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

Carnegie Hall, Eastman, Royal Northern College of Music, NACWPI, and ClarinetFest recital and master class appearances headline Dr. Michael Dean’s extensive and versatile career. He is featured on four commercial CD’s: Mysteries, Desertscape: New Music for Clarinet, Woodwind Music of Robert Fruehwald, Vol. 1, and Red Mesa Trio. Two more CD releases featuring Michael Dean are upcoming: a second CD of Fruehwald's music for woodwinds (Vol. 2) (2014/15) and a new solo CD, Postcards from Silver Lake (2015/16).... He has performed with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra, Nevada Symphony Orchestra, Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Garland Symphony Orchestra, Mesquite Symphony Orchestra, Southeast Chamber Players, and the Red Mesa Trio. He recently performed for 11 years with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra.... His articles have appeared in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal, and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he actively writes for his own widely-read clarinet blog, Michael Dean is an active clarinet performer, teacher, and consultant based in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Metroplex. He was recently a tenured Associate Professor of Clarinet for 11 years at Southeast Missouri State University. He returned to his native Texas in 2012 due to family illness. He maintains a large private clarinet studio in L.D. Bell Cluster (HEB) and Grapevine-Colleyville. 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, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at Arlington. His web page,, features video and audio of his teaching and performing as well as information on his CD's and other publications. He lives in Hurst, Texas with his wife, two children, and golden retriever, Andy.
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4 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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