ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: The Rhy-No Practice Technique

"I love Rhy-No Practice!"

Clarinet Mike says, “Spend quality time with the Practice Rhy-No!”

The Rhy-No Practice Technique

Phyllis: “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 to teach students how to practice and prepare music. A few years ago I came up with a simple system: The Rhy-No Practice Technique. Originally designed for young students, I have found this technique to be very helpful with all my students’ (and my own!) music preparation.

The system is simple – just break a short passage into two parts: rhythm and notes. Work on each part 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 (or sing) the rhythm of the passage. Go as slowly as needed to accurately learn the counting. A metronome is essential, of course.

3. Play the notes of the passage without rhythm very slowly and deliberately.(If students don’t understand this, just have them play all notes as slow steady half notes.) Concentrate on finger movement, tone quality, note connections, etc.  Repeat several times making sure that all notes speak well and there are no breaks in sound – esp. “Over The Break.”

4. Sing, then Play the passage with rhythm and notes combined as written.

It seems to help my students to sing the passage as best they can after Step 3 above, i.e. before playing it in Step 4.  Make sure students at least get the rhythm correct when singing – singing on pitch is not important here. When doing this in lessons, some students are often shy to sing. So, I sing with them loudly. This generally encourages them to sing, at least a little!

I strongly encourage you to freely combine the Rhy-No Practice Technique with other practice methods. Also, make sure to include dynamics as much as possible.

NOTE: The above image is from

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

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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14 Responses to ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: The Rhy-No Practice Technique

  1. Tom says:

    Thx Mike for this terrific insight. A great way for students to attack any new project. All we have to do is to be careful not to be gored by the huge horn of the rhino in the process. LOL

    Sent from my iPhone


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