Triple tounging: The ultimate A-Z guide

Here's the ultimate guide to triple tounging on the trumpet, trombone and other brasswinds. If you having trouble articulating particularly fast with single tounging, this is just what you need.

In this guide, I want to teach you how to triple tongue on the trumpet. If you follow the technique I'm about to show you here, you'll be smashing it out of the park in no time.

In the previous guide we looked at double tounging, and before that, we had looked at single tounging. You might want to have a look at those guides first because triple tounging builds on the "t", "k", "d",and "g" tounging concepts covered in detail in both of those guides.

As you might expect, triple tounging is a little more complicated than both single tounging and double tounging. But if you've got both of these locked down, it's nothing you can't pick up with a fair bit of practice.

Let's dive right into the technque.

Trumpet triple tounging: The ultimate A-Z guide

What is triple tounging?

If you are curious about triple tounging, you probably know that the regular single tongue position is "ta" or "da" tounging.

You probably also know that what we do for double tounging is a rocking backward and forward between two different tongue positions — the single tongue position at the front or tip of the tongue, and then another syllable that's further back on the tongue, typically, "ka" or "ga" tounging.

So, for instance, for double tounging you might be going "ta-ka-ta-ka-ta-ka...".

That's fairly straightforward.

Triple tounging is where we use two front tongues and a third back tongue. That's front-front-back. Triple tounging is, often wrongly, taught wrongly as one front-back-front. The difference between the two approaches is minimal, but there is a difference.

Both are worth knowing. Both exist as valid alternatives but the one that is the most acceptable in the modern era, and slightly more efficient, is the former.

How to triple tongue the trumpet quickly with clarity

If we are doing triple tounging, it's a little more complicated. We tend to go "ta-ta-ka-ta-ta-ka...". That's a sequence with two single toungues and the back of the tongue on the third of the triplet.

That's two "t" or "d" toungues followed by a "k" or "g" tounging.

The reason triple tounging holds us up a little bit is because, quite simply, we are not used to articulating with the syllable on the back of the tongue — same as double tounging.

So what we actually need to is to improve our double tounging and get it co-ordinated.

We need to spend time single tounging with that "ka" or "ga" syllable to get good at triple tounging.

This is easy.

Whatever exercises we used to practice single tounging at the front of the tongue with "ta" or "da" tounging, we do with the back of the tongue.

With practice, your single tounging and double tounging will come together and work quite nicely. That's what you have to do to make your triple tounging faster and cleaner.

Practice single tounging using the "ka" or "ga" tounging to get it co-ordinated and working for you, and then get into practicing the co-ordination between the two for double tounging, and between the three for triple tounging.

Practice to get everything co-ordinated.

Of course, like we mentioned before, when you are developing that co-ordination for triple tounging to begin with, it's important to go slowly, particularly if you are playing things that aren't on the same note, so you can get it nice clean and consistent.

A few note on practicing triple tounging exercises

The exercises are pretty much the same as what we did for single and double tounging, albeit with some variations as discussed above.

Do the practice exercises, as explained above, 5 minutes a day, for, at least, a week.

The reason it's recommended you do tounging exercises for at least 5 minutes is because we want to get oast the point of pain with your tongue.

Your tongue will get swollen and feel bad — we want to get it to the other side of that.

I'm not saying it's going to feel good when you're done doing this, but it will feel okay. You are training a muscle.

The other thing you need to look out for is not moving your jaw at all as you do the exercise. This is so that the tounging does not mess with your embouchure.

Remember, that practice is not about speed. It is about clarity of articulation first and speed second.

So it's important not to play them too short, otherwise you're going to play them too fast.

Top tip for triple tonguing on the trumpet

Tip #1 — Work on timing between your tongue and your fingers when practicing

One advantage that the trombone has over the trumpet (and other brass instruments) is that with the trumpet, you really have to work on timing between our tongue and your fingers.

If you create a note that falls when your valves are only half way down, then the sound isn't going to get produced properly.

It is really important that you tongue when your valves are all the way down or up.

So there is a lot of work that goes into, not necessarily technique but the timing of the technique. On the trumpet, your lips and fingers need to be in perfect sync.

A trombone will create a sound regardless of where the slide is, whether it's halfway or whether the slide has arrived at the position we are currently search for.

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