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Start and end of sound in the saxophone

The start of sound

  1. Inhale
  2. Place your teeth
  3. Suround the mouthpiece
  4. Put the tongue on the reed
  5. Make air pressure
  6. Remove the tongue

The end of sound

The end of the sound is as important as the start. To end the sound you have 2 options:

  1. Reduce or end the air flow
  2. Touch the reed with the tongue

Both have advantages, ending the air flow is better when there is a rest or the sound needs to rest close to the end.

Attack and end – Using air flow

Attack and end – Using air flow

Attack and end – Using tongue

Attack and end – Using tongue


Stacatto refers to the separation of sounds while tonguing is the technique to achieve it.

Tonguing Syllabes

  • Tu: Most used for regular and fast stacatto
  • Du: most used in lyric music and legato-staccato passages
  • La: its a very delicated touch of the reed. Some artists touch only one side of the reed.

How to practice

Practice using a single note until you master the figure

Practice the stacatto with scales in different tempos

Practice with some music sheet


Excercise 1

Excersise 2


  1. Removing the tongue makes the sound start. Tongue is used to stop the vibration not to produce it.
  2. Air support should remain constant during fast tonguing
  3. A soft touch to the reed will stop the air. A hard touch will create wrong sound
  4. The attack of the tongue should be short but contundent, moving only the front part. Moving bigger areas of the tongue will make the mouth chamber to change affecting the sound
  5. Hit rythm is the base. Use metronome
  6. The movement of stacatto phrases should be studied after the technique of the phrase is perfect in rythm and is secured.
  7. Compare the tongue as the gear clutch in a car, the tongue puts the reed in “ready to change” or “changed” but the engine (air column) keeps running.
  8. mouthpice and muscles should remain relaxed and in the same position when you play a lyric phrase.

Double tonguing (double staccato)

Consist on adding a new method to stop the reed vibration by closing the air flow with the throat.

Start practicing by closing the airflow by using “Ku”. Focus on the sound quality, it cannot sound out of tune.

After a while when the sound is the same as using “Tu”, practice this:

It can pass several months until you get it, then try shorten the rest instead of the sound.

After you have mastered that try:

A good measure is, if the regular tonguing “tu-tu-tu-tu” is good at 132 then you can do double tonguing at 116

Triple tonguing (triple staccato)

You should practice this only after you have mastered the double tonguing


To play a legato the artist requires to sustain the air column.

These are common issues that affects the quality of a legato

  1. Lack of finger syncronization
  2. Shake the air column on sound conections
  3. Leading Tempo with the air column
  4. Relaxing the sound at the end of the sound
  5. Changing the mouthpiece to reach high notes
  6. Different finger pressure in the keys or wrong selection of keys to make the notes

Scales and Interval studies (3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, 8ve) when played slowly can be good material of studying this technique.

Avoid making accents of sounds with the air column