Tongue shape and location when playing

Basics of Flute Playing, Tone Production and Fingerings, Using Metronomes, Scales, Tone, Studies, etc.

Moderators: Classitar, pied_piper, Phineas

Post Reply
JamieFluteNewbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:06 pm

Tongue shape and location when playing

Post by JamieFluteNewbie »

Hello everyone.

My name is Jamie. I'm approaching "seasoned citizen" but have played clarinet and saxophone for well over 40 years, with stints in studio and at some jazz festivals.

But that is for background to help you get a handle on what I might know as useful background for the advice I'm looking for. You see, I'm new to the flute. I picked one up years ago (a Gemeinhardt 30B) and have really only been working at it for about 2 months (Covid-19 drove me to it).

So my questions here are primarily related to the stuff to the left of the body of the flute: I'm trying to find out what is typical for tongue placement when playing. I've looked online extensively for info about this but it pretty much comes up talking about tonguing technique.

I actually took one lesson with a flute major in my city and she gave me some useful exercises to work on tone production. But I found at the end of the lesson, I COULD NOT get any of my notes in the upper register anymore. After some experimentation and connecting the dots, I realized that she had coached me regarding embouchure shape and location relative to the lip plate but she said NOTHING about the shape of the tongue or the desired size and shape of the oral cavity.

I found that by making a somewhat smaller chamber with my tongue it enabled my high notes to come with ease.

When playing sax, I am well aware of how this affects the ease of hitting high and/or low notes. And when I thought about it, it left me curious that she never said anything about this at all. But when I realized what had changed (and I changed back) i thought it might be good to get an idea from the pros in here about this.

What is considered the optimal shape and location of the tongue as you are playing, relative to sound quality; also, do you find that changing the size of the oral cavity by tongue placement is something that you do as you play, or do you try to avoid that?

I'm interested in opinions on this. Thanks.

Jamie

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1918
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Tongue shape and location when playing

Post by pied_piper »

I also double on Sax, Flute , and Clarinet. For me, tonguing varies with the articulation. Depending upon what I'm playing, my tongue placement will vary a bit but it is usually based upon "too", "tee", "taa", "tuh", "doo", "dee" "daa", or "duh". And, that's not including the variations with double or even triple tonguing.

You might take a look at Jennifer Cluff's website and her tonguing/articulation articles:
https://www.jennifercluff.com/articu1.htm
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

JamieFluteNewbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:06 pm

Re: Tongue shape and location when playing

Post by JamieFluteNewbie »

Thanks. But actually, I'm not asking about "tonguing." I'm asking about the shape and placement of the tongue when you're NOT tonguing. In other words, what is the shape of the oral cavity when playing LEGATO?

User avatar
pied_piper
Posts: 1918
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Tongue shape and location when playing

Post by pied_piper »

Yes, but the answer I gave included various vowels used with tonguing. Those different vowels change the oral cavity. I thought that would be obvious.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

Post Reply