Articulation for Advanced Players Part I

Part I

…of what I can see being a lengthy discussion. By now, you have learned how to articulate correctly and you’re able to tongue sixteenths at moderate speeds comfortably such as quarter note=112. For some, sixteenths at quarter=120 is stretch. For others, the next threshold that evades them is quarter note=132. Let us all start on the same page with this and perhaps revisit my Articulation for Beginners and Articulation for Intermediate Players before going on.


Done? Wonderful. LOL. One thing I mention in the previous lessons is the use of the word “lee.” “Lee” is used to stress lightness of the tongue especially for young players. By now, you know what that lightness sounds like by listening to many professional clarinetists. To achieve this, the first step is understanding the graduation of going from “lee” to “nee.”

Step 1: Find your pre-molars or bicuspids on the top. I found mine as you can see below.

Anchoring Sides of Tongue to Premolars

The premolars are the teeth right after the canines (Dracula teeth) and before the rest of your molars.

Step 2: By anchoring the SIDES of the tongue to each premolar and saying “nee,” the clarinetist can feel how the rest of the tongue stays in place and only the first quarter to third of the tongue is what moves. Say “heee nee nee nee nee.” You’ll notice that compared to “hee lee lee lee lee” the tongue feels a little more free to move and less restricted. You can also retain your high tongue voicing when anchoring the tongue on both sides. The purpose of using “lee” with younger students is to stress very little tongue on very little reed. Some students when saying the word “knee” will use half of the tongue thus creating more of a thudiness that we are trying to avoid.


Step 3: In 52 Clarinet Secrets by Michelle Gingras, Gingras starts with a bouncing ball affect to teach articulation speed. By saying, “hee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee” etc. and going faster as you keep saying “nee” you create a basketball dribbling effect. The faster you go, the closer the tongue gets to the reed.

More to come…

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