Probably the best way to improve the speed of your tongue is to use a single note and focus on rhythm, consistency of attack and sound. It is really important to consider control of the valves, changing pitch as well as the accuracy of tongue movement. Above all, it is important to keep the air moving, as though you are playing a long note. Try practicing exercises with a variety of different tonguing techniques.
Some key points to consider include:
- Start in the middle register
- Aim to maintain a consistent placement across the range
- Use a metronome – start slowly and increase the speed gradually over a number of days or weeks. Try to not to be in a hurry to get to a quicker tempo!
- At all tempi aim to keep the notes even and consistent. Really listen carefully for any problems or drops in quality of sound or production. This is obviously easier at a slow tempo.
- Keep the volume at a comfortable level – try to stay at a mf level
- Breathe when necessary
- If you find that you remain stuck on a tempo for a number of weeks, go back to a slower speed and listen for any inaccuracies or problems before increasing the tempo again.
- Try to take the speed to a pace where it is no longer possible to go any faster as this may well help to push the boundaries a little further each time you play.
Start working with regular rhythmic patterns, for example a crotchet followed by a crotchet rest, groups of crotchets, then quavers, then quaver triplets then semiquavers. Remember to keep use of the tongue clear and consistent.
Following this, try working on irregular note groupings such as these:
Obviously it will be necessary to transpose these exercises up/down into different registers.