MASTER OF HIS TRADE - Remembering Allan Littlemore

Issue 6082

COVID ROADMAP - Optimism at route out of restrictions

COMPOSER CAST - Christopher Bond meets Naomi Styles

BB Brass Masterclass: Tom Hutchinson on the tongue

Tuesday 23 February, 2021

With the vaccine roll-out in full swing, many players have begun the process of dusting down their instruments and oiling their valves, hopeful of better times ahead. What isn’t such a quick fix, however, is the road to regaining stamina and control on the instrument.

Cory Band’s principal cornet player Tom Hutchinson returns to the pages of British Bandsman to share his expertise on all matters relating to an important tool in every brass player’s trade: the tongue.


It’s fair to say we’re all experiencing an uphill climb right now to find the strength and stamina we once had (some more than others, depending on how long you’ve had off) but it does pose the question: is it only our chops we need to build back up?

When I took six weeks off playing during the 2020 summer lockdown, the area that suffered most when I picked up my cornet again was tonguing. Whether it’s production, flexibility, articulation, consistency, or single and multiple tonguing, these areas play a pivotal role in the overall quality of our playing. In this article I’ll try and highlight the importance of the tongue, how we use it and how we can train it.

In my previous article on motivation, I discussed practice routines, how to keep your chops in shape and reasons as to why we should still play during lockdown. I didn’t go into too much detail about keeping the tongue in shape. It is imperative to note that the tongue is a muscle and just like any other muscle in your body, it can be trained and strengthened. This means that we must work the tongue in our daily practice to achieve consistency, speed and stamina that allows us to play more challenging music.


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