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How to Play Slurs

A slur is a curved line that is written above or below a group of notes. Slurs indicate that we should connect the notes without any separation. Scroll down for sample practice exercises from lesson 5 of the Time Expressions book.

Example of slur markings in music.


Wind and brass players should tongue at the beginning of the slur and keep the air moving through the rest of the slurred notes. In the example above, you should tongue the first note in the first measure, and tongue the second note of the second measure. String players should play the slurred notes on one stroke of the bow.

All of the exercises on slurs use the same patterns of three or five pitches. The pitches are repeated in each exercise to create an easy pattern that allows you to focus on the articulations. Since slurred notes must have different pitches, this lesson does not include any exercises on one staff line. The examples all begin on the pitch middle C in the treble clef. To get the slur exercises written for your specific instrument, you can purchase the Time Expressions book. You can also get a free sample of Lesson 1 of the book.

When two notes with the same pitch are connected by a curved line, it is called a tie. See the Time Lines method by Kyle Coughlin for examples of ties and how to play them.

Part 2 - Articulations
Lesson 5 - Slurs
Lesson 6 - Staccatos
Lesson 7 - Accents
Lesson 8 - Putting It Together - Articulations and Dynamics

Exercises to practice playing slurs in music.