NACWPI National Conference 2017: The University of Montevallo

NACWPI Rolls On!  As a past president and former officer on the NACWPI National Board, I want to encourage you to apply to perform and present at the upcoming NACWPI National Conference 2017! The DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION has been extended to April 15, TAX DAY. Below the brief blurb on the conference are links on how to apply to perform or present as well as a link to the Richard Weerts Composition Contest.

ClarinetMike says, “By April 15, pay your taxes and apply to perform and/or present at NACWPI National Conference 2017!”

The NACWPI National Conference 2017 will be held October 6-8, 2017, on the historic campus of the University of Montevallo. Nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the quaint City of Montevallo is conveniently located in the heart of the American Southeast near Birmingham, AL, a dynamic city with a metropolitan population of more than one million residents.

NACWPI National Conference 2017 General Information: CLICK HERE.

NACWPI National Conference 2017 Clinic Proposals: CLICK HERE.

NACWPI National Conference 2017 Performance Proposals: CLICK HERE.

Richard Weerts Composition Contest (Due May 1, 2017): CLICK HERE.

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IMPROVE CLARINET ARTICULATION WITH THIS HACK! Check Out ClarinetMike’s Basic Tonguing Exercise a.k.a. “Betty”

ClarinetMike says, “Spend Quality Time With Your New Best Friend, Betty!”

One of the most important (and tricky) aspects of playing the clarinet is tonguing. Below is a repost of an articulation exercise I’ve found very helpful in my students and my own playing. When working on Betty, don’t forget to use the voicings from E-Tip #3: Eee’s from my E-Tips for E-Lips embouchure tips.

The Basic Tonguing Exercise – a.k.a. BTE  or “Betty.”

Scene: Cyrille, one of ClarinetMike’s fabulous students, is just starting a clarinet lesson.


ClarinetMike: “Great to see you today, Cyrille. Let’s work on your tonguing today.”

Cyrille: “My tonguing needs help! Sounds great ClarinetMike!”

ClarinetMike: “One of best exercises I know for working on tonguing is the Basic Tonguing Exercise – a.k.a. BTE or ‘Betty.’ It is designed to improve the basic tongue stroke on the reed – sort of like adjusting the ‘default setting’ on a computer program.”

Cyrille: “Will it teach me to double and triple tongue?”

ClarinetMike: “No, but it does prepare you for advanced articulation studies. Before you work on double and triple tonguing, you need to have a great basic single tongue. In fact, I like to think of teaching tonguing in three steps: 1. Basic (BTE – ‘Betty’) 2. Advanced Single Tonguing – staccato, legato and other shadings 3. Double and Triple Tonguing…”

Cyrille [interrupts]: “Tell me about Betty!”

ClarinetMike: “I like your enthusiasm Cyrille! BTE or ‘Betty’ is done by playing a scale with four tongued quarters on each note of the scale. (For example, on a C major scale it would be C, C, C, C, D, D, D, D, E, E, E, E, etc.) The idea is to experiment with the stroke and position of the tongue (i.e. less tongue, more tongue, etc. ) to discover how it feels when the sound of the articulation is just right. It is important to work on this exercise in all scales in all registers – not just the low register! Betty can also be done on a short passage from an etude, solo, or ensemble work.”

Cyrille: “Sounds easy! How often and how much do I need to work on it?”

ClarinetMike: “Work on it every day you practice at least 5 minutes or so along with other articulation studies/exercises. Even when you start working on staccato and double/triple tonguing, you should keep working on this exercise. Tonguing takes time to improve – so be patient and keep working.  Ok Cyrille, let’s try it….”


NOTE: Cyrille is a “pointy-headed” clarinet  reference to the great Cyrille Rose of Rose 32 Etudes fame. Rose was known to have had a sluggish tongue.

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HERE’S SOME HELP ON YOUR JOB SEARCH! ClarinetMike’s “LinkedIn, Lumpy, and Me”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

It is Spring Break time here in Texas and I know many of you are looking for a job (or a better one!).  Therefore, I am reposting the below. (FYI, I spruced up my own LinkedIn Profile with an updated bio and my 44 page Resume/Curriculum Vitae. Check it out!)

LinkedIn, Lumpy and Me

Scene: ClarinetMike is chatting with Lumpy, another private lesson teacher, between lessons outside a practice room in a large bandhall.

ClarinetMike: I recently set up my own LinkedIn page, why don’t you connect to me? [Click HERE and add me.]


ClarinetMike: It is a business-oriented social networking service. [See Wikipedia on it.]

Lumpy:  I don’t need more to do – I never even post on Facebook! Why should I care about LinkedIn?

