Air in Front of Articulation

Many players have difficulty getting a note to respond immediately. This often times results from having the tongue and the air not being properly coordinated. No matter what the dynamic, you should aim to have the sound fully resonate the instant the tongue is released allowing the air to escape your oral cavity. I regularly encounter students who have an air stream that is moving too slowly, too unevenly, or starts moving too late in relation to the release of the tongue. I have yet to encounter the person for whom articulations are problematic because the air is too fast, too soon and too immediate. Perhaps that's not possible.

Considering that last thought, perhaps it is a good idea to go to the extreme of putting the air in front of the tongue. I realize it's a strange concept, but for the sake of practice it is quite revealing. Try the following... Put your horn to your face and set your embouchure for a middle B flat. Take a deep breath and start the note with only your air. Once the note has spoken articulate the note with your tongue. Do it again. Only this time, try to make the articulation happen as close as possible to the air start. Continue moving in this direction until the air and the tongue are in perfect alignment. Hopefully, this method will help put an end to the air being too far behind the release of the tongue. I'd much rather err on the side of the air being too early than on the side of it being too late. Whenever I start having problems with getting immediate response, I remind myself of the articulated air start. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but you get the idea!