Thanks for this topic, Terry! About 10 years ago, I broke my wrist in a freak accident - had to have major hand surgery and was in a cast for 6 months. I was lucky and had a great surgeon (head of orthopedic hand surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital here in NYC). He restored my hand/wrist beautifully. After not playing for 6 months, I slowly began to play again - after this hiatus, I didn't notice problems with my chops - embouchure-wise; played lots of long tones, etc. The main change I found was that my tonguing seemed to have slowed down a bit, and I resumed doing single tongue exercises, shown to me by the first clarinet in the Vienna Symphony - Alfred Rose. I continue to do these daily to this day - just concentrating on one note a day - in every octave, playing single short tones, then double, then triple, 4, 5, 6 notes to a beat (at around 60 on the metronome). This always helps my single tonguing.
That being said, I have noticed some slowing of my single tonguing as I get older. I incorporate double tonguing much more than I used to - mainly making sure that it does not 'sound' like double tonguing, but like a very fast single. I've written in the past about my learning this technique from Milan Turkovic when I worked in an orchestra for 3 years in Switzerland in the mid-70's. (I had a fast single tongue, but playing 2nd bassoon for 'Cosi Fan Tutti,' there was a sizable triplet passage at one point, and I HAD to learn double tonguing to get it up to speed, which the conductor demanded!)
Here's what I wrote in a past article here:
"Confession time - when I was a senior in high school, during a private lesson with the band director, he asked me where I placed my tongue on the reed. To which, I responded, what are you talking about - I don't place my tongue on the reed! It turns out that I had spent 4 years 'ka'ing or 'guh' ing the notes and had never used my tongue. Duh - at any rate, we began to remedy this situation, and I slowly learned to use the tongue on the vicinity of the tip (as described above).
The good news is that a few years later when I was studying with Milan Turkovic, my earlier guttural use came to great use when he taught me double tonguing - Milan had me spend one month, just ka-ing (or guh-ing, or kee-ing, whatever works for you) - I spent 15 minutes each day just playing scales slowly using this. After a month of this, I added the tongue - tuh-ka, tuh-ka, (or again, da-guh or tee-kee) and practiced this way for a month. The 3rd month he had me reverse this - ka-tuh, ka-tuh (guh-da or kee-tee). Again, I did not do this for more than 15 minutes a day - making sure the double-tonguing sounded exactly like single tongue. (If not, I would slow the practice down until it did resemble the single.) After 3 months of this, I had no problems with double-tonguing.
Although initially learning to 'tongue' the wrong way, this mistake was a great help later on. Just sayin'....!"
As I get older, this method is increasingly effective - but I continue to do the single tonguing exercises daily - the most important concept for me in tonguing (or for that matter, any difficult passages) is EASY DOES IT. Relaxation is the key. Hope this helps. Jim
James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe