tone and practice double tonguing. Do not say “tu-ku” -- instead, mimic the motion produced. If you say the actual word, it will sound like you are talking through your trombone. The first time to do this successfully, you will have a breakthrough and it will become easier to do it again.

Step 6: Solidify the technique by practicing your music with double tonguing instead of single tonguing. This technique should only be used when you can’t effectively single tongue a passage.

Use a metronome to help time each articulation. There is a tendency to fall off the "ku" sound too quickly. The metronome will force you to keep the timing between articulations the same.


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