ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #26 “The Fast Way!”

"The Fast Way"

Practice “The Fast Way!”

[NOTE: This idea is adapted from an excellent clinic that I heard noted saxophonist James Houlik give at a TMEA Clinic/Convention years ago.]

ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #26 “The Fast Way!”

All-Region Auditions in a week? Music Jury coming up? BIG Guest Recital in a couple of months and want to make sure you are ready? Well, ClarinetMike is here to help! Below is a simple practice technique that I call “The Fast Way!” (FYI, this works great in Rhy-No Practice.)

“The Fast Way!” Practice Technique in 4 Easy Steps:

1. Pick out a measure that needs work.

2. Play the first two notes in the measure slowly in half notes without rhythms. Go back and forth slowly in half notes between these first two notes – play 3-5 times. Make sure the finger movement is absolutely “clean,” i.e. relaxed, efficient, accurate, and quick. As in all practice, be sure to do this with GREAT fundamentals such as confidence, relaxation, air, body position, tone, etc.

3. Repeat Step 2 with the second and third notes in the measure. Then play notes one, two, and three in a row slowly – this is sometimes called “Add A Note.” Again, do not play any rhythms, just half notes working on “clean” finger combinations.

3A. “The Faster Way!” Alternate Method: Repeat Step 2 with the second and third notes in the measure. But, instead of  the “Add A Note” approach, just continue with the third and fourth notes, then fourth and fifth, fifth and sixth, etc. all in half notes.

4. Keep adding notes as in Step 3 (or 3A) until the measure is complete. Then go back and play the measure normally and see what happens! (As mentioned above, this becomes even more powerful if used in Rhy-No Practice.)

The goal of this technique is to learn (or LOADonly accurate information. When a clarinetist practices too fast, carelessly, etc., some inaccurate information is almost certainly engrained and this very much slows the learning process. (See the article by Frank R. Wilson on this.)

ClarinetMike says, “Want to learn music in a hurry? Then STOP and practice ‘The Fast Way!'”




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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13 Responses to ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #26 “The Fast Way!”

  1. chbade says:

    excellent practice technique – it is also called, “add a note”; by the way, this process can also be played in reverse (and with the same guidelines) which can further embed proper fundamentals and also stimulate the brain as the concentration to read and implement skills “backwards” does wonders
    C. Bade

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