ClarinetMike’s Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Clinic 2016-17: Soprano Clarinet Etude No. 2, “The Slow Etude”

Dr. Michael Dean "ClarinetMike"

ClarinetMike says, “Opera, Opera, Opera! Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve and make the judges cry!!”

Below are my complete clinic notes on Etude No. 2, “The Slow Etude,” from this year’s Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Etudes. Watch for my notes on Etudes 1 and 3 coming soon! Check out my previous posts on the all-state etudes: CLICK HERE.

ClarinetMike’s Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Clinic 2016-17: Soprano Clarinet Etude No. 2, “The Slow Etude”

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

Etude Book: David Hite editor, Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School [Rose Etudes]. Published by Southern Music (For official TMEA listing, click HERE.)

Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments. He “clarinetized” them.

Practice Tip: Load accurate information when practicing. Use the Rhy-No Practice Technique with BOLD Dynamics.

Etude 2, Adagio cantabile, Page: 61, Key: Bb Major (and G minor), Etude Title: 32 Etudes, No. 16, Play from beginning to end.  Tempo: Eight Note = 88-100 [learn and perform in 8].
Errata: m8 – four notes before the end of the measure should be C natural, not C-sharp
m8 – three notes before the end of the measure should be a Bb
m12 – B-flats, six and seven notes from end of measure should be tied together
m20 – The lower neighbor note in the indicated turn should be B natural (not Bb) (revised 8/28)

Composer and Style: This Rose etude is based on an etude by court oboist Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874). Ferling wrote this etude in the style of a Bel Canto Aria likely being influenced by Italian Opera ( This excellent slow etude is LOADED with opportunities for emotional musical expression and creativity. THINK OPERA! Recall that Rose himself was 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. So, Opera, Opera, Opera! “Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve” and make the judges cry!!

Overview: Slow etude in the style of a Romantic Era opera aria with 4 major issues: Tone, Phrasing (especially Dynamic Contrasts), Thirty-seconds and Cadenza in P1, and Technique in P3.

Sections and Phrases: Etude breaks down into 4 clear phrases: P1 = m1-m9, P2 = m10-m21, P3 = m22-m29, and P4 = m29-end.

Tempo: I suggest learning and performing this etude in 8 with eighth note as the beat (one eighth note = one beat). While it is possible to count the etude in 4 in quarter notes, I think the slow tempo makes it difficult to keep a consistently steady beat and keep rhythmic patterns proportional.

Musical Issues: The tempo indication, “Adagio,” means “slow.” “Cantabile” means “singing.” (In Italian and Spanish “Cantar” translates “to sing.”) So, sing slowly on your clarinet. The word, “dolce” is written at the start of the work at m1 and again at m38. “Dolce” means “sweetly.” However, I generally think of dolce meaning “tenderly.” (Dolce can have some muscle to it and is not always played at a soft dynamic – see Brahms, for example.) Know all the terms and indications that are on the music. They clearly indicate an over-the-top operatic style of phrasing. Always play with the most beautiful tone possible. In an audition, tone quality should be considered one of the most important factors. [Note to All-Region Judges: This the Slow etude! Please do not reward students who play extremely fast with a bad sound and no dynamics or musicianship at all. At the audition, please don’t sit there just bean-counting mistakes as your only adjudication. This is music, not football!]

Problem Passages: Thirty-second notes in m3 and m7. On the cadenza in m8, I suggest performing it as a 2 octave D chromatic scale with a pickup note C# – start the cadenza slowly and speed up as you go until reaching the high D. P3 has some tricky spots: triplets in m23 and m27 and especially the “three against two” in m26.

Technical Issues: Articulation: All staccatos whether with slur (m4) or not (m12, m23, etc.) should be light and detached, not too short – use a light tongue stroke. Fingerings: Left C in several spots after and before Eb. Consider resonance fingerings on exposed throat tone spots, especially m22, m25, m37 and m40/41.  Trills: Generally, start trills slowly and speed up. Stop trills on fourth beat and do grace notes on upbeat. m17 is a tricky trill – try leaving Eb key down while trilling and see if it works for you. m29 consider side key for trill. Turn: Play the turn in m20 as a triplet on the upbeat of beat 5 (D, C, B – play B natural as in Errata above) Other: In m3 don’t rush off F on beat 5.

Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet: Scales: Bb major, Chromatic, and G harmonic minor. Arpeggios: Bb major, D major, G minor, and D7 with flat9 [D, F#, A, C, Eb] in m27 beats 3 and 4.

Breathing: As marked. Follow the phrasing as much as possible. A few breathing spots to consider: m12 after first Eb and first D on beats 1 and 5 respectively, m23 after first note, m24 after first G, and m26 stop and breath at end of measure after the final A.

Other: A few years ago, I wrote an in-depth analysis of this etude for the Missouri All-State Band Clarinet Audition. The analysis is based on the old Carl Fischer edition. Also, this edition of the Rose 32 Etudes lists our etude as number 17. The analysis is on a hidden part of my website, but it can be accessed at this link: NOTE: my thinking has likely changed a little in 5 years, so there may be a few differences between the link and this document.