ClarinetMike: Excellent question, Lumpy. LinkedIn is hot in the business world and there seems to be a lot of musicians and music organizations getting on it.  The key thing about LinkedIn is that it is focused entirely on job-related stuff. I’ve noticed that many music people who are not on Facebook have profiles on LinkedIn.

Lumpy: I know that Wally, the head band director here, is not on Facebook. Is he on LinkedIn?

ClarinetMike: Yes. I just connected with Wally on there yesterday.

Lumpy: He’s on there? Wow! What does LinkedIn offer? Will it help me get a new job?

ClarinetMike: Perceptive question, Lumpy! My brother-in-law, Ward, is a Human Resources director at a large company. He told me that in the business world,  “if you are looking for a job,  you need to have a profile on LinkedIn.”

Lumpy: So, a LinkedIn Profile is like an online resume for those looking for a job. Correct?

ClarinetMike: Yes, but there’s more. LinkedIn also has discipline-specific professional groups where people post and discuss various issues in a way similar to Facebook. However, it is all related to business – no pictures of June’s lovely new dress or Beav and Larry playing baseball, etc.

Lumpy: Sounds interesting. Tell me more….

ClarinetMike: I’m still new to it myself and learning about it. I also think that LinkedIn is evolving and changing much as Facebook did. I’ll send you a YouTube video that has more info and a 2017 video update:

YouTube Video: 

2017 Video Update:

Lumpy: Thanks! I’ll check out LinkedIn. I’ll also have to connect to our friend Eddie, the horn teacher. I’m sure he’s on there!


ClarinetMike says, “Get a LinkedIn profile and connect to me HERE.”

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5 MORE Steps to Great Clarinet Tone: The 5 E-Tips for E-Lips Clarinet Embouchure Tips!

ClarinetMike says, "Check out my E-Ti;ps for E-Lips."

ClarinetMike says, “Examine and Engage with the Exceedingly Excellent Embouchure Enhancing E-Tips for E-Lips.”

I recently posted my 5-C Clarinet Embouchure (CLICK HERE) having made a few small revisions to it that I put into my clinic handouts for some upcoming clarinet clinics. FYI, an Easy-To-Print-PDF of all my clarinet clinic handouts (including 5-C Embouchure and E-Tips for E-Lips) is available HERE.

Below are 5 embouchure tips that I strongly suggest using with the 5-C Embouchure. (These tips also have a few very small revisions.)  In addition to working GREAT with 5-C, I also think these tips will generally work well with pretty much any clarinet embouchure on any size of clarinet AND will also be very helpful on saxophone. Further, I think that these tips will help fix at least some of the problems in other clarinet and saxophone embouchures. Each tip below begins with the letter “E” and gives an important concept, thus “E-Tips.” The “E-Lips” refers to embouchure.

[NOTE: I give permission to all readers of this ClarinetMike Blog to print, copy and distribute these handouts as desired. However, please remember they are copyrighted and must not be changed or altered in any way. Printing double-sided works great, fyi.]

5 E-Tips for E-Lips Clarinet Embouchure Tips SHORT VERSION
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
BG France Performing Artist
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting * 682-888-7639 *

E-Tip #1Engage. “Keep Lower Teeth Engaged.”   Beneath the reed, keep the lower teeth right under the bottom lip – do not allow space between the lip and teeth.  Think “Reed, Lip, Teeth.”  You want to somewhat feel the reed through the lower lip with the bottom teeth. But, don’t push up too much. Think in terms of creating a good platform for the reed to vibrate upon. Keeping the lower teeth engaged allows for sensitive adjustments to the sound, as there is a close connection to the resonator (reed vibrating against the slot of the mouthpiece).

E-Tip #2: Edges. “Don’t Pinch the Edges of the Reed.” Be sure to keep the lower lip flat against the reed so as not to crimp the sides of the reed.  Once past the reed, the lips need to seal to keep air from leaking out. Remember, clarinet sound is produced by the vibration of the reed. The more the reed vibrates, the more sound is produced.

E-Tip #3: Eee’s. “Use ‘Eee’ Syllables.”  I’ve found it very helpful to voice[i] these syllables in the specified ranges when playing in different registers on the (Bb soprano) clarinet:

“Teu” low register (below Open G)  with a French pronunciation[ii] (see video clip below)
“Tee” Open G up to third space C in the staff
“Dee” C# in the staff and higher

Notice above, that each syllable has a progressively higher “Air Position” than the next. By “Air Position,” I am referring to how high the air goes through the mouth.  (I suggest trying this by whispering “Teu, Tee, and Dee” in succession. Notice that the air is higher on each one.) The basic idea is that the higher one plays on the clarinet, the higher the air should go through the mouth. I think it is easier to think “Air Position” than “Tongue Position.”

