The Key to Single and Double Tonguing on the Flute

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The Key to Single and Double Tonguing on the Flute

Learning to single and double tongue well is imperative for flute players. In this article I will teach you the key to tonguing like a pro.

As students are just beginning to play the flute, learning how to tongue and articulate each note is very important. Once they are able to play each note and have the basics down, tonguing becoming crucial to convey the correct style and tone for each piece of music.

Single tonguing is probably one of the very first things you should learn how to do when you first start learning how to play the flute. You start by placing your tongue in a specific spot as you blow so that it separates your notes.  

This technique will transform your tone!

If you’ve learned in the premium lesson modules here at Learn Flute Online from the very beginning, this is something that has become second nature to you.

If you are self taught or a returning flutist I would encourage you to brush up on your single tonguing and make sure that you are using this skill. This technique will transform your tone and give a clean, crisp sound to your notes.

Many self-taught players play with a “whoo whoo” sound instead of a “twhoo twhoo”. Haha this reminds me of a train.. But it DOES make a difference in your tone.

Double tonguing is something that I teach in the Intermediate level. It can be learned before, but usually it is not until the Intermediate level that it is needed. As flute pieces start getting faster and more difficult it becomes almost impossible to single tongue each individual note. So flutists use double tonguing to make fast pieces more doable.

Double tonguing uses the front and back of your mouth. The first tongue uses the same motion as the single tonguing does, then you make a “k” sound in the back of your mouth. So double tonguing sounds like “too koo”.

At first this motion can seem a little awkward and difficult , but as you practice double tonguing will become easier and easier. This is essential if you would like to continue to progress and improve your flute playing abilities.

It is impossible to teach you everything you need to know about single and double tonguing by writing an article, but this should help get you started. And, you’re welcome to watch the video tutorials I have set for this exact skill. You’ll be great!

Leave a comment below if you have any questions about this topic. It’s always fun to continue the conversation.

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

4 thoughts on “The Key to Single and Double Tonguing on the Flute”

  1. In the Chopin variations on a theme of Rossini, is it possible to single tongue variation 4 at the marked tempo?

    1. Rebecca Fuller

      Hi Bob, thank you for your comment. This piece is so beautiful, I am glad you are learning it right now. Now to answer your question, I always tell my students that if the piece is moving too quickly for you to articulate each note clearly (when single-tonguing) then you should double tongue. I hope this helps! -Rebecca

  2. How would you recommend practicing synchronization of tonguing with fingerings?
    I have a piece with lots of up and down scale patterns, all 16ths and staccato-ed at Allegro (130-140 ish)
    I have been recommended to say the tonguing syllables out loud while precisely fingering the notes, and also to do an exercise where I tongue a note, stop the air, and switch my fingerings really fast, so the air cut off kind of resonates with the switched note.
    However, I am unsure if these are the best options, or if I’ve been doing them correctly.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Learning to get your tongue and fingers synchronized is a big deal. I can see the reasoning behind some of this advice you’re mentioning here, and I’d love to help you out with this even more and in a thorough way. Send me a quick email [email protected] and I’ll get you going. -Rebecca

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