10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything!

ClarinetMike uses these tips, especially when preparing New Music. ClarinetMike gave 2 World Premieres at the University of Michigan (above) on tour in February 2020 right before the pandemic.

Here are 10 general practice tips for preparing the All-State etudes, solos, or any music.

10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Go Slow. Load correct information only! Go slow and learn the rhythm and notes correctly the first time and every time. Go Slow!
  2. MORE Go Slow. Generally, begin work on an etude by counting in eighth notes, i.e. twice as slow or three times as slow if in 6/8. This means one eighth note gets one beat, one quarter note gets two counts, dotted quarter note gets three counts, etc.
  3. DYNAMICS! DYNAMICS!! DYNAMICS!!! every step of the way! Learn dynamics as you learn the rhythm and notes. Adding dynamics later does NOT work very well. “If you learn it at mezzo nothing, you’ll perform it at mezzo nothing!”
  4. Learn Ornaments From the Start. Do not put off the ornaments until later! In preparing the etude, YOU MUST learn it the right way slowly from the beginning. DO NOT skip grace notes, trills, turns, etc. and think you will add those at a later time. BAD IDEA! Your “muscle memory” will be messed up and you’ll be relearning those spots forever.
  5. Performance Tone. Learn etude with a “performance tone,” not a “practice tone.” In fact, never use a “practice tone.” [This idea comes from the Note Grouping video below.] A bad tone always sounds…BAD!
  6. Tonguing. Work on tonguing every day.
  7. Sight-Reading. Do some sight-reading (and work on other music) every day to keep your playing fresh.
  8. Metronome. The metronome is a valuable tool and should be used a lot. Do not use it 100% of the time when you practice an all-state etude, solo, etc. Do not get “Metronome Addiction.” This is where a person can play an etude or solo well only with a metronome. Common Sense is also a valuable tool!
  9. Practice Routine. Work on basics and scales every day as you work on the all-state etudes, solos, etc. Use an organized Practice Routine.
  10. Note Grouping. The Note Grouping concept works great for fast passages. It is described in a Note Grouping video featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Nathan Cole here.

ClarinetMike says, “Use these tips!”

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Teaching Tip: “It’s All About The Music!”

ClarinetMike in Italy performing a World Premiere at the Chiesa di Santa Margherita (1670) in Vipiteno, Italy at Orfeo Music Festival 2019.

Last week I started my busy fall schedule of clarinet lessons and master classes. I often start off a first master class or lesson by saying,

“It’s all about the music.”

I then tell the students that,

“My job is to help you play music better.”

I then go on to tell them that the main way I help my students play music better is to

“Work on improving basics and knowledge of musical style.”1

I do this because students often don’t connect things like posture, embouchure, articulation exercises, long tones, scales, phrasing, etc. to actually performing music. This is especially true if they’ve only been rote-taught music. I have found that these few simple comments help the student understand the value of basics and musical style and how they connect to the music they want to perform.

ClarinetMike says, “It’s all about the music!”

1. Clarinetist Kelly Burke said something similar in a terrific master class article. (The Clarinet, March 2009, p 40).

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Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Schools are starting here in Texas and for many music students that means back to private lessons. The tips below will help a student get the most out of private lessons.

Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Practice. Treat private lessons like an academic class. Carefully and completely do your homework = lots of great daily practice!
  2. Warm Up and Be Early. Warm up thoroughly before the lesson. Show up 5 minutes early to the lesson with instrument “ready to go” and wait patiently outside your teacher’s studio door. Make sure you have a pencil!
  3. No Beeps, Buzzers or Bells. Turn off cell phone and other gizmos during the lesson and while waiting patiently outside the studio door.
  4. Listen! Be eager to listen and learn from the teacher. The point of lessons is to learn how to play the instrument better. Lessons are not meant for you to play the entire time. If the teacher makes no comments, you didn’t get a lesson!
  5. Courtesy! Always treat the teacher with respect and courtesy, even if you don’t feel well or the teacher is cranky – you are taking lessons to get better on the instrument, NOT to hang out with a “buddy.”
  6. Write It Down. After the lesson, write down what was discussed, assignments, etc. Keeping a notebook for lessons is a great idea.
  7. Lock It In. Make a point to practice at least a little soon after the lesson. This will help “lock in” what was taught.
  8. Practice Wisely. Make sure you practice all that the teacher assigns in the way that the teacher has directed you.
  9. Do Extra. Show initiative and do extra work in your lesson preparation. For example, if your teacher assigns you to listen to a recording of a work, listen to 3 recordings.
  10. Practice Log. Keep a practice log of all practicing. Putting it on your wall or near your work desk will remind you to practice.