These voicings help not only with embouchure, but also help out greatly with tonguing. It was a big breakthrough for me to finally realize that embouchure and articulation are very closely related.  [There is a video clip of me pronouncing and explaining these syllables available on my website – Click HERE and watch “Embouchure: Tongue Position = Air Position.”]

Another important and useful syllable is “Hee.” It has a very high air position and works really great for me for voicing Super High G (fourth ledger line above the staff). However, it is not usable in the same way as the others because it is not good for tonguing. (In warm-ups, I’ll whisper “Hee” a few times to set the voicing and then play a Super High G with a “Dee” articulation.) “Hee” is also very useful pedagogically in explaining to a student about voicing and “Air Position.” (Have the student whisper “Teu” or “Tee” and then have them whisper “Hee.”)

E-Tip #4: Ex. “Say syllable ‘Ex’ – Lower Teeth Give, Top Teeth Receive.”  Don’t bite down hard on the mouthpiece with the top teeth – i.e. don’t push down with the head. Think in terms of top teeth “receiving” the mouthpiece from the lower teeth as when saying the syllable, “Ex.” As with all of these concepts, it is important to personalize this to a clarinetist’s unique physiology, equipment, etc. Also, be sure to say “Ex” and not “X.” They are very slightly different.

E-Tip #5: Eat. “Use ‘Chewing Muscles’ Up High.” Starting about High E (third ledger line above the staff) and higher, put molars and back teeth very slightly closer together as if chewing something. Be sure to use “Dee” voicing (see E-Tip #3). The higher the note, the more “chew” is needed. The key to playing up high is to find the best spot in your air position, embouchure, mechanism (i.e. your body), etc. for each note. Or, as Joe Allard used to say, “Every note has its own special feeling.” (This is true for all notes in all registers, actually.) As with the other E-Tips, this concept will take some experimentation.

[i] “Voicings” such as these are used to help with the position of the air, tongue, embouchure, mouth, etc. A clarinetist should be careful to not move the jaw the same amount s/he does when actually speaking these in normal conversation.

[ii] On “Teu,” do not drop the bottom teeth away from bottom lip (See Tip #1 above).


  1. The tips above are a shortened version of “E-Tips for E-Lips.” The complete version containing important acknowledgements (especially my heavy debt to master single reed teacher Joe Allard) can be found HERE.
  2. The cool “E” picture above is available HERE.
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5 Steps to Great Clarinet Tone: The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

ClarinetMike Performing in Austin, Texas Using The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure

ClarinetMike Performing in Austin, Texas Using The 5-C Clarinet Embouchure!

Hey! I just made a few small revisions to my 5-C Clarinet Embouchure (see below) that I put into my clinic handouts for some upcoming clarinet clinics. FYI, an Easy-To-Print-PDF of all my clarinet clinic handouts (including 5-C Embouchure) is available HERE. ClarinetMike says, “The 5-C Embouchure works GREAT for me and my students. Check it out! AND, print off the other handouts, too.”

[NOTE: I give permission to all readers of this ClarinetMike Blog to print, copy and distribute these handouts as desired. However, please remember they are copyrighted and must not be changed or altered in any way. Printing double-sided works great, fyi.]

5-C Clarinet Embouchure
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
BG France Performing Artist
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting * 682-888-7639 *

What produces the sound on the clarinet? Clarinet sound is produced by the reed vibrating against the slot in the mouthpiece activated by the air (see E-Tip #3). Unlike brass players, the clarinet embouchure is not the sound maker (resonator).

What is the purpose of clarinet embouchure? The purpose of clarinet embouchure is to provide a great platform (or “Happy Place”) for the reed to vibrate. The 5-C embouchure below will help a clarinetist develop a great environment or “Happy Place” for the reed to vibrate.

The 5-C embouchure could be thought of as a single lip version of a double lip embouchure (aka “Single Lip-Double Lip).  5-C allows the reed to vibrate freely as in double lip embouchure. However, since 5-C is a single lip embouchure with top teeth on the mouthpiece, it avoids the problems of double lip: hard to do, hurts for some, lack of stability for marching/standing, etc.

