Articulation in music is the art of starting a note so that it has the clarity and intensity to express the intended music. Technically speaking, with a string instrument it is the bowing or plucking of the string, and with a wind instrument the combined use of the tongue and air. In order to develop proficiency in the use of articulation it is best for the player of a brass instrument to start with a simple air stream and to have the tongue gently touch the back of the teeth without breaking the flow of air. This feeling of flow is very important. A great many brass musicians only play into the instrument without playing through it, resulting in a less-than-optimal tone production. This can also lead to increased tension in the tongue without proper support from the airflow, which will slow down and "harden" the tongue, severely limiting the ability to express musical ideas.

Let's try starting a note without the use of the tongue, just letting the air flow over the lips, exiting them into vibrating with a buzz. When the note is sounding we can develop a feeling for our tongue by moving it around the mouth and listening to the resulting change in sound quality. The next step is to let our tongue move to the different positions it takes in producing the vowels, a - e - i - o - u. After practicing this a few times, we relax the tongue and articulate a gentle "da", watching the movement of the tongue with our inner eye and listening to the resulting sound. We should practice this in different tempos and dynamics. We can also use a metronome to add another dimension of control to the exercise. The next step is to do the same with other syllables such as "ta", "do", "te" "di", "ti" in order to hear the difference in sound. In cantabile playing we will generally want to use the "da" position of the tongue; however, it is very important to develop the use of other syllables. Playing loud or soft in different registers will require a slightly different tongue position, and in contemporary music we often have to produce certain effects which make it necessary to use the tongue in peculiar ways.

A helpful practice technique is to play every phrase slurred first before adding the articulation. This is very beneficial because it allows us to practice letting the air flow through the phrase without the complex movements of the tongue disturbing the air. By doing this we also learn to differentiate which muscles are used for tone production and slurring, and which for tonguing. Using the tongue to slur is a very common mistake that not only has a detrimental effect on the sound quality, but also limits our flexibility. In conclusion, good articulation is a very crucial aspect of playing any musical instrument, and its development is a process that take years of practice.