Duo 35 Plays ELVIS! Program Notes for Duo 35 TMEA Tour 2019! Saxophonist Todd Oxford and ClarinetMike Perform at TMEA on Friday, February 15 at 2 pm!

As previously posted, saxophonist Todd Oxford and I have been invited to perform at the HUGE Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention 2019 in beautiful downtown San Antonio, Texas on Friday, February 15 at 2 p.m.!  Leading up to our big TMEA concert, Todd and I will be doing a supporting tour in Texas.  Below are the Duo 35 TMEA Tour 2019 Itinerary, Concert Program, and PROGRAM NOTES. ClarinetMike says, “We’re playing some Elvis – see below! Make plans to hear us at TMEA. Please come on by and say, ‘Hey Now, Duo 35!’”

Duo 35 TMEA Tour 2019
Michael Dean, clarinet

Todd Oxford, alto saxophone

Coppell High School, Coppell, Texas
Concert, 12:45 p.m., Friday, February 8

Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas
Concert, Noon and Master Class, 2 p.m., Monday, February 11

Texas Music Educators Clinic/Convention (TMEA)
Convention Center North Lobby, San Antonio, Texas
Concert, 2 p.m., Friday, February 15

The Easy Winners (1901) by Scott Joplin (1868-1917) Arr. by Terry Kenny
(clarinet and alto saxophone)

Sweet and Go (2014) by Armando Ghidoni (b.1959)
(alto saxophone)

Plaisir d’amour (2017) by Robert Fruehwald (b.1957)
(clarinet and alto saxophone)

When Armenian Butterflies Dream (2015) by Jeffrey Hoover (b.1959)

Maple Leaf Rag (1899) by Scott Joplin (1868-1917) Arr. by Terry Kenny
(clarinet and alto saxophone)


The Easy Winners (1901) by Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

Scott Joplin

The Easy Winners (subtitled A Ragtime Two Step) is one of Joplin’s most popular works. It was one of the four that had been recorded as of 1940. The copyright for the original piano version was registered October 10, 1901. The Shattinger Music Company of St. Louis, Missouri bought the piece and published a simplified version. Only later did John Stillwell Stark publish it as written. This performance features The Easy Winners and Maple Leaf Rag (below) in arrangements by Terry Kenny found in the Barrelhouse Party duet collection published by Edition Darok in 1993.

American composer and pianist Scott Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the “King of Ragtime Writers.” During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.

Sweet and Go (2014) by Armando Ghidoni (b.1959)

Armando Ghidoni

Armando Ghidoni writes of his work: “Premiered in 2013, Sweet and Go, for solo saxophone elegantly explores the poetic and technical resources of the instrument. The diptych, approximately five minutes in length, opens with an Adagio, a free declamation in recitative that is an oasis of tenderness to which the glissandi bring a whiff of the Orient. In contrast to this voluptuous dream, the second section, marked Vivo brilante ben ritmato, allows the soloist to display a sparkling, without betraying the underlying spirit of improvisation. Melodies, rhythms, nuances and colours all contribute to this festival of ingenuity.”

Honorary President of the Olivier Messiaen Music School in Nantes, Armando Ghidoni is intensely active as a composer. He was born in Italy but raised in France. His catalogue includes many instrumental scores that are regularly chosen as set pieces in leading national and international competitions, as well as chamber music, sacred music, incidental music and an opera that has been played throughout the world.

Plaisir d’amour (2017) by Robert Fruehwald (b. 1957) 

Robert Fruehwald

Plaisir d’amour was commissioned by Duo 35 and premiered by them at the NACWPI/College Music Society Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in October of 2018.  Robert Fruehwald writes of his work: “Plaisir d’Amour is one of the world’s most popular love songs. It was written in 1784 by french composer Jean-Paul-Égide Martini. It was later orchestrated by Hector Berlioz. It has been recorded by numerous opera singers including Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Janet Baker, and Plácido Domingo. It appears in the films The Heiress, Love Affair, We’re No Angels, and The Affair of the Necklace as well as the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.  Plaisir d’amour is perhaps best known in the version sung by Elvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love. The original french text is from a poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. The opening lines sum up the experience of love lost: The pleasure of love lasts only a moment. The grief of love lasts all your life (Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment. Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie).”

