Etude No. 3 “The Caprice” Preparation Tips: ClarinetMike’s 2018-2019 Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Clinic

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Below are my complete clinic notes on Etude No. 3 “The Caprice” from this year’s Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Etudes. Click here to view my recently-posted notes on Etude No. 1 and here for notes on Etude No. 2 “The Slow Etude.” Check out my previous posts on the all-state etudes: Click HERE.

ClarinetMike’s Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Clinic 2018-2019
Soprano Clarinet Preparation Tips: Etude No. 3 “The Caprice”
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Texas, USA * 682-888-7639 *

Etude Book: David Hite editor, Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School [Rose Etudes] Published by Southern Music Co. (For official TMEA listing, Click HERE.)

Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments. He “clarinetized” them.

Practice Tip: Load only accurate rhythms and notes by using Rhy-No Practice Technique with BOLD Dynamics: Click HERE and HERE.

Etude 3 Allegro un poco vivace, Page: 88-89, Etude Title: 9 Caprices, No. 6, Tempo: Dotted Quarter Note = 58-68. Play from beginning to Measure 79. Errata: CLICK HERE (Be sure to number the first measure as Measure Zero*.)

Composer and Style: This Rose etude is based on a Caprice by French violinist and composer Pierre Rode (1774-1830) from his 24 Caprices for Violin click here to view the original etude (#15). These etudes are an important staple in the training of violinists. Contemporary violinist Axel Strauss says about this etude, “In this lively and dance-like piece use a light detaché for the 16th notes and an elastic martelé stroke for the eighth notes….Count in one rather than in three to emphasize the dance quality of the rhythm.” (cite) Also, notice that the original etude was marked Vivace assai, “Very Lively, Full of Life.” Go with Rode on this and play “Full of Life” on this etude. [ClarinetMike says, “I’ve noticed over the years that often when there is a poco, “a little,” on something, forget about doing it a little, do it a lot!”]

Caprice: The dictionary defines “Caprice” as a “sudden whim or fancy.” Musical “Caprices” composed during Rode’s time were often written in a lively and playful “style of fast, evenly moving, light staccato figuration.” (Randel, New Harvard Dictionary of Music, 139)

Overview: Perform this virtuosic Caprice with a beautiful tone, accurate rhythm, and extreme dynamics. Relaxed hands and body are vital. There are 2 issues: 1) Solid Basics of Relaxation, Tone, Articulation, and Rhythm 2) Capricious Style that is lively, playful, impulsive, unpredictable, and fun!

Sections and Phrases: Etude breaks into 2 Sections: S1 = m0*-31 and S2 =m32-m79 (end of selection). Phrases are a little “capricious,” but here’s a suggestion: The Phrases for Section 1 (S1) are P1 = m0*-m6, P2 = m7-m12, P3 = m12-m16, P4 = m16-m21, P5 = m22-m31 AND The Phrases for Section 2 (S2) are P6 = m32-m42, P7 = m43-m46, P8 = m47-m54, P9 = m55-m64, P10 = m65-m72, P11 = m73-m79.

Problem Passages: Wide leaps as in m2, m3, m4 etc. are tricky. The rhythm in m7 is used a lot; it must be correct every time. S2 features all 3 fully diminished 7th arpeggios – identify these and mark them on your music. (Clarinetists should work on fully diminished arpeggios every day just like we do chromatic and major and minor scales/arpeggios). There are also some measures in S2 with unusual accidentals. Work these out carefully. Watch for measures that repeat – this will help A LOT!

Musical Issues: Play with LOTS OF DYNAMIC CONTRAST! Keep style light and play like a violinist – as Strauss indicated above, think “Dance.” At m7 play piano (soft) at beginning of measure. Virtuosity is an important part of the etude, but as a friend of mine says, “Don’t play anything faster than you can play it.”

Technical IssuesTrills: One trill only on each trill in m3 and m5. Fingerings: NO resonance fingerings or right hand down on throat tones in fast passages, this slows down and dirties up the technique. (Band Directors, take note for further reference click here.)  Articulation: Be sure to tongue and slur in the correct places – don’t blow this off! Notice that no sixteenths are marked staccato – take the staccatos off of m55-m59. Play articulated sixteenths with a light tongue stoke without separation. The staccato eight notes (as in m2, m3, m4 etc. ) should only be slightly separated, think “detached.” Think Violin! {As in Etude 1, check out this ClarinetMike Trick: In the slow preparation of any fast short-articulated or staccato type passage, DO NOT practice it slowly with the staccatos short. In other words, when you practice slowly, play the articulation with a mostly normal or regular tongue stroke with not much, if any, separation. As you go faster over time and the passage becomes ingrained and learned, it will be easy to adjust the length of the articulation to the desired shortness. Be sure to use your ears to help you decide how short to play the notes. Playing the notes too short can sound bad.}

Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet: Scales: Bb major. Arpeggios: Bb major (Bb D F), F7 (F A C Eb), G7 (G B D F), C minor 7 (C Eb G Bb), C7 (C E G Bb), E diminished (E G Bb), E fully diminished 7th (E G Bb C#), F fully diminished 7th (F, Ab, B, D), F# fully diminished 7th (F# A C Eb),

Breathing: As marked and needed – stop and breathe. Be sure to get back to tempo after stopping.

Other: It takes time for this capricious etude to sound “normal.” Work on this etude at every practice session.

Suggested Listening: Listen to ALL of the Rode Caprices in their original violin versions for style, click here. (NOTE: Do not just listen to our etude over and over and just copy without preparing it carefully. You will sound terrible.)

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 will again return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival 2019. 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. Dr. Dean has given more than 500 clinics, master classes and performances at high schools, universities, conferences and other venues. For 11 years he was a clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony and he's also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. His articles appear in journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, NACWPI Journal and The Bandmasters' Review. As "ClarinetMike," he writes for his widely-viewed ClarinetMike Blog, the Internet’s #1 clarinet blog read in 150 countries on 6 continents: After a successful 25 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas 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, and Bob Ackerman. 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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