ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Tips: The Rhy-No Practice Technique



"I love Rhy-No Practice!"

“I love Rhy-No Practice!”

[Below is a slightly revised version of a previous blog post.] 

The Rhy-No Practice Technique

Student Phyllis: “Dr. ClarinetMike! The All-State Music is hard! I don’t know how to work on it!”

ClarinetMike: “Don’t panic Phyllis. Just spend quality time with the Practice Rhy-No.”

One of the most important things that a music teacher needs to do is teach students how practice and prepare music. A year and a half ago I came up with a simple system: The Rhy-No Practice Technique. Since then, I have found this system to be very useful and effective in my students (and my own!) music preparation. (FYI, here’s some of my other practice ideas and a video.)

The system is simple – just break a short passage into two parts: rhythm and notes. Work on each separately and slowly, and then put them together. Hence, Rhythm-Notes or Rhy-No Practice!

Here’s how Rhy-No Practice works:

1. Pick out a hard passage – a measure or two.

2. Clap, sing, yodel (only yodel alone!) etc. the rhythm of the passage. Go as slow as needed to accurately learn the counting. A metronome is essential, of course. Gradually increase the tempo until the rhythm is correctly ingrained at desired speed.

3. Play the notes of the passage out of time very slowly and deliberately. (If students don’t understand this, just have them play all notes as slow half notes.) Concentrate on finger movement, tone quality, note connections, etc.  Repeat several times making sure that all notes speak well and there no breaks in sound – esp. “Over The Break.”

4. Play the passage with rhythm and notes combined.

It seems to help my students to sing the music as best they can after Step 3 above, i.e. before playing it in Step 4.  When demonstrating this in lessons, students are often shy to sing. So, I sing with them loudly. This generally encourages them to sing, at least a little!

Also, freely combine the Rhy-No technique with other practice methods (see hyperlinks above). Also, try to include dynamics as much as possible.

NOTE: The above image is from




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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9 Responses to ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Tips: The Rhy-No Practice Technique

  1. Dr. Prof. Edward Charles. says:

    Good advice, thank you Doctor Mike.

    Interesting to note that of your family, only the dog has a name.
    Perhaps, like my family, it’s a waste of time naming others, as the dog is the only one that comes when called!!!

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