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I've been exploring ways to control and focus my air stream when playing trumpet with my tongue recently.

Many teachers talk about tongue arch and height, and that has a clear and great effect for me reaching higher notes. Somewhere in that process I realized that curling up the sides of my tongue a bit gives me even more range and seems to focus my air stream and allow me to compress the air a bit more.

I've never heard a teacher talk about (positively or negatively) curling the tongue. Maybe because some people actually can't do this for genetic reasons?

I'm going to be exploring this for a while for myself, but thought I'd ask if anyone here has comments or words of encouragement/caution about this.

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  • It's certainly a fact that some are tongue curlers, some aren't.
    – Tim
    Oct 4, 2022 at 16:43
  • If it’s only a slight curl I think I do the same thing on French horn and definitely on clarinet. Oct 4, 2022 at 20:49

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I think if you'd already curled your tongue, you wouldn't then be able to double- or triple- tongue, which both require you to articulate the start of the note with a K consonant, rather than the T you usually use.

Of course not every musical context uses trumpet double/triple tonguing, so this might not be a limiting factor for you. But for orchestral/military band/wind band/brass band, I think this would limit the music you could perform.

I also think tongue curling would limit your single-tonguing speed, and also limit your ability to use soft tonguing, using D rather than T

You'll find you can imagine that you're directing the airflow upwards or downwards into the mouthpiece cup without curling your tongue.

Most importantly, once the note has started you should get your tongue out of the way, so there's nothing constricting the airflow between your lungs and the inside of your lips. If you put constrictions in the way then you have to expend effort overcoming them, which makes playing more tiring, reducing your endurance.

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  • this is exactly the kind of response I was hoping for! All great things to think about and explore. One question for you about getting my tongue "out of the way" after the note has started. Do you mean that you raise the tongue to get the initial pitch, and then lower it once it's started to have better air flow?
    – pixelearth
    Oct 6, 2022 at 13:28

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