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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Improve Clarinet Articulation!

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

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 with my students and in my own playing. Also, below is a ClarinetMike Illustration, i.e. “Storytime with ClarinetMike!”

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

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

************

ClarinetMike: “Great to see you 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 [Single Tongue] 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 or a passage from an etude or solo with four tongued quarter notes on each note of the scale or passage. (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 on notes in all registers – not just the low register!*

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….”

************

ClarinetMike Illustration: I once gave a masterclass at a well-known university in the USA [not Michigan above]. I worked with a graduate clarinet student who was preparing for an orchestra audition. I worked with him on Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo – an important excerpt that’s loaded with lots of fast tonguing. He played it for me and and his tonguing was lacking (actually kinda bad!). I asked him how much he worked on tonguing each day in his daily practice. I expected him to say, “None,” but he surprised me and said something like 45 minutes a day!! I was stunned and thought “how can you practice that much on tonguing and sound so bad!” I realized that he had been likely only working on complicated double and triple tonguing stuff his famous undergraduate teacher had given him at a swanky East Coast conservatory. So, I had him do the above Basic Tonguing Exercise. He showed some immediate improvement and was happy about it!

ClarinetMike says, “Spend quality time with your new best friend, Betty!”

************

*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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12 Leadership and Teaching Tips from John Wooden

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Recently here at ClarinetMike HQ, we have been discussing the leadership and teaching ideas of legendary basketball coach John Wooden. So, to tip-off my blog in 2021 with a little inspiration, I offer some tips from an article I wrote in the NACWPI Journal a few years ago based on my study of the works of Coach John Wooden.

Preparation and Effort: Tips on Applying John Wooden’s Concepts
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. Focus on Preparation and Effort. Spend your time working on what is under your control: your preparation and effort.

2. Work Hard and Plan Carefully. The first block of the Pyramid of Success says, “There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.” Wooden says, “I fully understood that the success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely.” (Wooden on Leadership, p. 162)

3. Teach Good Habits. Steve Jamison says that the key to Wooden’s winning championships is that he was great at teaching good habits. (Wooden on Leadership, p. xi-xii) A band director I know in Long Beach, CA, Chris Stevens, says, “Practice does not make perfect, practice makes habit.”

4. Focus Teaching Comments on How to Do Things Better. A study in the 1970’s of Wooden’s utterances during coaching found that only 6% were praises and 6% were reproofs. The study reported that 75% of his utterances were instructional in nature. (Originally found at http://ronaldgallimore.com/resources/GallimoreTharp2004.pdf, p. 127-128  – a similar report is found here)

5. Focus on Fundamentals. Constantly work on basics. “There is no replacement for sound fundamentals and strict discipline.” (They Call Me Coach, p. 168)

6. Little Things Make Big Things Happen. Identify relevant details and accomplish them at a very high standard of performance. (Wooden on Leadership, p. 135)

7. Keep it Simple.

8. Model Expected Behaviors. Make every effort to match practice to precept. Wooden says, “Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. Youngsters need good role models more than they need critics.” (Quotable Wooden, p. 98)

9. Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry. Wooden says, “If you hurry, you’re more likely to make mistakes; but if you’re not quick, you won’t get things done.” (http://id3430.securedata.net/teamarete/10tipstomanagement.html)

10. Develop Mental Toughness. John Wooden was very disciplined. Beneath his grandfatherly exterior was the heart of a lion. Wooden and his players’ mental toughness made them great.

11. Balance is Everything. Life is complicated and it’s easy to get out of balance. Keep things in proper perspective. (Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry!, p. 92)

12. Be Patient and Persistent. Coach Wooden developed his ideas and concepts over a long period of time – he spent fourteen years carefully crafting his Pyramid of Success. Wooden says, “Good things take time and that’s the way it should be.” (Wooden Video, Values, Victory and Peace of Mind)

ClarinetMike says, “Carefully study the ideas of Coach John Wooden. Check out the book Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry! by Andrew Hill/John Wooden plus the Wooden video mentioned above.”

Original Article © by The National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, NACWPI Journal, Vol. LVII, No. 4, Summer 2009

Thanks to NACWPI for kind permission and for being super cool!

