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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NACWPI 2021 National Conference: Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, October 22-24!

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas USA

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)

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 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 Ways to Practice After a Finger Cut

ClarinetMike at the University of Michigan teaching a clarinet master class right before the pandemic.

Recently, a fantastic student clarinetist I know cut their finger. So, I started wondering, “How can a student keep making progress on the clarinet when a finger is ‘out of action’ for a little while or possibly longer.” One of the first things I thought of was “Long Tones.” Then, related and other things started popping into my mind.

10 Ways to Practice After a Finger Cut
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Relaxation, Posture and Breathing. Don’t let a hurt finger mess up your relaxation, posture, and breathing when playing Long Tones. In fact, make a new commitment to work on these things!
  2. Embouchure. Work on it! Uncertain what to do? Ask your teacher or read this blog.
  3. Voicing/Overtones. Work on your voicing and overtones!
  4. High C. We often have to come in softly on high notes like second ledger line high C. Work on them!
  5. Sound Projection. This is a really important basic that we often forget to work on in our mad dash to prepare lots of difficult music.
  6. Tuning. Do you know what notes are sharp, flat, or in tune on your clarinet? How about on your A clarinet?
  7. Tonguing. In all registers and dynamics, work on: 1) Basic Tonguing, 2) Advanced Single Tonguing (very legato, legato, regular, mezzo-staccato, staccato, and extra crispy), and 3) Multiple Tonguing (double and triple).
  8. Reeds. Get a big pile of reeds and work on them!
  9. Study the Score and Listen! Get out the piano part to your solo and carefully study it. Listen to several great recordings. Read up on the composer and listen to their style.
  10. Clap and Sing the Music. “If you can’t clap it, you can’t play it!” Working on the slow movement of the Mozart concerto? Sing it in solfege! [ok, sing it on “la”]

ClarinetMike says, “If you have additional thoughts or suggestions, please reply to this post so others can benefit.”

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Job Search Help: “LinkedIn, Lumpy, and Me”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Spring is here and I know many of you are considering looking for a new job.  Some of you are soon to be spending lots of quality time at the TMEA Job Vacancy Search page! Therefore, I am reposting the below. FYI, I’ve recently spruced up my own LinkedIn Profile with an updated bio, resume/vita, performing and master class videos, etc. Check it out and please join me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/clarinetmike/.

“LinkedIn, Lumpy, and Me” by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Scene: ClarinetMike is chatting with Lumpy, an assistant band director, between lessons outside a practice room in a large band hall in Mayfield.

ClarinetMike: I recently set up my own LinkedIn page, why don’t you connect to me?

Lumpy: Uh, I’ve heard about LinkedIn somewhere. What is it?

ClarinetMike: It is a business-oriented social media site.

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 a big deal in the business world and there seems to be a growing number of musicians and music organizations 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 LinkedIn yesterday.

Lumpy: He’s on there? Wow! What does LinkedIn offer? Will it help me get a better 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, is a LinkedIn Profile like an online resume?

ClarinetMike: Yes. If you are applying for a job, it’s a much better professional gateway than Facebook for a Head Band Director, Director of Fine Arts, School Administrator, etc. to look at. Remember, LinkedIn is all related to business – no pictures of June’s lovely new dress or Beav and Larry playing baseball, etc.

Lumpy: So, LinkedIn is only about getting a job?

ClarinetMike: Actually, there’s more. LinkedIn also has discipline-specific professional groups where people post and discuss various issues in a way similar to Facebook.

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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ClarinetMike Blog 10th Anniversary!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

ClarinetMike says, “Hey! Heartfelt thanks to each of you who have read the blog and interacted with me these past 10 years.”

HISTORY: Early in 2011, Mrs. ClarinetMike said to me, “Hey, you should start a clarinet blog.” And then on March 16, 2011, I posted the following:

Welcome to ClarinetMike Blog!

