How to play staccato

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Tobias014, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Tobias014

    Tobias014 New Friend

    Sep 7, 2013
    I recently found out that I use a tongue stop when ever I play staccato and because of this I have trouble doing rapid staccato articulations. When I try playing staccato without using a tongue stop, I can't do it. Can anyone lend some help as to how to unlearn this bad habit and play a true staccato?
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Tobias,
    You asked:
    "I recently found out that I use a tongue stop when ever I play staccato."
    A tongue stop isn't a bad thing. It is one more tool in your arsenal of tonguing methodology. Unfortunatley, Playing a child's lullaby and stopping the air with your tongue isn't going to sound too relaxing. To stop the air, chances are you are saying or articulating "tat" This is a very common problem among trumpet players so you shouldn't feel alone.
    Interestingly, the only real difference between singing and trumpet playing is the exchange of the vocal cords for the lips.
    So, if you can sing it, you should be able to play it,right?
    Try this:
    Sing, Mary Had a Little Lamb and stop the air with the tongue and if your singing really sucks, so what. Tell the neighbors to "bite me" and keep trying to do this. Stopping the air with the tongue while singing is bloody difficult isn't it?
    Now, sing the song as you normally would. At no time did the tongue shut off the air and now the song sounds pretty good. Here's the trick, play like you sing. A series of sharp staccato notes would possibly be Tee,Tee,Tee or Ta,Ta,Ta and not Tat,Tat,Tat, whereas a series of legato notes would be La,La,La. It is important to keep the tongue loose and flexible. I think it was VB that said, "The faster you go, the more loose the tongue need to be" Wise words indeed!
    Now, for the next experiment(this shouldn't cause any perminent damage,I think):
    Stiffen up your tongue like you normally would when you play trumpet and sing Mary Had a Little Lamb. It's almost like you have a foreign object in your mouth, right? Now, relax your tongue and sing the song like you have many times before. Makes quite a difference huh?
    Play like you sing or talk. Ta,Ta,Ta or Te,Te,Te, for staccato and La,La,La for legato. Don't stop the air with your tongue unless the music or style calls for it.
    Hope this helps and good luck and as for habits, it takes about 21 days to a month of steady daily practice to get into a new way of doing something.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  3. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I tell my students to pretend they're popping a bubble - TA....TA...TA... Let the sound spread naturally without more breath - but make sure the attack is tight and short.

    Like a bubble, you can see (in this case, hear) the pop and see the soap fall (or hear the note's pitch).

    There's a place to cut off staccato notes with your tongue, but i haven't run across many.
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Never say... I can't do it. If you say it... it is so. So delete this line from your post and move forward with the excellent advice just given above this one. Make it so.
  5. Rapier

    Rapier Forte User

    Jul 18, 2011
    But some times it is so. I can't do a standing back somersault. It is so.

    A Musical Director once handed me a ridiculously hard solo ( some Oboe solo adapted for tenor horn ). I said "I can't play this". He said, "Dave, be more positive". I said, "OK. I'm positive I can't play this". :cool:
  6. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    The Old ones are the best eh
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    And you can do sooo much with them.... Once dementia has set in.
  8. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    One way that I use is to practice tonguing without the horn. This I can do when I am driving and listening to music or when I am watching TV or working outside. Anywhere. I do this primarily to practice my breathing (working on a more relaxed breath). What I have found is that the tongue is more fluid. For staccato, I think of a "tut" sound versus a "tu" or "du" sound for legato.

    As in any practice of any method for any function, start slow, then gradually increase the speed. Be consistent, and be committed to making the change. Just remember that you will either make the change or not. The word "trying" only shows the lack of commitment and effort on your part.
  9. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I think Tobias already has the "tut-tut" down - and his problem is getting OUT of that mode of playing staccato. He does not want to stop the sound with his tongue, which saying "tut" will do.

    My personal opinion is that the "tut" articulation should be used very sparingly, if at all.

    Tobias - when practicing the "non-tut" staccato - you will probably start out with a sound that seems too long. Do it a note at a time - every second.
    TU......TU (or TA, if you like). Once you get the feel of it, work on speeding up.

    • Put the horn down.
    • Whisper "TUUU". Think of "spitting" the note out, and keep your mouth open in a small "O" after you say "TU," letting your tongue "linger" in your mouth, making sure NOT to stop the sound with it.
    • Now shorten the "TUUU" to "TUU" and then to "TU" and finally to "T"
    • Now try with the trumpet - in a comfortable range.

    This will take time to master, but your phrasing, tone, and overall musicality will be much improved.

    Have fun and don't get discouraged.
  10. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    Dangerorges, what I read in the OP's problem was that he was using his tongue to stop the flow of air. What I think he is experiencing is that he is using a breath attack along with the "tut" sound. I had a similar problem, which affected my phrasing in playing music. I changed the placement of my embouchure lower on the mouthpiece, as well as the placement of my tongue to anchor lightly on the lower teeth. When I realized that I had the same problem, I began to practice relaxed breathing. The tongue still has to block the flow of air, but now it feels like the air is moving my tongue forward. I practice the "tut", "tu", "du", "ta", "ka, "ga" sounds the same way. Regardless of the sounding, the air must be kept moving.

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