Am I ready for tongue-blocking?

I’m asking this question in the hope that Luke will answer, but I also welcome responses from anyone and everyone.

I’m still working on Module 3 in Beginner to Boss, so I haven’t gotten to the tongue-blocking section yet. However, out of curiosity, I watched a video about it and started messing around with it, and I feel like I’ve got the basics of it. I see it as having a couple of advantages for me:

It’s way easier to conserve and control my air on blow notes. I was struggling with that with the pucker technique – I’d get to places where I felt like I had to just let it all out, but wouldn’t because I knew that would screw up that note, I had more I needed to play, etc.

I produce much cleaner notes with it. I’ve recorded myself on the iPhone both ways and there’s no doubt whatsoever that the tongue-blocking sounds better.

Is it okay for me to continue with this, or should I stick it out with the pucker until I actually reach the tongue-blocking module?


Sounds like you may have been born to be a tongue-blocker! There are plenty of KILLER players who only always tongue block. You can totally do everything tongue-blocking.

If you happen to love Chicago Blues players like Little Walter or newer players in his style, you’ll want to be tongue blocking anyway.

You don’t have to do the course in order. You could jump ahead to the tongue blocking module so that you can really get clear on the technique and practice it, and then go back and work on the songs.

Rock on,


Thanks much, Luke.

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Hey DitchParrot,
I learned to play with the tongue-block and still use it some. I practiced hard on the “pucker” (is that really what is called?) to get different effects and deeper bends. I use both methods interchangeably now and you’ll be happy when you reach that point. Have fun.


Much obliged, Trapper. I think that’s the route I’ll take, too. I’ll focus primarily on the pucker until I get to the tongue-blocking module.


Hey @Trapper - to answer your question, yes, sadly “pucker” is what most people call it. However, I think we should make an effort to get people to start calling it “lip blocking” instead of “pucker” since we actually are blocking the adjacent holes with our bottom lick, and pucker tends to conjure up the wrong image of giving grandmother a peck on the cheek which is impossible to do while maintaining a good deep relaxed mouth position.

So, I like to call it “Lip blocking” vs “Tongue blocking” or just “lipping” and “tonguing” for short.

Ok, I’ll get off of my soap box now. :wink:



I watched an interview with Kim Wilson yesterday and he referred to it as “lipping.” That’s good enough for me and it’s what I’m going with from now on.


Well fellas, I’m glad we got that squared away. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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