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Tonguing problems

Hey guys, so i have this problem with tonguing. I don't really know how to tongue, and when i kind of do it correctly it only "works" on the low register, in the middle and high register, the tonguing is kind of starting with a bad "thump" (this is what i meant with not really knowing how to tongue). Is it something on the embouchure and tongue position? Please tell me all details possible guys.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
The best thing to do would be to find a good private teacher to work with. Essentially tonguing is accomplished by touching the tip of the reed with the portion of the tongue just behind the tip. The sensation is like blowing/spitting a bit of lint off the end of the tongue. Good luck.


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
+1 to what jbtsax wrote above. It's hard for us experienced teachers even, to figure out what's going wrong without the benefit of working one on one with a student.

There are a couple of things I can recommend however, which might be of benefit and that I always talk to my students about:

  1. As students we were always told to say the word "tah" when starting a note. (Usually by our band teachers in elementary or middle school when we first started playing.) This is actually NOT the correct tongue position for a saxophone. The proper one is "tee". With tah the tongue is too flat, whereas with tee the tongue is arched more.
  2. To help with this, I have developed an exercise that I routinely give my students that might be of help to you. You can find it here on my website.
  3. The other book that I always highly recommend, is Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound, by David Liebman. You can find it through Jamey Aebersole, Amazon, and quite possible through a brick and mortar store near you. In the book you'll find quite helpful hints, as well as diagrams of various tonguing positions vis–à–vis the mouthpiece.
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