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

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.
This entry was posted in All, All-State, ClarinetMike's Clarinet Teacher Tips, Performance & Pedagogy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 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


  2. Pingback: ClarinetMike’s Clarinet Teacher Tips: “Feed The Rhy-No!” | ClarinetMike Blog

  3. Pingback: Lecture Notes for ClarinetMike Presentation at Texas Clarinet Colloquium 2017! | ClarinetMike Blog

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