One of the most common queries I receive is how to improve clarinet articulation. Many people focus so much on the tongue that they neglect the air.
I truly believe that 90% of clarinet problems can be traced back to air, and articulation is no exception. (Don’t get me wrong – there are certainly issues that can arise with the tongue and other factors, but we’ll save those for another blog post. You can also check out my complete guide to clarinet articulation to learn more about improving your tonguing.)
On to this week’s quick fix – play with a slurred sound!
When I tell my students to play with a slurred sound, it simply means to focus on the air. Usually when I say this, students become too focused on other factors such as articulation or other elements, and the air suffers, which makes everything more difficult! Use fast, focused air and keep the air moving for an instantly better sound.
So, if you notice that your sound is different when you slur and when you tongue, the culprit is probably your air. To reinforce the proper air quantity and quality, play the passages you’re working on slurred a few times. Once you’re happy with your slurred sound, see if you can mimic the air while articulating. Doesn’t it sound better?
Have a great weekend, and happy practicing!