Suggested Listening: Listen to the great bel canto singers Natalie Dessay and Maria Callas. (I’m especially crazy about Natalie Dessay.) Here’s a few videos (click on the name): Dessay 1Dessay 2, Dessay 3 and Callas.

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ClarinetFest 2017 Orlando, Florida: Proposal Deadline is September 30th, 2016

Experience Universal Orlando Resort?s two world-class theme parks and vacation like you mean it!

ClarinetFest® 2017 will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton at entrance to Universal Orlando.

ClarinetFest 2017 will be July 26-30, 2017 at the beautiful DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton at the entrance to the Universal Orlando theme park in Orlando, Florida!  Check out the below information from the International Clarinet Association on applying to perform or present at ClarinetFest 2017! ClarinetMike says, “Apply!”


2017 Call for Submissions Deadline is September 30th!

Have you marked your calendar for ClarinetFest® 2017, July 26th-30th? ClarinetFest® 2017 will be held at the beautiful DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton at the entrance to the Universal Orlando theme park. The affordable sleeping room rates will include complimentary wi-fi, and plenty of dining options are available at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk restaurants. Everyone will enjoy plenty of Florida sunshine, and even a brief summer rain shower or two won’t dampen our spirits or the proceedings. All conference events and exhibits will take place in the spacious and fully air conditioned conference wing of the hotel. Submissions for presentations at ClarinetFest® 2017 are due by September 30th.

The ICA is using a website called to receive submissions for ClarinetFest® 2017. In order to “start an application” on the Acceptd website, you must first create a login that is separate from your ICA website login. If you experience any difficulties with the Acceptd website, their customer support number is 1-888-725-2122 ext. 2, or you may use the green “help” button on the left of the screen.

SAVE THE DATES, July 26th-30th, 2017, we hope to see you there!


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10 All-State Practice Tips!

ClarinetMike says, "Genuine Excellent = Talent x Practice Time x Practice Quality. These tips will improve your practice quality."

ClarinetMike says, “Genuine Excellence = Talent x Practice Time x Practice Quality.”

Here are 10 general practice tips for preparing the All-State audition etudes (or any music). More All-State help coming soon from ClarinetMike!

  1. Go Slow. Load correct information only! Go slow and learn the rhythm and notes correctly the first time and every time.
  2. MORE Go Slow. Work on the etude by counting in eighth notes, i.e. twice as slow, where one eighth note gets one beat, one quarter note gets two counts, etc.
  3. Ornaments First Time and Every Time! In preparing the etude, YOU MUST learn it the right way slowly every single time. DO NOT skip grace notes, trills, turns, etc. and think you will add those later. BAD IDEA! Your “muscle memory” will be messed up and you’ll be relearning those spots forever.
  4. Performance Tone. Learn etude with a “performance tone,” not a “practice tone.” In fact, never use a “practice tone.” [This idea comes from Note Grouping video below.] A bad tone always sounds bad!
  5. Note Grouping. Practice Note Grouping Concept for fast passages. It is described in this video HERE.
  6. DYNAMICS! 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. Check out my ADD BOLD DYNAMICS! post.
  7. Practice Routine. Work on basics and scales every day in an organized Practice Routine. Put special attention on tonguing every day – check out my “Betty” post. FYI, the professor who chose this year’s Texas all-state music specifically mentioned the importance of daily work on basics and scales in the state music clinic at TBA.
  8. Sight-Reading. Do a little sight-reading every day to keep your playing fresh.
  9. Metronome. The metronome is a valuable tool and should be used a lot, but wisely. Do not use it 100% of the time when you practice the etudes. Do not get “Metronome Addiction.” This is where a person can play an etude well only with a metronome. Common Sense is also a valuable tool.
  10. Practice Rhy-No. Check out Rhy-No Practice,  Feed The Rhy-NoThe Fast Way, and other practice techniques from this blog – Click Here.


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ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: 5 Embouchure Tips “The E-Tips for E-Lips”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

ClarinetMike says, “Test these 5 tips and see if they work for you!”

I recently posted my Single Lip-Double Lip (aka 5-C) clarinet embouchure on this blog (CLICK HERE). Below are 5 related embouchure tips that I strongly suggest using with it. In addition to working GREAT with the Single Lip-Double Lip embouchure, I also think these tips will generally work well with pretty much any clarinet embouchure on any size of clarinet AND will also be 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: The tips below 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.

Clarinet Embouchure: 5 E-Tips for E-Lips SHORT VERSION
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

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:

“Tew” low register (below Open G)  with a French pronunciation[ii] (see video clip below)
“Tee” Open G up to second 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 “Tew, 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 “Tew” 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 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.

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 “Tew,” do not drop the bottom teeth away from bottom lip (See Tip #1 above).

[The above is a slightly revised version of a previous post.]

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ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: Great Embouchure = Great Clarinetists! The Single Lip-Double Lip Embouchure

Dr. Michael Dean "ClarinetMike"

ClarinetMike says, “Single Lip-Double Lip Embouchure works great for me and my students!”

ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: Great Embouchure = Great Clarinetists! The Single Lip-Double Lip Embouchure

“Single-Lip-Double Lip” is the term I use to describe the embouchure I perform with and teach (also known as “5-C“ Embouchure). The embouchure was developed over a number of years based on my study of the innovative ideas of master single reed teacher Joe Allard. (See HERE for important acknowledgements, etc.)

“Single Lip-Double Lip” is a single lip embouchure that gives the benefits of both single and double lip embouchures. Described below, the “Single Lip-Double Lip” embouchure allows the reed to vibrate freely as does a double lip embouchure. However, it avoids the problems of double lip: hard to do, hurts for some, lack of stability for marching/standing, etc.

I strongly suggest using the “Single Lip-Double Lip” embouchure in conjunction with my “5 E-Tips for E-Lips” embouchure tips.

Single Lip-Double Lip Clarinet Embouchure

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).

So, what is the purpose of clarinet embouchure? The purpose of clarinet embouchure is to provide a great environment or platform (or “Happy Place”) for the reed to vibrate. My Single Lip-Double Lip (aka 5-C) Embouchure below will help a clarinetist develop a good platform or “Happy Place” for the reed to vibrate.

Single Lip-Double Lip [5-C] Embouchure Steps:

1. Circumference
2. Corners to Cheekbones
3. Chin
4. Cover
5. Click

Single Lip-Double Lip [5-C] Embouchure Details:

  1. Circumference: Lightly stretch bottom lip flat around lower teeth circumference.
  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 upwards toward top teeth with no downward pressure.

ClarinetMike says, “Great Clarinet Tone is really only about making a happy place for the reed to vibrate and blowing the air the right way.”*

*High quality clarinet, mouthpiece, reed, ligature, barrel, etc. are essential too, of course….

[The above is a slightly revised version of a previous post.]

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Skype Clarinet Lessons with ClarinetMike Now Available!

ClarinetMike says, "Study with me on Skype!"

ClarinetMike says, “Hey! Study Clarinet with me on Skype!”

Skype. I am currently accepting new students in my clarinet studio for live video lessons over Skype. I will also accept a limited number of saxophone students, especially doublers. Let me help you strive for genuine excellence as a clarinetist and prepare you for all-state auditions, concerto competitions, orchestra auditions, solo contests, university scholarship auditions, jury and recital hearings, concerts, job interviews and more! To contact me, CLICK HERE.

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” is a former clarinet professor with more than 30 years of private clarinet teaching experience at all levels, from university graduate students to beginners. His students consistently win awards and distinctions at all-region, all-area, all-state, solo & ensemble, MTNA, and various concerto and other competitions. His students perform professionally in military bands, orchestras, big bands, traveling broadway shows and more. His students are consistently accepted into prestigious university music schools and hold faculty appointments as music educators and administrators. Click HERE for more Michael Dean biographical information and HERE for a brochure.

Equipment. Students need a computer with a good internet connection, webcam with microphone, and free Skype app. (I can help you figure it out – it’s easy!)

Information. For information on Skype Clarinet Lessons with ClarinetMike, just send an email or give me a call – CLICK HERE.

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ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: Improve Your Clarinet Tone with Better Ligature and Reed Placement

“Little Things Make Big Things Happen.”

Get CLARINET POWER! with Better Ligature and Reed Placement

ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: Improve Your Clarinet Tone with Better Ligature and Reed Placement

Clarinet (and saxophone) sound is all about reed vibration. The more and better the reed vibrates, the better the sound. (In fact, the embouchure’s purpose is to create a great place for the reed to vibrate – see my Single Lip-Double Lip Embouchure.)

The placement of the ligature and the positioning of the reed are profoundly important to reed vibration. These are often overlooked by clarinet teachers, band directors, students, and even some professionals. Below is what works well for me and my students.*

Ligature. Put the ligature on close to the window of the mouthpiece by clamping the reed at the top of the stock just below the cut in the bark below the shoulders. (Illustration of reed parts.) Also, depending on the style of ligature, be sure to center the ligature on the reed squarely with equal clamping on both sides of reed. (NOTE: Every ligature I’ve seen has the screw on the right side.)

Reed.  Line up the reed on the table of the mouthpiece so that the tip and side rails (edges) of the reed are squarely on the tip rail and side rails of the mouthpiece. The reed should be almost to the tip of the mouthpiece with only the very, very smallest line of mouthpiece black visible above the reed.(Illustration of mouthpiece parts.)

Additionally, if a reed is a little soft, it can be “cheated,” i.e. moved up on the mouthpiece just a very little. This makes the reed a little stronger; however, it is only a “quick fix” and should not be routinely done. Conversely, if a reed is hard, it can be moved down a little – but I don’t do this much.

*NOTE:  Obviously, there’s a wide variety of possible mouthpiece, ligature and reed combinations – not to mention the personal tastes of a given musician.  Therefore, experimentation with ligatures and reeds is encouraged. The BIG ISSUE HERE is to make sure you, your students, etc. actually consider reed and ligature placement and not just “slap ‘em on” haphazardly.

ClarinetMike says, “Take just a little extra time to carefully put on your ligature and reed. You will love the results!”

(The above is a slightly revised version of a previous post.)

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