Many, if not most, of the things we work on in our practicing take a lot of time and work just to get a little  better. Examples of this include relaxation, articulation, embouchure, etc. However,  there are a few things that can be easily added when working on a piece that pay big-time results with just a small amount of extra work.  One of these is:

Add Bold Dynamics. When working on a piece of music, add dynamics and phrasing at the same time as notes and rhythms.

Many think to themselves, “I’ll learn the music first, and then later I’ll add dynamics.” However the problem with this is that we always play at a dynamic level, even if it’s mezzo-whatever. So when a clarinetist learns a work at mezzo-whatever, the  mezzo-whatever dynamic is learned along the with notes. So, under the pressure of performance it is likely that a passage thus learned will be performed with little dynamic contrast.  So, learn the dynamics and phrasing as you go, don’t wait until later!

Further, the legendary Daniel Bonade would at times teach overdoing it on phrasing and dynamics. He felt that if the dynamics were overdone in the practice room, it would be about right on the concert stage. See his 16 Phrasing Studies (his edition of the slow etudes from the Rose 32 Etudes) for examples of this:

About ClarinetMike

American clarinetist MICHAEL DEAN performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise such as "world-class clarinetist and pedagogue," "consummate performer," "inspirational," "outstanding teacher," "super," "brilliant performer," and "one of the best clinicians I have ever seen." His career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Eastman School of Music, and Royal Northern College of Music with recent recitals and master classes in Canada, Italy, Spain, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. In July, he will again return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival 2019. He is featured on 5 commercial CD's and on New Media, such as YouTube. He is currently preparing another new clarinet CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. Dr. Dean has given more than 500 clinics, master classes and performances at high schools, universities, conferences and other venues. For 11 years he was a clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony and he's also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-viewed ClarinetMike Blog, the Internet’s #1 clarinet blog read in 150 countries on 6 continents: After a successful 25 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is a past president and former National Board officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Jess Youngblood, and Bob Ackerman. His web page,, features video of his teaching and performing as well as information on his CD's and other publications. He is a BG France Performing Artist.
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12 Responses to Practice Tip: ADD BOLD DYNAMICS!

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