Trumpet Tonguing Exercises

by Ross Garner
Practicing away from your trumpet can develop your tongue strength.

Practicing away from your trumpet can develop your tongue strength.

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When it comes to playing the trumpet, the tongue is the most important muscle, and like any muscle it needs regular exercise. While this will develop naturally over the course of your trumpet practice, you can do exercises that strengthen your tongue and increase its endurance.


Few people do not walk every day, and the steady tempo of walking offers an ideal opportunity for tongue practice. Michael Droste of Trumpet Studio recommends that each step you take should be a double-tongue syllable. So on the left step you say "ti," on the right step you say "ka" and so forth. Clearly enunciate each syllable. After two weeks, try doubling the speed. So on each step say "ti-ka" as clearly as you can.

One Note

For this exercise, you should play just one note on the trumpet again and again. For the first bar, play it four times, for the second bar play it eight times, for the third bar 16 and for the fourth play 32. Finally, hold the note for as long as you can. It is not the most musical composition, but varying the speed that you tongue at will get the muscle used to quick changes in motion. When you first try this, you should play at a relatively low tempo. Consider purchasing a metronome to keep time for you, which you can then speed up as you become more confident with the exercise.


When learning how to double tongue, Lisa Blackmore of Lindenwood University recommends a whisper exercise away from the trumpet. This technique practices the "dah gah" syllables. To begin, loudly whisper "gaa" and notice where your tongue touches. You want this point of contact to be as far forward as possible and to use the same amount of air as you would when playing the trumpet. Once you have tried this a few times, try to say "I dug-a-hole" quickly several times. Then, "I dug-a-dug-a-hole". The faster you can do this the better conditioned your tongue will be.


It is possible to buy music specifically written to strengthen the tongue. These will begin with simple techniques and work up to a more vigorous tongue workout and are available online or from your music shop.

About the Author

Ross Garner began writing professionally in 2008. Before this he took part in placements with the "Press & Journal," "G41" and "G42" magazines, then began paid freelance work for "Enterprise Matters" magazine. He now works for "Scottish Television" online. Earlier this year Garner graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in journalism and creative writing with English.

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