ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide

ClarinetMike teaching a clarinet master class at the University of Michigan in February 2020.

Here in Texas, the TMEA high school all-state band audition music is soon to be released. Plus, ATSSB students are already busily working away on their audition music. Below is a five-step guide to preparing the all-state materials.  The steps below are loaded with information from my ClarinetMike All-State Clarinet Clinics (click here).  Watch this blog for more All-State help from ClarinetMike!

UPDATE from Texas TMEA: The 2020–2021 TMEA All-State Band Audition Etude listing will be available Monday, July 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM. The date has been moved up due to the TBA Virtual Convention.

ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

Step 1: Preliminary Concerns

  1. Get quality equipment. FYI, my Bb soprano clarinet set up: Buffet R13 clarinet [1974], Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece, Vandoren V12 3.5 or D’Addario Reserve Classic 3.5 reeds, BG Super Revelation ligature, metronome/tuner, GEM swab, ReedGeek, etc.
  2. Find a good private teacher who teaches solid basics and expressive musical style. Stay away from Rote-Only Teachers and YouTube Videos. [Don’t just copy a recording. Learn to count! Rote-only playing will NOT get you past a good university audition.]

Step 2: Core Concepts

  1. It’s All About the MUSIC. So, work on ARTC Basics & ARTSY Musical Style (Phrasing, especially Romantic Era Style)
  2. Loading & Unloading. Slow Careful Practice = Speedy, Confident Performing. The Tortoise and the Hare – Be a Turtle! (See Frank R. Wilson)
  3. Focus on What You Control: Preparation & Effort. Success, John Wooden, etc.
  4. Genuine Excellence = Talent × Practice Time × Practice Quality.
  5. Power of Habit. Work on Basics (ARTC) & Scales, along with the All-State Music in a Practice Routine.

Step 3: General Preparation Tips

  1. Practice and perform only on good reeds.
  2. Use a metronome and tuner.
  3. Record yourself – check out phone apps!
  4. BOLD Dynamics.
  5. Sound Projection
  6. Plan and mark breathing carefully.
  7. Understand terms, notation, ornaments, etc. that are on the etudes.
  8. Create a cheat sheet. Write each etude’s scales and arpeggios at top of music.
  9. Clap and sing the music.
  10. Check out additional Practice Tips.

Step 4: Scale Preparation Tips

  1. Thoroughly prepare your scales as if they were etudes or solos. Don’t just run through them quickly and thoughtlessly. Careful preparation of scales with good fundamentals (relaxation, tone, counting, etc.) will pay big rewards not only on the scales themselves, but also on the all-state etudes and all the music you play since they are built on scales.
  2. Work on scales in an organized practice routine that includes basics, sight-reading, etc.
  3. Practice a scale all slurred first, then work on the tongued version. Slurring will allow you to hear how smooth (or not) the connections between notes are.
  4. Work on tonguing every day – check out my Basic Tonguing Exercise (BTE).
  5. Practice the chromatic scale every day. Many consider it to be the most important scale. I suggest starting your scale practice with it.
  6. Use a metronome. BUT, don’t use it 100% of the time – DO NOT get addicted to the metronome. Common Sense is your most important tool in preparation of scales and all-state music (and everything!).
  7. Work on cleanly going over The Break! This is often neglected and results in a lack of smoothness in the playing. The finger combinations for going over The Break are tricky and must be addressed every day by clarinetists at every level. Also, DO NOT use throat tone resonance fingers (or keeping right hand down, etc.) when doing scales. This will slow down and dirty the technique.
  8. Make sure you have good tone, relaxed body position, good hand position and finger movement, etc. as you learn the scales. Otherwise, you will be memorizing flaws that will be much harder to fix later.

Step 5: Etude Preparation Template

  1. Composer and Style
  2. Overview
  3. Tempo and Key
  4. Sections and Phrases
  5. Special Issues (repeated figure, etc.)
  6. Musical Issues
  7. Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.)
  8. Problem Passages
  9. Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet
  10. Breath Marks
  11. Other
  12. Suggested Listening

ClarinetMike says, “It’s all about music. So spend your time preparing to give a beautiful performance.”

About ClarinetMike

American Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” 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.” Dr. Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Royal Northern College of Music, and Eastman School of Music, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Spain, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He recently returned for a fourth summer to the beautiful Italian Alps of Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival. He is featured on 6 commercial CD’s including his soon-to-be-released new CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube. He was clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and he’s also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He has given more than 500 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, conservatories, conferences, festivals, high schools, junior high schools, and a diverse array of venues. As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his noted and widely-read ClarinetMike Blog – viewed in 150 countries on 6 continents, clarinetmike.wordpress.com. His blog is the #1 clarinet blog on the Internet according to Google Search and a recent ranking on Feedspot. His articles also appear in professional journals such as the Southwestern Musician, The Bandmasters’ Review, WINDPLAYER, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former officer on the National Board of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). After a successful 20 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is currently an active clarinet and woodwind performer, teacher, clinician, blogger, and consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Bob Ackerman, and Jess Youngblood. He is a BG France Performing Artist and his professional website is clarinetmike.com. Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.
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