Robert Fruehwald grew up in Louisville, Kentucky where he played flute in the Louisville Youth Orchestra. He attended the University of Louisville receiving a Bachelor of Music in Composition (with honors). While in Louisville, he studied composition with Nelson Keyes, Claude Baker, and Dan Welcher, and flute with Francis Fuge. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at the California Institute of the Arts studying with Mel Powell, Morton Subotnick, and Leonard Rosenman. He returned to the Midwest to work on a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. There, he studied under Robert Wykes and finished his doctorate in 1985. Before accepting a teaching position in the late 1980s, Dr. Fruehwald developed a series of programs to print musical examples for scholarly journals and books. In 1989 Robert Fruehwald took a teaching position at Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Fruehwald has taught numerous subjects at Southeast including applied composition, music theory, applied flute, electronic-computer music, and the history of modernism. He served as chair of the department of music at Southeast Missouri State University from 1995-2000. His professional web page is available HERE.

When Armenian Butterflies Dream (2015) by Jeffrey Hoover (b.1959)

Jeffrey Hoover

When Armenian Butterflies Dream had only been performed in Armenia when clarinetist Michael Dean gave the North American Premiere of the work at the NACWPI/College Music Society Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in October of 2018.  Jeffrey Hoover writes of his work: “When Armenian Butterflies Dream was inspired by studying the musical elements and colors of sacred Armenian chant. It also combines the spiritual symbolism of the ‘rebirth’ of the butterfly: its transformation from larva and eventual emergence as a full adult. The composition of When Armenian Butterflies Dream coincided with the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015.”  A digital painting, When Armenian Butterflies Dream, by Jeffrey Hoover is available HERE.

Jeffrey Hoover’s work – music ranging from soloist to symphony orchestra – has received recognition through the prestigious Trieste prize, awards from Mu Phi Epsilon, the Lancaster Fine Arts Festival, grants, publications fellowships and more than 20 commissions.  He is a member of the ACME roster of Mu Phi Epsilon, recognized for distinguished achievement as a composer. One unique aspect of Hoover’s creative output is when he combines composition with painting, creating synergetic works that intrigue and captivate audiences and performers alike.  His work is seen in exhibitions and in concerts where his paintings are projected while musicians perform his music.  Whether making interdisciplinary works, or traditional stand-alone sonic or visual art, Hoover shapes his work through inner vision and experience.  Hoover’s background as a performer includes both classical and jazz music, as saxophonist and conductor.  His book The Arts and Society:  Making New Worlds (Music, Art, Theater, Dance, Film, Poetry, and Architecture) is published by Kendall Hunt Publishing. He holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts (Composition and Interdisciplinary Fine Arts) from Texas Tech University, as well as a M.M. and Bch.Sc. from Ball State University.  His career in higher education has included both faculty and administrative appointments.  Hoover resides in Sacramento, California. His professional web page is available HERE.

Maple Leaf Rag (1899) by Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

Front cover of third edition of “Maple Leaf Rag” sheet music.

Maple Leaf Rag (copyright registered on September 18, 1899) is an early ragtime musical composition for piano. It was one of Joplin’s early works, and became the model for ragtime compositions by subsequent composers. It is one of the most famous of all ragtime pieces. The piece gave Joplin a steady if unspectacular income for the rest of his life. Despite ragtime’s decline after Joplin’s death in 1917, the Maple Leaf Rag continued to be recorded by many well-known artists. The ragtime revival of the 1970s brought it back to mainstream public notice once again.


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7 Easy Tricks to Improve Clarinet Tone Immediately! [or almost immediately]

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

ClarinetMike says, “The granddaddy (and best) of all clarinet tone quick fixes is ‘More Air.’ Here’s 7 more.”

7 Easy Tricks to Improve Clarinet Tone Immediately! [or almost immediately]
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1. Show Me Your Reed! I suggest band directors and private teachers personally inspect the reed of each and every student. Don’t let the students play on reeds that are super old (soft) or badly chipped (however, sometimes slightly chipped reeds will play ok).  This leads to:

2. Get a Good Reed! Do what it takes to have high quality reeds to practice and perform on. Check out the newer reeds from Vandoren and D’Addario. Remember, the best clarinet player in the world sounds bad on a bad reed.

