I am a "come-back" trumpet player. Consider being Intermediate level. Have a Yamaha YTR 3335 Trumpet. I try to warm-up and practice daily for 1 hour.
I have been concentrating on Single and Double Tonguing to try to improve these techniques. I have read and studied a large number of articles, videos and listened to well-known trumpeters.
I still have a problem with the "Ka", (or similar) syllable. I find it difficult to pronounce the "Ka" syllable and blow a note on the trumpet. The lip formation is not conducive to blowing a note. ( I understand that the "ka" is to be obtained at the back of the tongue.) I do not appear to have this problem with the "Tu" syllable.


3 Answers 3


A few practice tips:

  • Keep the vowel consistent: rather than "tu ka", try "tu ku" or "ta ka".
  • Try different vowels: "tee kee" or even "toh koh" might work better for you.
  • Try different consonants: "D" and "G" are often taught instead of "T" and "K". I use both depending on the musical demands of what I'm playing, but "D/G" might get you started and "T/K" can come later.
  • Practice without the trumpet: This was a key for me, just being able to quickly produce the syllables and then to speak them continuously.
  • Practice with mouthpiece only: In addition to playing without the full resistance of the trumpet, it can also be helpful to speak into the mouthpiece to get some tactile feedback on whether your lips are changing shape, which they should not. The rest our your mouth shape may change, but the lips should remain consistent.
  • Practice "ha" with no tonguing: This is to reinforce your air support. With the regular "T" tonguing, you can get away with using only the air in your mouth, so to speak, because the air is behind the consonant. This doesn't work with "K", because the air is in front of the consonant and because of the tendency to close the throat. Making sure you've got a solid "H", will help preserve the feel of it when reintroducing the "K".
  • Be aware that using 'D' and 'G' will give a muddier articulation than 'T' and 'K'. I would add: start slow! Focus on getting the 'T/K' or 'D/G' part right, and worry about speed later.
    – avid
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 6:20

In addition to Aaron's useful suggestions:

  • Practise the 'K' sound on its own. You could alternately play a scale or simple melodic motif using 'T' articulation then 'K'. The goal here is to make the 'K' sound as incisive as the 'T'. Bear in mind that what you hear by conduction through your skull to your ears is not the same as the room sound that everyone else hears. Try using a sound recorder to see what you actually sound like. You could also do simple rhythmic patters like TTTT Ta and then KKKK Ka.
  • It's important that both 'T' and 'K' articulations are as rapid as possible (think of a snake darting its tongue in and out). Most of the time your tongue should be low in your mouth, only moving when you need to articulate the next note.
  • Lots of players double tongue in a way that makes each note really short. The overall effect is to sound constipated. I'd suggest instead you try to make each articulated note as long as you possibly can; imagine that instead of producing tiny packets of air, you're producing a constant stream of air that you're 'notching' with your tongue; so the air doesn't stop.
  • When you start playing 16th note passages using double tonguing (alternating 'T' and 'K' articulation on each successive note) try switching it around so that you lead with the 'K', so you'd be able to switch between TKTK and KTKT patterns.
  • Be patient and don't beat yourself up. Double tonguing is not magic, it's an acquirable skill but there's no fast way to learn. You need to use good practice habits and repeat the exercises until it's second nature.
  • In all aspects of practice there's a concept like Venn diagrams (you know those overlapping circles from school?) If we try to practice a technique without proper thought, we end up trying to play loud and high and fast all at the same time (e.g. combining two or more techniques) what we're practising is the overlap of three circles of technique. Far better to think about what you practise and then you can practice one technique on its own. So for double tonguing, get all the other techniques out of the way - don't use valves, don't play high, don't play too loud or too quiet - that way you can focus on the one technique you are trying to practise.
  • Big ups for the "K"-only practice. And shame on me for forgetting that one.:-)
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 14:31

wikihow suggests using the word "ticket" as a way to think about tongue placement - I think it also encourages small tongue movement and repetition (thereby better control and faster) between the "t" and the "k", by keeping the tongue arched a bit, compared to using "ta" and "ka". May not work for everyone and important to start slow.

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