“Is it really necessary to tongue”?……..Yes indeed

Hello again Mr. Friedland. I am concerned about tonguing. I would
like to ask you if it is really necsessary to tongue. I can make a
nice sound without it so what is the big deal with it. My teacher
said I needed to learn how to do it and others tell me all notes
should be tongued except when slurring. Is that true


Hi Kristin:

As far as using your tongue to start the sound of the clarinet, your teacher is absolutely right.
The reed works just like the pipe on an organ. What the reed is allowed to vibrate, it is because air is allwed to flow past it causing it to vibrate, as is the case with the clarinet.
One has to learn to use the tongue because that is the most accurate way to start the reed vibrating and making the music as you wish or as it is written.
If you do not use the tongue, you may make a nice sound, but not necessarily in the correct place, and you will never be able to get the sound to come out rapidly on repeated tonguing passages.
Initially this is difficult to do cleanly, but you must just practice slowly and it will come to you and you will be able to use the tongue in a most subtle musical way, as you wish.
The discipline of tonguing leads to the freedom of playing correctly, and of course having real control over the instrument. You can learn to tongue so well that the control you gain will make it sound as if you were simply making beautiful music. Music is always the answer.
Good luck in all your work.
Play well.

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