Triple and Double Tongue Foundations

It takes a lot to get under my skin. So it’s rare that I would share a pet peeve on my blog.

But this old saying gets me riled up because it throws serious shade at educators. You know the one, “Those who can – DO … and those who can’t – TEACH.”

This well known adage discredits the awareness, patience and communication skills required to be an effective educator.

And since we are throwing shade, let’s be real. In my experience some of the best performers are some of the worst teachers. This is not always the case, but it happens. It is a rare gift to be BOTH an effective teacher and a great performer.

In my own experience I’ve found that a lack of pedagogical skills is often not the fault of the performer. It might be that a performer learned the skill but did not learn how to effectively communicate the steps required to teach the skill.

 This is the flip side of the adage “Those Who Can- Do and Those Who Can’t- Teach..” Those Who Can But Can’t Teach.

In my own career, I almost fell into this flip side trap. At the time I could – DO… but couldn’t – TEACH. I lacked the ability to articulate the steps required for skills I learned at an early age.

I came to this realization in college when I was asked to double tongue in the Weber Concerto. I could and did without a thought. I switched from single to double tongue without a care. Lucky me, I thought!

I needed a reminder of my family’s secret recipes for success, like this one for Triple Tongue

But when my professor asked me how I would teach double tongue, I was lost. For me this was like teaching someone how to walk. It’s just one foot in front of the other, right?  I had learned the skill so early it was second nature to me. I just move my tongue and blow air- couldn’t everyone?!?


I was in danger of falling into the category of Those Who Can but Can’t Teach! I quickly realized that even though I had the skills – I needed to restart, learn the skill from scratch, and gain the pedagogical communication.

So I spent the next month of my college career re-learning how to Double Tongue, analyzing my techniques, and gaining much needed verbalization skills.

Fast forward to present day. A few weeks ago I was in a sit down Skype Session with my dad, my first music teacher. We were discussing my last blog which focused on the Foundations of Articulation.

In the middle of our Skype Chat Mike reminded me how he had taught me to Triple Tongue and Double Tongue within my first year of playing. My childhood bassoon memories came flooding back to me. I am so grateful for these magic moments.

Rather than let these pedagogical gems from my childhood slip away, I thought you guys might enjoy them and find them helpful, too. So I built them into a short five minute YouTube Video. I’m calling them our Secret Family Recipe to Triple Tongue Success!

                   And here’s to Mike one of the finest educators That Can and Does in his Own Way which is most often Behind the Scenes and not in the Limelight.

When we Skype I see him smile the most when talks about musicians growing and shining- and he (in his words) “got to help”.

He, like most great educators, is selfless and full of generosity. When most great educators hear the tired over-used old saying- they shrug their shoulders and go back to helping others grow.

In hindsight after writing all of this, I realize… how silly of me… you might already be familiar with some of Mike’s work and not even know it. He coached one of the trombones for the epic battle of Chewbacca vs Darth Vader on Jimmy Fallon Late Night TV.

But just in case you missed it, here it is. Too Good to reference and not link!

Wouldn’t it be cool to do a bassoon version of this?!? #Goals

     Might need to omit the splits done by Vader, unless the bassoon is held overhead. Look at me- I’m already planning the choreography! Let’s make this happen!

I’m so easily distracted from my rant by fun. Honestly negativity is not my strong suit. 🙂

                   As another school year begins, it’s a perfect moment to send a THANK YOU to all the Behind-the-Scenes-Teachers that help us GROW! Let’s offer them the love and respect THEY and ALL THEY BRING to the art of teaching deserves.

Happy Triple Tonguing, Everybody!


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