ClarinetMike says, “Remember that your private lesson teacher may be writing a letter of recommendation for you in the future. So please follow these tips.”

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15 All-State Clarinet Resources: Rose 32, 40, Caprices, and More!

French Clarinet Teacher and Performer Cyrille Rose in 1880

On Monday, July 12, the Texas TMEA All-State audition etudes were revealed. As in years past, Rose Etudes will be used for soprano and low clarinets (and Texas ATSSB soprano clarinets). Other states in the USA also use Rose Etudes for their high school all-state clarinet auditions. And, of course, the study of Rose Etudes is standard for practically all clarinet students at colleges, universities, and conservatories in the USA and beyond.

Some of the best places to look for ideas on how to perform an etude, solo, or any work of music are other editions of the same music. Therefore, below is a annotated list of various editions of the Rose 32 Etudes, 40 Studies, and Caprices. I have also included a few versions of the Ferling Studies as they are the basis for most of the Rose 32 Etudes plus versions of the Rode/Rose Caprices. I will use these resources as I prepare to teach lessons and give clarinet clinics on the all-state music.

Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments – he “clarinetized” them. FYI, like many pros, my own clarinet lineage goes back to Cyrille Rose.

15 All-State Clarinet Resources: Rose 32, 40, Caprices, and More!
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

  1. Daniel Bonade, editor. Sixteen Phrasing Studies for Clarinet.  Conn-Selmer, Inc., 1952. Bonade was a legendary clarinet player and teacher who taught Mitchell Lurie, Robert Marcellus, and other leading clarinetists of his day: he also taught David Hite, the editor of the Texas all-state etudes. These studies offer phrasing and other help on the slow etudes from the Rose 32 Etudes. Please note that Bonade renumbered the etudes. This edition was available for free for years, but now seems to be safely available only in another book, The Complete Daniel Bonade, compiled and edited by Larry Guy.
  2. Philippe Cuper, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. Paris, France: International Music Diffusion, 2011, with CD.
  3. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Studies for Oboe, Op. 31. Braunschweig: J.P. Spehr, n.d. (1837) Reprinted New York: E. F. Kalmus, n.d. (1933-1970). Catalog K.04121 (Citation from IMSLP.org) Early edition of Ferling studies. (These studies are the basis for the Rose 32 Etudes.) Available for free HERE.
  4. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Famous Studies for Oboe or Saxophone, Revised by Albert J. Andraud. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1958. This book is often used for the Saxophone and Oboe/English Horn all-state audition music.  Available at local music stores.
  5. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Studies by Ferling for All Saxophones, Edited by Marcel Mule. Paris, France: Leduc, 1946. The Mule edition of the Ferling Studies is frequently used by saxophone students at colleges, universities, and conservatories in the USA. I often consult it myself when teaching the saxophone (and clarinet!).
  6. Ben Andrew Garcia and Luuk De Vries, editors. The Complete Clarinet: C. Rose Revisited – 118 Etudes for Clarinet. Fort Worth, TX: Complete Works Music Publisher, 2014. Features every etude that Rose wrote for the clarinet, including the lesser-known 26 Etudes.
  7. Larry Guy, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. Stony Point, NY: Rivernote Press, 2017. NOTE: there is a NEW edition just now shipping HERE! Plus some additional Bonus Commentary HERE!!
  8. David Hite, editor. Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School for Clarinet. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1986. This is the book used for this year’s Texas TMEA Soprano and Low Clarinet all-state music. Students and teachers should purchase the book and not use ONLY copies. Also, in the back of the book is an important Glossary – a list of terms briefly explaining Hite’s numerous [and sometimes overdone!] performance suggestions. Available at local music stores.
  9. Jean & David Hite, revisors and editors. Cyrille Rose FORTY STUDIES for Clarinet. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 2000. A reworked edition of the Rose 40 Studies.
  10. Henry Larsen. The 32 Rose Studies: An Analysis and Study Guide. Avon, CT: Larsen Audiographics, 1998. Each of the 32 etudes is accompanied by extensive notes and suggestions. UPDATE: Reportedly out of print, try Interlibrary loan plus search WorldCat HERE.
  11. Pierre Rode. 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Opus 22. Leipzig: CF Peters Music Office, [1819]. The TMEA All-State Rose Caprice #9 is #11, p. 22 of these. This first edition is available for free HERE. Another early edition edited by Jakob Dont from around the time of Rose is also available for free HERE.
  12. Pierre Rode. Twenty Studies for Clarinet, Arranged by Harry BettoneyNew York: Carl Fischer, 1968. This is a different arrangement of the Rode Violin Caprices by clarinetist Harry Bettoney, i.e. not by Cyrille Rose! Bettoney chose 20 of the Rode Caprices and arranged them for clarinet. The TMEA All-State Rose Caprice #9 is #15 of these. FYI, I worked on these years ago as a university clarinet student. My pencil markings are still clear as well as my teacher’s!
  13. Cyrille Rose. 20 Grand Studies Selected from the Caprices by Rode, Edited by Stanley Drucker. New York: International Music Company, 1962. The TMEA All-State Rose Caprice #9 is #11 of these.
  14. Cyrille Rose. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 1913. 40 Studies for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 1910. These venerable editions are what many of us in the USA used in school. They are notorious for mistakes, so be careful.
  15. Melvin Warner, editor. 32 Rose Etudes for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 2002/2009, with CD.

