ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #33 Reflection – What did I learn today?

Dr. Michael Dean Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting “Building Great Clarinetists”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
“Building Great Clarinetists”

Since this is the end of December, I thought it might be good to consider the final bulleted item from my recent post, ClarinetMike’s Performing Checklist:

  • Reflection. What did I learn today?

It can be very helpful to do some reflection after a big audition, performance, etc. High school students here in Texas completed the all-region auditions a few weeks ago. College and university music students have recently taken music juries. A large number of professional clarinetists have just finished Christmas gigs.

Obviously, many will want to know, “How can I do better at the all-region audition?” or ‘What went wrong at the jury?” or “Is my check in the mail?” And these are excellent questions. However, I think it is also important to work to figure out what went well and why (so you can do it again!).

The legendary coach and master teacher, John Wooden, once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” (See here.) Wooden also said, “There is no progress without change.” (See here.)

A story from my own career: A few years ago I gave a clinic on teaching the clarinet at a huge state band conference. I very much wanted the clinic to go well and carefully prepared. I even got into the conference room the day before and practiced giving some of the lecture to the empty room (always a good idea). The day for the clinic came and I did my best. I got some positive feedback, but I felt that the presentation had not gone as well as it could have or should have – just ok, not great. [According to my hero, John Wooden, YOUR BEST EFFORT IS SUCCESS and I agree with him, but I’ll leave that for now, see here, fyi. Also, check out a Wooden article I wrote here.]

Feeling concerned about the presentation, I later sat down with a piece of paper and wrote out some things I could have done better. For example, one thing I realized is that I was too concerned with being on camera. I had videotaped the presentation as I wanted to put video clips on my website. I was so concerned with “being in the shot” that I did not connect with the audience enough and other such things.

A few years later, I spoke at an even larger state music conference on clarinet teaching and I was as good as I’ve ever been. At least some of the success of that clinic was due to what I had learned from the earlier one.

ClarinetMike says, “Take some time to reflect. What do you need to change? Do it.”

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 Italy, Spain, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. In July, he will return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at Orfeo Music Festival 2018. 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. He's performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He performed for 11 years with the Paducah Symphony. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-read ClarinetMike Blog, in 150 countries on 6 continents. 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 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, Bob Ackerman, and Pam Youngblood. 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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One Response to ClarinetMike’s 101 Clarinet Tips: #33 Reflection – What did I learn today?

  1. ClarinetMike says, “Take some time to reflect. What do you need to change? Do it.”

    Thanks for your words of wisdom. Indeed, we need some time to reflect and see if things are doing according to our plan. I have read a book saying not to “marry the strategy” instead change if there’s a need to do so to achieve the desired results. 😉

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