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ClarinetMike 2020 Annual Report

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Here’s the 2020 Annual Report on my ClarinetMike Blog, ClarinetMike QuickTips, YouTube Videos, ClarinetMike QuickClips, Master Classes, Performances, and more.

  • The ClarinetMike Blog remains one of the top clarinet blogs on the Internet.  Google Search continues to report it as the #1 clarinet blog on a search of “clarinet blog.” Also, the ClarinetMike Blog is again listed as the #1 clarinet blog on the website, Top 20 Clarinet Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2020 (updated December 23, 2020).
  • The ClarinetMike Blog featured 30 posts in 2020. There were 22,000+ views from 116+ countries on 6 continents with 34% of views outside the USA. (The blog did not get a view in 2020 from Vatican City as it did a few years ago!)
  • Posted 34 ClarinetMike QuickTips: 67,692 views, 10 ClarinetMike QuickClips: 11,388 views, and 9 ClarinetMike YouTube Videos: 2306 views — a total of 81,386 video views
  • ClarinetMike Blog + ClarinetMike Videos = 103,386 overall views.
  • Taught 85+ online and in person clarinet master classes and clinics in addition to private lessons.
  • Upper Midwest Tour 2020 in February [right before Covid!] featured recitals and master classes at the University of Michigan, University of Toledo, and Oakland University.
  • Gave 4 World Premieres in 2020 and performed at the NACWPI/College Music Society 2020 National Conference (virtual) as a soloist and with Duo 35 (with saxophonist Todd Oxford), appeared on the Ryan Anthony “Song of Hope” World Band Project, and performed as principal clarinetist with the new Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble.
  • Upcoming Events for 2021 and 2022 include the release of a new CD, Postcards from Silver Lake, return as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy, and a recital & master class tour of Israel.

ClarinetMike says, “Happy New Year! Hang In There!!”

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ClarinetMike Performs with Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble!

I’m Principal Clarinetist with a new group, the Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble. We recently recorded our inaugural concert that will be broadcast on YouTube here and simulcast on our DCWE Facebook page here this coming Sunday, January 3 at 7 pm cst. Join our official Facebook Group here to get all the latest on the DCWE! ClarinetMike says, “Check It Out!”

CONCERT:

Date: Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 7 pm CST [Monday, January 4, 1 am GMT/UTC]
Links: YouTube here and simulcast on DCWE Facebook page here 

WORKS:

Old Wine in New Bottles by Gordon Jacob

“Scherzo alla Marcia” from Symphony No. 8  by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Selections from The Danserye by Tielman Susato/Fred J. Allen

DCWE INFO:

The Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble is dedicated to performing the best in original literature for winds written by master composers. The Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble is comprised of professional players and teachers from the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and is committed to upholding the highest artistic standards while entertaining its audience in the virtual and live formats.

DCWE PERSONEL: 

Flute: Katelin Adams and Ana Hinojosa
Oboe: Abigail Hawthorne and Rashaad Calaham
Bassoon: Martin Wells and Miranda Macias
Clarinet: Michael Dean and Nicholas Dickinson
Trumpet: Luke Wingfield and Ryan Albert
Horn: Rachelle Huffman, Jordan Doss, Lauren Vandergriff, and Rodolfo Castro
Trombone: Jacob Muzquiz, Tim Wight, and Alex Castro
Conductor: Reagan Brumley

DCWE MEDIA:

Join our official Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble Facebook Group here to get all the latest on the DCWE!

Click HERE to see a YouTube video about the upcoming concert featuring Reagan Brumley, conductor of the Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble!

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7 Time Management Tips

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

1. Get a Plan, Man! Get some kind of 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.

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 unexpected visitors when they call or drop by your office/practice room to just “chat.”

5. Help! I Need Somebody. 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. I Can Resist Anything Except Temptation. 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 if your college football team has a new head coach.

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, “Read through these tips again, put your phone away, and then plan the rest of your day.”

The above is a modified version of information from my 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.

ClarinetMike Extra: #2 click here, #5 The Beatles, and #6 Oscar Wilde

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