ClarinetMike says, “It is absolutely critical that those who judge these intense competitions carefully study the all-state etudes before the competitionsWe owe this to the students. ‘Winging It’ can be as bad as cheating.”

Note: The above picture is in Public Domain and can be found HERE. [Rose looks a lot like the late Stanley Hasty, renowned Eastman clarinet professor!]

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TMEA All-State Available! PLUS “5 All-State Practice Tips To Get You Started!”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Hey! Today at noon, the official the Texas TMEA All-State Band 2021-2022 audition materials were posted online. Below, I have posted screenshots of the audition materials for soprano and low clarinets from the official TMEA website. I’ve already started to break down the audition music for clinicsprivate lessons, and such. Here’s 5 all-state practice tips to help you get started:

 5 All-State Practice Tips To Get You Started!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1. Practice Routine. Prepare the all-state materials as part of a balanced practice routine that includes consistent and systematic work on basics, scales, and sight-reading. Also, be sure to work on other music besides all-state. My practice routine is available here.

2. Look! Look over the etude before just diving in. A little analysis will be very helpful.

3. Go Slow. Start by working on the first few measures or first line. Go slowly and learn the rhythm, notes, and dynamics correctly the first time and every time. Load correct information as much as possible.

4. Tone! Make sure you always practice with excellent posture and great tone-this means you must take the time to have good reeds!

5. Take Lessons. Take private lessons with a teacher who teaches solid basics and expressive musical style.

ClarinetMike says, “Have fun and enjoy the process! Remember, it’s all about MUSIC!”

Screenshots of the all-state etudes from the official TMEA website:

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ClarinetFest 2021 Virtual! Free Registration and Open to All!

ClarinetMike says, “Check it out!”

Intro: Due to COVID-19, the International Clarinet Association made the difficult decision to move ClarinetFest® 2021 to a virtual format. Each conference event will have a unique online air time over four weekends in July (Fridays through Sundays) but will also remain available to registered attendees for one month. Conference Dates are Friday afternoons through Sunday afternoons: July 9 – 11, July 16 – 18, July 23 – 25, and July 30 – 31. The Grand Finale will be on Saturday Evening, July 31.

FREE Registration: This event is free and open to all clarinetists [and everyone!], including those who are not members of the International Clarinet Association. Click Here.

ClarinetFest 2021 Schedule: All Times Listed are in Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-4. Note that each online event will remain available to registered attendees for one month. Click Here.

Watch Online: Click Here. (This link also has additional program information.)

Guidebook App: Download the ClarinetFest 2021 Virtual Guidebook App on your mobile phone to get program information, video and Zoom session links, performer bios, and more. Click Here

More Info: Click Here.

