Tonguing/articulation issue on hole 2 and 1

Hey, so I’m practicing basic articulation by beginning notes with the syllable TA, which is easy enough, except for some reason I find that tonguing on hole 2 and sometimes hole 1 triggers the beginning of a bend. I can’t get rapid tongue articulation of successive notes on hole 2 for example. I know hole 2 is notoriously difficult for beginners, but I can do it just fine without tonguing, but the moment I need to use tonguing for articulation, it starts to trigger a bit of a bend/dip in the note.

Any suggestions?


Well, through trial and error I may have found the solution to my issue. I’ve found that the syllable TA that my book recommends is fine for blow notes, but on draws (most notably the 2 hole draw which requires a bit of a lower jaw position and open throat) the TA syllable actually forces me to close my jaw a bit in order to articulate the ta. The higher jaw position needed for me to articulate TA interferes with the lower jaw/open throat position I use to get a clean 2 hole draw.

The conclusion I’ve come to: I tried Ka for draws, which unlike Ta is articulated more in the back of the throat and allows me to keep that lower jaw position needed for the 2 hole draw and still articulate the notes.

I’m not sure though. I’ll keep working on it. It would be interesting to read if any of you have come to similar conclusions.


Here’s a link to a short video of Felipe Jers talking about the exact issue that I’m having and still working on.

Unfortunately he doesn’t mention how to fix it in that video :sweat_smile:

Hi @Fortheo

Unfortunately I probably cannot help you much, but I will try.

To start with – and perhaps this is just a problem for me – but I cannot do KA articulations nearly as rapidly as I can do TA articulations. It seems to me that the KA articulation involves movement of more tongue tissue than does the TA articulation, where only the tip and perhaps a little bit of tongue tissue behind the tip needs to be moved – so less mass is moving, and this means less effort to do it.

Perhaps also you are overdoing it with the open jaw position. This can make it difficult to get the tip of the tongue into the correct position for TA and then complete the tongue movement from the start (the “T”) to the end position (the “A”) without accidentally bending the tone. To test this, try doing your -2 articulation (with TA) but having your jaw somewhat less open than you currently do. If this still does not work, then try closing the jaw even a tiny bit more. We are talking here about very minimal differences in the jaw position.

Beyond that you should take care so that you are not drawing too strongly and that only the tip area of the tongue is moving away from your upper gum-tooth margin, and that your entire tongue is not moving.

I hope that this helps and is sort of understandable (though I can completely understand that it might not be so clear what I mean).

Let us know how you are progressing,
– Slim :sunglasses:


Thanks slim. I’ve found that the best way for me to tongue on the 2 hole draw thus far is to first just play a basic 2 hole draw without tongue, make sure I get it clean and in tune, and then keep that shape at all costs while tonguing. If I try to tongue TA the way I would if I were to actually speak it, this does indeed mess up my jaw position and mess up my intonation, but the solution seems to be to keep my jaw position and instead just move the tip of my tongue a bit and articulate a tiny bit further back almost more like a Da or NA. I find the articulation of the note comes out with an attack close enough to what Ta provides.

For now, I’m just going to accept this as part of my style I guess. I think tonguing and articulation must be something that many players use differently, due to various shapes of our mouth cavities and tongues.


Exactly!! Do not move the jaw, only the tip of the tongue. And it sounds like you had the tip too far forward. Now that you have the tip a bit more back, like for the Da sound, I think you have it. :point_left: :+1:

– Slim :sunglasses:


I remember somewhere on this forum mentioning to @Luke that I had a defective 2 draw on my Lee Oskar in A. He told me it was likely the harp.

He was right!

Subtlety and finesse are the two words that come to mind when I finally “fixed” my harp :joy:

I’ve never really done Ka’s or Ta’s, rather just played same note on keyboard, till I could get it right.

I too would go into a bend instead of a strong sounding note on the 2 draw.

Obviously, on a standard tuned diatonic harp, the setup generally has the 3 blow as same note, so that’s an out, but as @Luke also said, the draw on that not has a different and more bluesy quality to it.

As @Slim says, there are very subtle changes in mouth position which can make a difference, and not only on the 2 draw or 1 draw. I think each harp can be a little different and I find myself adjusting to each subtly as I play it.

Sounds like you are getting it though @Fortheo, congrats for that :tada: :rocket:

Harp on!