ClarinetMike’s “Rhy-No Practice Technique”
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
Kirk: “Hey ClarinetMike! The UIL Contest Music is hard! I don’t know how to work on it!”
ClarinetMike: “Kirk, don’t panic [or go to red alert]. 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 very 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 should be used wisely, 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 the 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.
Don’t skip over the singing in Step 4 above. Singing really seems to help my students. 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.
ClarinetMike says, “Rhy-No Practice begins with Rhythm. And, if you only work on Notes, all you have is ‘NO.'”
NOTE: The above image is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ceratotherium_simum_kwh_2.jpg