What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played



  • Here's a topic that's sure to cause many to examine and re-examine how the tongue behaves when we play.
    As for me, the tongue is the "canary in the coal mine". My tongue remains loose and flexible. When it begins to stiffen, I'm using too much tension and force (blowing too hard). When I notice this, I ease up on the tension.
    In addition, I use the tongue to determine what range I'm in. Many say that their tongue stays on the floor of their mouth. I can't figue that one out. As for me, the sound "aaaaa" is for low notes and "EEEEE" for higher notes.
    With that said, my tongue is

    1. a monitor for tension and
    2. it determines what range I'm in. Am I playing a middle C, "aaaaaaa" with my tongue on the floor of my mouth or a high C. "EEEEEE" with the tongue near the roof of my mouth.


  • Right, just that I can defer to the anchor-tongue players, too. I'm not sure that one is superior to another as opposed to just preference. The tongue controls the air flow. I believe, to keep it most manageable it should remain flexible.



  • I am so unaware of what my tongue does when I am playing... the good doctor says, tongue in cheek!

    I am concentrating on so many volumes of sensory input, like the sound, texture coming from my bell and how they are leading to my observations of how the audience is reacting. Tongue... oh yeah I must have one of them, and where that dynamic comes into play is how good that gin and tonic tastes when I am on break!



  • Hi Kehaulani,
    You mentioned anchor-tongue players. Many might not know what that is so here's a snippet from blackwellstrumpetbasics.com;
    "The tongue resting behind the bottom teeth is what’s referred to as the “anchor.” While playing with an Anchor-Tongue set, the tip of the tongue remains set behind the bottom teeth during most normal playing as dictated by the musician’s technical development. Contrary to what the name may imply, the front of the tongue is not forcibly “held down” or “pressed in,” but rather, when learned, more “floating” behind the bottom teeth. You can get a good feel for this by pronouncing the “eau” part of the world “beautiful.”



  • @Dr-GO said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    I am so unaware of what my tongue does when I am playing.


    A player's sound can; Be blatty because its how they learned. They use too much force and tension and maintain a rigid tongue which sounds blatty. Another situation is when fatigue sets in and the person struggles, tenses up and the tongue becomes rigid which results in a rough or blatty sound (that would be for people like us). In your situation, when fatigue sets in, how is your sound? I suggest when sets get long and you start to feel tired, paying occasional attention to the tongue might be a good idea. As far as gin and tonic, it helps with how we think we sound which is often a far cry from how we actually sound.



  • These are the types of questions that get inside my head.
    It will now take me weeks, maybe months, to stop concentrating on what my tongue is doing while I'm playing.
    It’s ok, though. I got over the wet or dry lip dilemma fairly unscathed. My therapist says I am making great progress.



  • @BigDub said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    These are the types of questions that get inside my head.
    It will now take me weeks, maybe months, to stop concentrating on what my tongue is doing while I'm playing.
    It’s ok, though. I got over the wet or dry lip dilemma fairly unscathed. My therapist says I am making great progress.

    You know, this is tongue-in-cheek, but there's a ton of truth in it.

    When I was in Haynie's master class at North Texas, we micro-analyzed Farkas' book, studied imaging videos, learning the fine points of physiological movement applied to brass playing. "Paralysis by analysis". I got so confused micro-managing the fine, mechanical points of playing, it messed me up, totally. Quit playing for a semester.

    I'm not rejecting an analytical approach, some people's minds work differently, but for me, to an extent at least, the mind is much more compelling. I mean visual imagery. A saying I borrowed from the martial arts is, "The body follows the mind". I am terribly non-analytical and much more intuitive.



  • @BigDub said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    These are the types of questions that get inside my head.


    Hi BigDub,
    If you're like me, you're works in progress. The tongue can be used as a gauge to detect if we're working too hard. The tongue should be loose and flexible but if its not, there's a good chance that the person is using way too much force to play. Think of the tongue as the canary in the coal mine. When it becomes stiff and rigid, check yourself for undue tension and force



  • My tongue does what I need for articulation. What that is, I have no clue, but pretty sure there isn’t much tongue arch stuff going on.



  • I'm in the same place Rapier. I have tried to play with tongue arch and roll in, but it just won't click. Probably hard to break with the way i have always played. Also pretty sure my range has been limited by my playing style though. Why i have been experimenting.



  • I've tried to describe to players I know how the tongue arch coordinates with the aperture, air, articulation points and general feeling of the oral resonant chamber. Trouble is, everyone's perceptions are so different and frankly, most people are quite unaware of what they are doing. Plus the style of music may also dictate the settings of the above factors. There are high note players that have everything happening in the first half inch of space behind the lips. There are other players with huge oral resonant chambers and need that for the style they play. And everything in between. I know what I do. But apparently that doesn't ring any bells when I try to help others.



  • Then there's the question about using a "Doodle-tongue", or no tongue, in jazz articulations.



  • @Kehaulani said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    "The body follows the mind".


    I like that! Its as good as "the feet are the remote control for the rest of the body"
    May I suggest that the body will experience fatigue long before we recognize it and it might be a good idea to occasionally pay attention to the tongue to see if it is stiff. If its flexed like a pumped bicep, a person might want to entertain loosening up their tongue. There seems to be a link between blowing with too much force and a stiff tongue.
    Possibly it takes a stiff tongue to contend with the forced air which is generated from excessive abdominal tightness. Is this a fact? I don't know but there seems to be a connection or at least it works on my students and it works for them. There's a difference between support (which a person needs to have) and excessive abdominal strain which forces the air.



  • It’s a funny thing. You don’t have to think to breathe. It just happens automatically. But when you are playing you have to think about how to breathe correctly and in fact when I am playing in front of a crowd I find it’s very helpful to remind myself to breathe, breathe, breathe!
    I don’t think about the tongue or what its doing. It just knows what to do.



  • @Kehaulani said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    Then there's the question about using a "Doodle-tongue", or no tongue, in jazz articulations.


    Regardless of the articulation, the tongue should stay loose and flexible.



  • Hi BigDub,
    You stated that, "You don’t have to think to breathe. It just happens automatically."
    There's nothing natural about the proper breathing needed to play the trumpet.
    Look at all the info that's out there addressing just that topic. For example Circle of Breath.
    As for the tongue, it's just one way of monitoring tension and force.



  • @BigDub
    This isn't about this topic but you may still enjoy it. Check out "what in tune sounds like"
    I hope you like it. Matt Harloff is great in the videos



  • @Dr-Mark said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    Hi BigDub,
    You stated that, "You don’t have to think to breathe. It just happens automatically."
    There's nothing natural about the proper breathing needed to play the trumpet.
    Look at all the info that's out there addressing just that topic. For example Circle of Breath.
    As for the tongue, it's just one way of monitoring tension and force.
    When I said you don’t have to think to breathe, I meant in your normal daily activities. It is an unconscious activity. Not, however, while playing trumpet. Yes. I knew that.



  • @Dr-Mark said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    @BigDub
    This isn't about this topic but you may still enjoy it. Check out "what in tune sounds like"
    I hope you like it. Matt Harloff is great in the videos

    Very nice. I am surprised I found it. There was no link......I just highlighted it and pressed "look up"
    I would like to hear that done by a pro trumpet player with various models of trumpets from yard sale to custom made for a top symphony trumpet player.



  • @BigDub said in What Does The Tongue Do When The Trumpet Is Played:

    When I said you don’t have to think to breathe, I meant in your normal daily activities. It is an unconscious activity. Not, however, while playing trumpet. Yes. I knew that.


    OOPS! My bad. That's me once again not putting my common sense in gear.


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