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ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide and Clinic Notes!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Here in Texas, the TMEA high school all-state band audition music will be released in 4 weeks on Monday, July 12, 2021 at noon on the TMEA.org website. Plus, ATSSB students are already busily working away on their audition music and scales. Below is a five-step guide based on my personal clinic notes from my ClarinetMike Clarinet Clinics. Watch this blog for more All-State help from ClarinetMike!

ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide and Clinic Notes!
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

Step 1: Preliminary Concerns

  1. Get quality equipment. FYI, my Bb soprano clarinet set up: Buffet R13 clarinet [1974], Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece, Vandoren V12 3.5 or D’Addario Reserve Classic 3.5 reeds, BG Super Revelation ligature, metronome/tuner, GEM swab, ReedGeek, etc.
  2. Find a good private teacher who teaches solid basics and expressive musical style. Stay away from Rote-Only Teachers and YouTube Videos. [Don’t just copy a recording. Learn to count! Rote-only playing will NOT get you past a good university audition.]

Step 2: Core Concepts

  1. It’s All About the Music. So, work on ARTC Basics & ARTSY Musical Style (Phrasing, especially Romantic Era Style)
  2. Genuine Excellence = Talent × Practice Time × Practice Quality.
  3. Loading & Unloading. Slow Careful Practice = Speedy, Confident Performing. The Tortoise and the Hare – Be a Turtle! (See Frank R. Wilson)
  4. Focus on What You Control: Preparation & Effort. Success, John Wooden, etc.
  5. Power of Habit. Work on Basics (ARTC) & Scales, along with the All-State Music in a Good Practice Routine.

Step 3: General Preparation Tips

  1. Practice and perform only on good reeds.
  2. Use a metronome and tuner.
  3. Record yourself – check out phone apps!
  4. BOLD Dynamics.
  5. Sound Projection
  6. Plan and mark breathing carefully.
  7. Understand all terms, notation, ornaments, etc. that are on the etudes.
  8. Create a cheat sheet. Write each etude’s scales and arpeggios at top of music.
  9. Clap and sing the music.
  10. Check out additional Practice Tips on the ClarinetMike Blog.

Step 4: Scale Preparation Tips

  1. Thoroughly prepare your scales as if they were etudes or solos. Don’t just run through them quickly and thoughtlessly. Careful preparation of scales with good fundamentals (relaxation, tone, counting, etc.) will pay big rewards not only on the scales themselves, but also on the all-state etudes and all the music you play since they are built on scales.
  2. Work on scales in an organized practice routine that includes basics, sight-reading, etc.
  3. Practice a scale all slurred first, then work on the tongued version. Slurring will allow you to hear how smooth (or not) the connections between notes are.
  4. Work on tonguing every day – check out my Basic Tonguing Exercise (BTE).
  5. Practice the chromatic scale every day. Many consider it to be the most important scale. I suggest starting your scale practice with it.
  6. Use a metronome. BUT, don’t use it 100% of the time – DO NOT get addicted to the metronome. Common Sense is your most important tool in preparation of scales and all-state music (and everything!).
  7. Work on cleanly going over The Break! This is often neglected and results in a lack of smoothness in the playing. The finger combinations for going over The Break are tricky and must be addressed every day by clarinetists at every level. Also, DO NOT use throat tone resonance fingers (or keeping right hand down, etc.) when doing scales. This will slow down and dirty the technique.
  8. Make sure you have good tone, relaxed body position, good hand position and finger movement, etc. as you learn the scales. Otherwise, you will be memorizing flaws that will be much harder to fix later.

Step 5: Etude Preparation Template

  1. Composer and Style
  2. Overview
  3. Tempo and Key
  4. Sections and Phrases
  5. Special Issues (repeated figure, etc.)
  6. Musical Issues
  7. Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.)
  8. Problem Passages
  9. Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet
  10. Breath Marks
  11. Other
  12. Suggested Listening

ClarinetMike says, “Hey! Book me for a clarinet clinic in person or virtual!”

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Application Deadline Extended to July 1 for NACWPI 2021 National Conference at Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, October 22-24!

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas USA

Received the following email from Ted Hoffman, Executive Secretary of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). Also below is updated conference application information.

“The due date for NACWPI 2021 National Conference performance and presentation proposals has been extended to July 1, 2021, 11:59 PM central time. If you’ve already submitted a proposal but would like to make revisions between now and the July 1 extended deadline, you may submit an updated proposal as before and also send an email to NACWPI@montevallo.edu to request that the earlier submission be deleted.”