5-C Embouchure Steps

1.  Circumference (or Circle)
2. Corners to Cheekbones
3. Chin
4. Cover
5. Click

5-C Embouchure Details:

  1. Circumference (or Circle): Lightly stretch bottom lip flat around lower teeth circumference (or circle).
  2. Corners to Cheekbones: Use “Smile Muscles” (Zygomaticus major muscles) to stretch lightly upwards from mouth corners to cheekbones. These muscles are the ones used when smiling. This should also help flatten out the chin.
  3. Chin: Smooth out chin muscles, focusing the chin to a point. But, DO NOT hinge the jaw forward – use a normal face. NOTE: Steps 1 and 2 will likely flatten the chin just about right – this step could be called “Check Chin.”
  4. Cover: Put some bottom lip over bottom teeth – “Not too much, not too little, just right.”
  5. Click: Top teeth rest on mouthpiece. Think, “Click” (See E-Tip #4).  Don’t bite down hard – think of top teeth “receiving” the mouthpiece. IMPORTANT: Upper lip also sits gently on top of mouthpiece and moves upward toward top teeth with no downward pressure.

NOTE: The embouchure above and embouchure tips elsewhere have been heavily influenced by the ideas of master single reed teacher Joe Allard.  (This embouchure can be used on all clarinets and saxophones.) See my blog post, ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #25 ClarinetMike’s 5-C Embouchure at my ClarinetMike Blog, for important acknowledgements, etc.

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GREAT POSTURE RULES: Don’t Lean Over Too Much!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many students (and pros!) lean over too much when playing the clarinet (or saxophone!). Of course, it is very true that each person has their own unique way of relating to the clarinet based on their own particular body shape, embouchure, etc. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that leaning over too much while performing can, at least somewhat, hinder good technique and music making generally.

So, I make a point in the my clarinet teaching to be sure that my students don’t lean over too much. I say to them, “Have the clarinet come to you – don’t go to the clarinet.” This is often said  in the very first lesson, whether beginner, high school, college, or professional looking for a few pointers. It almost always helps to fix problems: embouchure, breathing, head position, hand/arm position, etc. (Click HERE to see a video where I work on this with a student in a master class at Florida State University.)

Watch for an upcoming post on the related issue of “head position/weight,” as it will be an extension of this topic.

ClarinetMike says, “Great posture on the clarinet totally rules! Don’t lean over too much and have the clarinet come to you!”

NOTE: The above photo is attributed to Saffron Blaze, via and is found at Wikimedia Commons HERE.

NOTE: The above is a slight revision of previous post.

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Lecture Notes for ClarinetMike Presentation at Texas Clarinet Colloquium 2017!

ClarinetMike says, "come to my presentation at the FREE Clarinet Colloquium. What a Deal!"

ClarinetMike says, “Come to my presentation at the FREE Clarinet Colloquium. It’ll be FUN!”

Below are the Lecture Notes for my presentation on the upcoming Texas Clarinet Colloquium 2017 at Texas A&M University-Commerce on Saturday, February 18, 2017. (An easy-to-print PDF of the my Lecture Notes is available HERE.)   My presentation on music preparation and performance will be at 1 pm.

GO FOR IT! Master Class and Workshop on Music Preparation and Performance
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
BG France Performing Artist
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting * 682-888-7639 *

Description: Michael Dean will work with master class participants on upgrading their music preparation and performance. Topics covered will include practice techniques, performance anxiety, practice routine, basics and scales, and more! This is a “How to Do It” workshop geared toward high school and junior high school students and teachers; however, the information will be useful to all.  All attendees are encouraged to bring their clarinets to the class

I. Intro
A. It’s All About Music – So, How Can I Help My Students Play Music Better?
1. Basics (ARTC, A = Think = How to Prepare Music, etc.)
2. Style (Esp. Romantic Period)

B. Key Concept: Loading/Unloading [Frank R. Wilson]
1. Illustrations: Shoelaces, Brushing Teeth, Dynamics, “Performance Tone”
2. Two Applications of Loading/Unloading
a. “The quality of the Unloading is based on the quality of the Loading.”
*** “Load only accurate information.”***
b. “Perform as much as possible from the Unloading Area.”
*** “Go For It”– “Make MUSIC!”***

II. Practice Routine
A. Basics (ARTC)
B. Scales
C. Music

III. Practice Techniques (with Demo)
A. Rhythm-Notes or Rhy-No
B. “Feed The Rhy-No!”
C. The Fast Way! (works great inside of Rhy-No)
D. Double Articulation (same)
E. Count Aloud
F. Note Grouping
G. Air Thru The Notes

IV. Performance Anxiety
A. Common Sense: Bananas, Sleep/Exercise/Diet, Check Clothes, Do IT!

V. Questions and Answers (formal and informal)

VI. Further Resources: ClarinetMike Blog,, Call, Text or Email Me, etc.

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