ClarinetMike’s 7 Rules for Building Great Musicians

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Happy New Year! The below 7 teaching rules are based on my own teaching philosophy. I  happily acknowledge the influence of my wonderful teachers, especially my private lesson teachers Jesse Youngblood, Carol Jessup, Philip Aaholm and Robert Walzel. In recent years, I’ve also been heavily influenced by master teachers John Wooden and Joe Allard.

ClarinetMike’s 7 Rules for Building Great Musicians by Dr. Michael Dean

1. Require Excellence. Push students to strive for genuine excellence. [This means they have to practice!]
2. Emphasize Fundamentals. Constantly stress important basics of good musicianship (relaxation, embouchure, articulation, how to practice, etc.). Teach good habits.
3. Highlight Artistry as of Paramount Importance. Emphasize technique as a means to musical expression, not as an end in itself. It’s all about MUSIC!
4. Personalize Instruction. Stay student-centered by working to fit pedagogical concepts to the specific needs of each student. Focus teaching comments on how to do things better.
5. Make Students Think.  Encourage logical and creative thinking. Ask questions. Be patient.
6. Be Reality-Based. Focus on practical concerns, not esoterica.  Teaching should have a view toward the future.
7. Model Desired Behaviors. Strive to be a good example. Work hard to improve and change.

FYI: Click here for an article I wrote on John Wooden’s ideas. Here’s a link to The Joe Allard Project. Also, click here for an article I wrote a few years ago on how to write a statement of educational philosophy.

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 returned 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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