Clarity for a wind instrument is basically how we enunciate our 'speech'. We can use all sorts of consonant sounds to add a 'front' to our notes and clarify the onset of our sound. Articulation gets tricky to talk about since everyone has a different way of pronouncing words (usually based on physiology and native language), and everyone's perception of what they actually do is ambiguous. Some people swear that they use a certain "ta" sound for example, but in fact what is going on in their mouth may be far different. Here is how I approach it.
In order to clarify your articulation, you'll have to refine some dynamic physical factors of sound production (click here to be re-directed to more info on what that means). First thing's first: You need to develop a way of playing where the shape of the oral cavity is consistent and variability is minimized- the best way to do that is through training your stability. If you haven't visited my page on stability, do that now! There is no better way to set up a great foundation to improve articulation!
Here is a video where I talk about (and demonstrate) articulation for wind instrumentalists.
Articulation Exercise #1
(click icon to download)
Here is an exercise I do specifically to work the low register.
Legato Clarity/Slide Accuracy (Specifically for Trombones)
Though all brass players need to develop a smooth and connected legato, trombonists specifically have to develop coordination with the slide. Since the notes are connected, there is no room 'in between' for impurities of sound. Additionally, Western music is built on half steps and whole steps, which require variable distances of travel for the slide. In this video I describe how I develop a smooth and coordinated legato slide technique.
Legato- Slide Accuracy
(click icon to download)
Brass players need to master multiple tonguing if they are to master repertoire that requires the highest levels of velocity. Though the maximum speed to which players can articulate with a single tonguing method may vary greatly, at some point a player will have to develop a decent double and triple tonguing method.
For me, it was later in my career as I had a really fast single tongue. What I thought was a strength was actually a deterrent as it kept me from feeling the need to develop multiple tonguing until it really became a problem for me. In this video, I start 'from the beginning', and I will post videos every so often to show the progress. 15 minutes a day is all you need.
Here is the first video
Here is the second video- this is about 4 months after the first video. I did the exercise roughly 4-5 times a week for 4 months (about 15 min. each time). Now I am ready for a more ambitious challenge, so here I demonstrate a 'next level' exercise.
My most recent video on an exercise I specifically use for double tonguing. This exercise is awesome!