TEXAS! As a NACWPI past president and former officer on the NACWPI National Board, I’m proud and excited to pass along the following announcement from the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI)!

NACWPI 2021 National Conference
October 22-24, 2021
Texas Woman’s University [TWU]
Denton, Texas USA

Call For Performance and Presentation Proposals
APPLICATION DEADLINE: June 1, 2021, 11:59PM (CDT) July 1, 2021, 11:59 PM central time

The NACWPI 2021 National Conference will be held October 22-24, 2021, on the campus of Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. The city of Denton is conveniently located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

At this time, NACWPI leadership anticipates that this event will be held [in-person] on the TWU campus. We will continue to monitor local, state, and national health and safety regulations and recommendations.

NACWPI 2021 Information click here

Performance Proposal Submission Directions: click here

Presentation Proposal Submission Directions: click here

ClarinetMike says, “Apply to perform and present at NACWPI 2021! I suggest using this hashtag on social media: #NACWPI2021.”

NOTE: The excellent picture above of TWU by Michael Barera has been somewhat cropped by Michael Dean, the author of this blog post. The picture, license info, etc. are available here.

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10 Things To Do On Summer Break!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” in his A+ Music Studio in Hurst, Texas.

10 Things To Do On Summer Break!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Lessons. Take private lessons with a good teacher. A good teacher will spend time improving your basics and teaching you how to practice in addition to working on music. [I’m currently taking new students, fyi.]
  2. Practice. Work hard to practice in a good routine.
  3. Basics. Work on improvements and adjustments in your technique. Hey Students! How about working on what your teacher emphasized last semester – posture, embouchure, tonguing, etc.?
  4. Improve. Work on Scales, Etudes, Sight Reading, and Transposition.
  5. Study. Study a work or composer you don’t know.
  6. Clean. Organize your office and/or practice space! Those stacks of music (and pizza boxes!) need to be dealt with. AND clean out your case!
  7. CALL! Contact an older musician – especially a retired private teacher or band director. Pick up the phone and see how they are doing. Stop reading this and call them right now – yes, right now!
  8. Movies. Watch old movies (check out Turner Classic Movies) and listen to the music. Learn about the composers. Some of them have written solo music for your instrument!
  9. Jazz. Work on Jazz or a style that is new to you. If you don’t know anything about Jazz, Now’s The Time to learn.
  10. Live. Get outside in the sunshine (as appropriate during the pandemic in your area). Attend a church or similar meeting, get some exercise, read a good book, learn a foreign language, become a volunteer in an organization that helps people, etc.

ClarinetMike says, “Have a Great Summer!”

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7 Time Management Tips

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

7  Time Management Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1. Get a Plan! Make some kind of schedule or time plan and DO IT! I have found that having a plan and following it (even if it’s a so-so plan) results in great success. Don’t wait until you have the “perfect plan” to start.

2. Goal! Relate your Plan to a goal or two, not just putting out fires. One or two things actually accomplished is better than ten things not done.

3. Hey, How’s It Going? Handle texts, email, Facebook messages, regular mail, etc. only once. Read/act on it now or later (not both!). However, ALL messages should be answered within 24 hours.

4. Thanks So Much, but I Have To Go…. Learn how to quickly (and courteously) get rid of pesky unexpected visitors when they call or drop by your office/practice room to just “chat.”

5. Help! Recruit help. You do not have to do every chore yourself. You could give the pesky unexpected visitor a job to do for you!

6. STOP! Television and the internet are your enemies, at least as far as time is concerned. Now, a new enemy is here: the Smartphone. FYI, you don’t have to check Twitter every few minutes to see who your baseball team may draft.

7. Just Do It! Be disciplined. The more you are disciplined, the more disciplined you will
become. Work hard to develop better time habits.

BONUS: Mom is Right! Exercise/Eat Right/Sleep 7-8 hours every night. “Every hour of sleep before midnight counts as two” is a good old rule to follow.

ClarinetMike says, “Calm down, read through these tips again, put your phone away, and then plan the rest of your day and week.”

The above is a modified version of information from my published article, “Basic Time Management” © by The National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors NACWPI Journal, Vol. XLVI, No. 3, spring 1998. Thanks to NACWPI for kind permission.

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