3. Don’t Pinch The Corners 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 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. (This is E-Tip #2 from my 5 E-Tips for E-Lips Clarinet Embouchure Tips. For more on this tip and the other embouchure E-Tips, go HERE.)

4. Voice Eee’s.  I’ve found it very helpful to use different “Eee” syllables when playing in different registers on the clarinet. Go HERE to check out the syllables. (This is E-Tip #3  from my 5 E-Tips for E-Lips Clarinet Embouchure Tips. For more on this tip and the other embouchure E-Tips, go HERE.)

5. Sit Up Tall. Noted clarinetist Julian Bliss said something similar at a clinic I attended at TMEA a year ago. Check out a couple related ClarinetMike Blog posts HERE and HERE.

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

7. THINK ABOUT TONE! Pay Attention to Clarinet Sound.  Students: Don’t just mindlessly blow. Listen! Teachers: Don’t put up with bad clarinet sounds – work on them! You will find my 5-C Clarinet Embouchure helpful: check it out HERE.

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ClarinetMike’s Basic Tonguing Exercise [aka BTE or “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 an articulation exercise that I’ve found very helpful in my students and my own playing.

ClarinetMike’s Basic Tonguing Exercise [aka BTE  or “Betty”]
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

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 – aka 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 quarter notes 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….”


*When working on Betty, try using the voicings from E-Tip #3: Eee’s from my E-Tips for E-Lips embouchure tips.

NOTE: FYI, 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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ClarinetMike In Italy 2019! Orfeo Music Festival 2019 Application Information and MORE!

ClarinetMike says, “Ciao! Come Study Clarinet in the Italian Alps at the Orfeo Music Festival in July 2019!”

NEWS! I’ve accepted an appointment to again return as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival in the beautiful Italian Alps in Vipiteno, Italy (Sterzing) this coming summer, July 5-19, 2019.

Check It Out! Orfeo Music Festival 2019 Website:  www.orfeomusicfestival.com. Festival concerts are held at historical venues such as Vipiteno’s Medieval and Renaissance churches as well as at a beautiful modern theater. The study program takes place in one of the best music schools in the region located in a beautiful 13th-century historical building. Festival participants stay at local hotels within walking distance of all venues. Click here.

Who? YOU! Who should apply to go to Orfeo 2019? University, college, conservatory and graduate students, advanced high school students, talented amateurs, and teachers looking for professional development should apply. Please contact me if you have questions or want help with applying: email me at clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com or click here.

Friends! A variety of students attend the Orfeo Music Festival. The majority are university and high school students, but there are also younger students as well as talented adult amateurs and others. Most Festival participants are from the USA, but there is a definite international flavor with faculty and students from Russia, Austria, China, Germany, England, Australia, Korea, and other countries.

Apply!  Click here. Regular application deadline is March 1, 2019. However, registration is accepted until about April 15, 2019 with higher fees.  Application Fee is discounted by $50 if paid by February 15, 2019.  I am happy to help you with applying, just contact me: clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com or click here.

Scholarships! The Orfeo Music Festival has a limited number of merit scholarships available. Click here for more information.

Fee Table! How much does Orfeo 2019 cost? Click here.

Facebook!  Check out and join my official ClarinetMike In Italy 2019 Facebook Page. I’ll be posting updates, pictures, video, application information, and all kinds of cool stuff about Orfeo 2019! Click here.

Perform! Below I’m performing at last summer’s Orfeo Music Festival 2018 in Vipiteno, Italy. I’m giving the World Premiere of Raymond Head’s Small Voice of Calm with my fabulous Orfeo colleague, Dena Kay Jones, at Vigil Raber Saal in downtown Vipiteno, Italy.

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12 Simple Steps to Sensational Private Lessons! Follow These and Your Performing Will Skyrocket!

ClarinetMike says, “Notice below that great private lessons begin and end with great practicing.”

