Here are 10 general practice tips for preparing the All-State etudes, solos, or any music. I have marked a few spots, Bad Pedagogy, to indicate opportunities for teachers to upgrade their instruction.
10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
- Go Slow. Load correct information only! Go slow and learn the rhythm and notes correctly the first time and every time.
- MORE Go Slow. Generally, begin work on an etude by counting in eighth notes. This means twice as slow or three times as slow if in 6/8 — one eighth note gets one beat, one quarter note gets two counts, dotted quarter note gets three counts, etc.
- DYNAMICS! DYNAMICS!, DYNAMICS!!, DYNAMICS!!! every step of the way! Learn dynamics as you learn the rhythm and notes. Adding dynamics later does NOT work very well. [Dynamics Later = Bad Pedagogy]
- Learn Ornaments From the Start. Do not put off the ornaments until later! In preparing the etude, YOU MUST learn it the right way slowly from the beginning or very soon after starting! DO NOT skip grace notes, trills, turns, etc. and think you will add those at a later time. BAD IDEA! Your “muscle memory” will be messed up and you’ll be relearning those spots forever. [Ornaments Later = Bad Pedagogy]
- Performance Tone. Learn etude with a “performance tone,” not a “practice tone.” In fact, never use a “practice tone.” [This idea comes from the Note Grouping video below.] A bad tone always sounds…BAD!
- Practice Routine. Work on basics and scales every day as you work on the all-state etudes, solos, etc. Use an organized Practice Routine. Put special attention on tonguing every day.
- Sight-Reading. Do some sight-reading (and work on other music) every day to keep your playing fresh.
- Metronome. The metronome is a valuable tool and should be used a lot. However, do not use it 100% of the time when you practice an all-state etude, solo, etc. Do not get “Metronome Addiction.” This is where a person can play an etude or solo well only with a metronome. Common Sense is also a valuable tool! [Metronome Overuse = Bad Pedagogy]
- Practice Rhy-No. Check out Rhy-No Practice, Feed The Rhy-No, The Fast Way, and other practice techniques from this blog – Click Here.
- Note Grouping. The Note Grouping Concept works great for fast passages. It is described in a Note Grouping video featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Nathan Cole HERE.
ClarinetMike says, “Use these tips to help you enjoy the grace of making music.”