ClarinetMike’s “Rhy-No Practice Technique”

“I love Rhy-No Practice!”

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

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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5 Responses to ClarinetMike’s “Rhy-No Practice Technique”

  1. Pingback: “Feed The Rhy-No!” [Very Important Update on ClarinetMike’s Rhy-No Practice Technique] | ClarinetMike Blog

  2. Pingback: 7 Ways to Improve Your Clarinet Playing This Summer! | ClarinetMike Blog

  3. Pingback: 10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything! | ClarinetMike Blog

  4. Pingback: 7 Tricks For Clarinet Teachers | ClarinetMike Blog

  5. Pingback: Practice Tip: “I Will Clap The Music Every Day!” | ClarinetMike Blog

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