Hey! Below are some common-sense tips that will help students get the most out of private lessons.

12 Simple Steps to Sensational Private Lessons! by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Practice. Treat private lessons like an important class. Carefully and completely do your homework = LOTS OF GREAT DAILY PRACTICE!
  2. Warm Up. Warm up thoroughly before the lesson.
  3. Be Early. Show up 5 minutes early to the lesson with instrument “ready to go” and wait patiently outside your teacher’s studio door.
  4. No Beeps, Buzzers or Bells. Turn off cell phone and other gizmos during the lesson and while waiting patiently outside the studio door.
  5. “I’m late, I’m late….” Don’t be late to a lesson, but if you are running late [like the White Rabbit in Alice], send a text to your teacher immediately.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.”
  8. Write It Down. After the lesson, write down what was discussed, assignments, etc. Keeping a notebook for lessons is a great idea.
  9. Lock It In. Make a point to practice at least a little after the lesson. This will help “lock in” what was taught.
  10. Practice Wisely. Make sure you practice all that the teacher assigns in the way that the teacher has directed you.
  11. 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.
  12. Practice Log. Keep a practice log of all practicing. Putting it on your wall or near your work desk will remind you to practice.

BONUS: Steps Ahead. Remember that your private lesson teacher may be writing a letter of recommendation for you in the future. So please follow these guidelines.

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BROKEN New Year’s Resolutions? Think HABITS Instead!

Andy, our beloved family dog, was a creature of habit, just like people!

As of today, a few [some…many…most…all!] of you who made New Year’s Resolutions have broken at least one [some…many…most…all!]. Don’t give up! Below is some help for you – and ME! Let us think about and work on our HABITS, such as the important habit of great practice!

BROKEN New Year’s Resolutions? Think HABITS Instead!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

BASEBALL! (Pitchers and Catchers Report in 41 Days!) When I was a kid, I played little league baseball. While fielding a position, my coaches taught me to keep my right thumb between my first two fingers when the pitcher started to make his pitch. This way, if a ball was hit to me, my fingers would go to the ball in my glove with perfect hand position for throwing a baseball (see pictures below).

I’ve noticed lately that when I’m walking around that my right thumb is often between my first two fingers! I haven’t played baseball in little league for decades, but the finger position habit I developed as a kid is still with me! [I just stopped typing, looked down, and there was my right thumb between my first two fingers!]

The above is a small, but significant, illustration of the power of habit to shape our lives.  In view of this, I believe it is vital that we constantly work to ingrain great habits (physical and mental) in our own clarinet playing and that of our students. This is true not only for the rhythms, notes and dynamics of a specific work one is working on, but with fundamentals such as embouchure, tonguing, voicing, relaxation, posture, confidence, etc.

ClarinetMike says, “Constantly Load GREAT HABITS!”

PS. Here’s an example of how this often works out in the clarinet (and saxophone, etc.) world. In coming weeks, many high school seniors here in the USA will be taking auditions for entrance and scholarships at colleges, universities and conservatories. Some of them will play “high, loud, and fast” with blinding technical speed but will be passed over (i.e. not accepted or given scholarships) because they have poor fundamentals such as bad tone, articulation, rhythm, etc. (This is true for some All-Staters, too! I know some horror stories….)

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5 Simple Rules for Making New Year’s Resolutions

ClarinetMike says, “Happy New Year!”

Hey! Most years I make New Year’s Resolutions and I’m sure you do, too! Below are some common-sense guidelines I came up with a couple years ago to help you (and ME!) make and keep at least some of them!

5 Simple Rules for Making New Year’s Resolutions
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Definite. Try to do something specific by a certain date, like “Lose 15 pounds by June 1,” instead of “Get in Shape SOON!”
  2. Challenging, but Attainable. As the great John Wooden indicated (See HERE at about 30:45), goals should be difficult, but doable.
  3. Clear and Concise. Keep it simple.
  4. Just a Few. Getting a couple things accomplished this year is better than 20 things planned, but never done.
  5. Write it down. Put your resolutions some place that you can see them. Posting them near your work desk would be excellent.
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