“Hello World! My name is Michael Dean (aka ClarinetMike) and this is my new blog.  I will be posting on all things clarinet (and saxophone, too).  To stay updated you may want to subscribe to my blog by email or RSS – see the buttons to the right. Thanks! Mike”

STATS: The ClarinetMike Blog is one of the top clarinet blogs on the Internet.  In 2017, Google Search started listing it as the #1 clarinet blog and it has stayed #1 since.  Also, the ClarinetMike Blog is the #1 clarinet blog on the website, Top 25 Clarinet Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021 (updated March 13, 2021). Over 10 years, the ClarinetMike Blog has had 477 posts with 342,800 views in more than 150+ countries on 6 continents. In 2014, the blog even had a view at Vatican City!

PARTY: I’ve been unsure what to do to mark the occasion, so I decided to have an online party on Facebook, click here.  (I’d much rather have a real party in my backyard with Texas BBQ! FYI, Nimbus my golden retriever loves you and wants to play with you! Maybe some day in the future.) Join the Facebook Party event and pop by tomorrow and say hey! I’ll try to put up some favorite pictures and such on there. Maybe I’ll post some cool dog pictures of Nimbus and Andy!

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7 Sight-Reading Tips

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

7 Sight-Reading Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Sight-Read. “Just Do It!” The best way to learn to read at sight is to do it every day. Make sure to sight-read all different kinds and levels of music. A nice book to start with is Rubank’s Supplementary Studies by R.M. Endresen. It’s been arranged for many instruments. This book is inexpensive and has a million uses – ClarinetMike says, “Get it!”
  2. Rhythm First. I like to say, “Play the Rhythm, Guess at the Notes.” The idea is to “guess” at the rhythms first!
  3. Scan Plan. At an audition, contest, or even a rehearsal, you usually get a little time to look over the music before sight-reading. Have an organized plan, a “Scan Plan,” to quickly check things like tempo, style, key, key changes, accidentals, busy areas (areas of fast notes), etc.
  4. Don’t Stop, Keep Going. Keep forging ahead as you sight-read – don’t worry about mistakes. If you get lost, start back up where you stopped, never repeat anything.
  5. Just Duet! Sight-read duets with a buddy – it’s fun and it’s good for you!
  6. Transpose. Occasionally transpose music while sight-reading (C and A Clarinet on Bb clarinet, Bass Clef on bass clarinet and alto saxophone, etc.)
  7. Play With Recordings. Try sitting in front of a big HD (4K) TV sight-reading along with a video of a major orchestra, wind ensemble, or jazz band playing a work. (NOTE: Some orchestras don’t play at A=440.)

ClarinetMike says, “Check out the quotes below.”

The main things we’re looking for are a tone that blends with
the others players, outstanding musicianship, and thorough
preparation, which spills over into sight-reading – being able
to get a piece of music performance-ready very quickly.
Acclaimed Conductor Jerry Junkin
(from “What Are The Top Qualities You Look For When
Hiring A Wind Musician?” WINDPLAYER #59, p. 12)

If you aren’t prepared enough for a rehearsal or a lesson,
being great at sight-reading can save your neck.
Somewhat-Famous Clarinet Blogger

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5 Ways to Improve Clarinet Tone Fast!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

ClarinetMike says, “More Air is the granddaddy of all clarinet tone quick fixes. Here’s five more.”

5 Ways to Improve Clarinet Tone Fast!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1. Show Me Your Reed. Inspect the reed of each and every student. Don’t let students play on reeds that are very old (too soft) or badly chipped. However, sometimes a slightly chipped reed will play fine, so don’t throw it away without testing it!

2. Sit Up Tall. Noted clarinetist Julian Bliss said something similar at a clinic I attended at TMEA a few years ago.

3. Don’t Pinch The Sides of the Reed. Be sure to keep the lower lip flat against the reed so as not to crimp the corners of the reed.  Once past the reed, the lips can 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.

4. Project Your Sound. Think about it, talk about it, work on it, and DO IT! Check out my article on sound projection here.

5. Voice Eee’s.  Use “Eee” syllables when playing in different registers on the clarinet. Go here to check out the syllables.

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