Unlocking the Tongue’s Full Potential

Playing the saxophone is an art that requires mastery of various techniques, and one crucial aspect is tonguing. Proper tonguing can enhance your playing, allowing you to express yourself more effectively and achieve a better overall sound. In this article, we will explore the importance of air flow, the mechanics of tonguing, and techniques to improve your tonguing skills. Join Martino from the London Saxophone School as he shares his expertise and provides valuable insights to help you become a better saxophone player and musician.

Air is King

Before delving into the intricacies of tonguing, it is vital to understand the role of air in producing a beautiful saxophone sound. Martino emphasizes that “air is king.” The flow of air through your instrument is what gives life to your music. Without adequate airflow, your sound may suffer. Focus on connecting your notes smoothly, slurring them together, and ensuring a continuous stream of air. By prioritizing your sound and maintaining a consistent flow of air, your tonguing skills will naturally improve.

Mastering Tonguing Techniques

To achieve precise and controlled tonguing, it is important to minimize the amount of tongue inside your mouth. A heavy tongue can result in a dull and heavy sound. Instead, aim for a light and gentle touch with your tongue. Martino shares a simple visualization technique that can help: imagine tonguing with the tip of your tongue. Although it’s not necessary to exclusively tongue with the tip, this trick allows the brain to perceive a lighter touch, encouraging the tongue to naturally rest in a more optimal position.

Martino demonstrates that by adopting this visualization technique, the tongue naturally curves inward, resting slightly on the inside part. Remember, the goal is not to force the tongue into an unnatural position but to train the brain to perceive a lighter touch. By embracing this concept, your tonguing will become more precise and effortless.

Practical Exercises

To develop your tonguing skills, Martino shares an exercise that can help beginners and experienced players alike. Start by playing a long note, focusing on maintaining a steady airflow. Once you have established a solid foundation, progress to tonguing the note twice, leaving a gap between each tongued sound. This exercise encourages you to focus on the action of the tongue and reflect on your technique. Avoid rushing or cramming too many notes within a short time frame. Instead, take your time and allow yourself to think and adjust between each tongued note. This approach will enhance your control and precision.


Tonguing is a fundamental skill for saxophonists, and improving your tonguing technique can greatly enhance your musical expression. By prioritizing a steady flow of air and focusing on a light touch with your tongue, you can achieve greater control and clarity in your playing. Remember to approach tonguing with patience and give yourself time to reflect and adjust. With consistent practice and dedication, you will unlock your full potential as a saxophone player.

Remember to subscribe to the London Saxophone School’s channel for more tutorials and tips on becoming a better saxophonist. Embrace the power of air, visualize tonguing with the tip of your tongue, and enjoy the journey of mastering this essential technique. Your saxophone playing will flourish, and your musicality will soar to new heights. Happy practicing!

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