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Do you know the 3 elements of fast articulation?

Here in CA, we’re about a month (maybe a bit less) away from CMEA festival, and I imagine that in other states you’ll be on a similar schedule, so I think it’s a perfect time to talk about the secret behind successfully executing fast articulated passages on oboe. Please feel free to share this blog with your students, and let me know if it’s helpful!

Elements of fast tonguing

There are 3 elements of fast tonguing that students need to coordinate:

  • Tongue moving away from reed

  • Air moving across the tongue into the reed

  • Fingers playing the correct notes

So, the first thing students need to think about is: which of the three elements are giving me trouble? Then, they can use the following practice techniques to work on those elements.


The tongue has one fundamental movement to do: withdraw from the reed quickly. As you work through the skill of fast tonguing, remember that your tongue needs to move away from the reed faster. A faster movement away from the reed will allow a faster return to the reed without a lot of thought.


When playing fast articulated passages, it’s super easy to stop supporting the notes with fast air, but fast air is what allows your tongue to move fast! So speed up your air even 5%, and you’ll feel more comfortable getting through fast tongued passages.


It can be hard to coordinate everything and play the correct notes when at a fast tempo. To work on just the fingers, I suggest playing the passage at a slower tempo and all slurred. When slurring rather than tonguing, you can focus on just making the notes really accurate, and train your air to move faster through the notes. So, choose your slow tempo carefully, then get all the notes super accurate all slurred before you start to bring the tempo back closer to performance tempo.

Until next week,



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