12 Leadership and Teaching Tips from John Wooden

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Recently here at ClarinetMike HQ, we have been discussing the leadership and teaching ideas of legendary basketball coach John Wooden. So, to tip-off my blog in 2021 with a little inspiration, I offer some tips from an article I wrote in the NACWPI Journal a few years ago based on my study of the works of Coach John Wooden.

Preparation and Effort: Tips on Applying John Wooden’s Concepts
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

1. Focus on Preparation and Effort. Spend your time working on what is under your control: your preparation and effort.

2. Work Hard and Plan Carefully. The first block of the Pyramid of Success says, “There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.” Wooden says, “I fully understood that the success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely.” (Wooden on Leadership, p. 162)

3. Teach Good Habits. Steve Jamison says that the key to Wooden’s winning championships is that he was great at teaching good habits. (Wooden on Leadership, p. xi-xii) A band director I know in Long Beach, CA, Chris Stevens, says, “Practice does not make perfect, practice makes habit.”

4. Focus Teaching Comments on How to Do Things Better. A study in the 1970’s of Wooden’s utterances during coaching found that only 6% were praises and 6% were reproofs. The study reported that 75% of his utterances were instructional in nature. (Originally found at http://ronaldgallimore.com/resources/GallimoreTharp2004.pdf, p. 127-128  – a similar report is found here)

5. Focus on Fundamentals. Constantly work on basics. “There is no replacement for sound fundamentals and strict discipline.” (They Call Me Coach, p. 168)

6. Little Things Make Big Things Happen. Identify relevant details and accomplish them at a very high standard of performance. (Wooden on Leadership, p. 135)

7. Keep it Simple.

8. Model Expected Behaviors. Make every effort to match practice to precept. Wooden says, “Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. Youngsters need good role models more than they need critics.” (Quotable Wooden, p. 98)

9. Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry. Wooden says, “If you hurry, you’re more likely to make mistakes; but if you’re not quick, you won’t get things done.” (http://id3430.securedata.net/teamarete/10tipstomanagement.html)

10. Develop Mental Toughness. John Wooden was very disciplined. Beneath his grandfatherly exterior was the heart of a lion. Wooden and his players’ mental toughness made them great.

11. Balance is Everything. Life is complicated and it’s easy to get out of balance. Keep things in proper perspective. (Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry!, p. 92)

12. Be Patient and Persistent. Coach Wooden developed his ideas and concepts over a long period of time – he spent fourteen years carefully crafting his Pyramid of Success. Wooden says, “Good things take time and that’s the way it should be.” (Wooden Video, Values, Victory and Peace of Mind)

ClarinetMike says, “Carefully study the ideas of Coach John Wooden. Check out the book Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry! by Andrew Hill/John Wooden plus the Wooden video mentioned above.”

Original Article © by The National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, NACWPI Journal, Vol. LVII, No. 4, Summer 2009

Thanks to NACWPI for kind permission and for being super cool!

About ClarinetMike

American Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise and acclaim 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. Michael 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, Canada, Spain, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He is currently planning an international recital and master class tour of Israel for spring 2022. He is on the faculty of the international Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence. Michael Dean performed with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and has also performed with the Dallas Chamber Wind Ensemble, Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Abilene Opera, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35 with saxophonist Todd Oxford. As a clarinet performing and recording artist, he has commissioned, premiered, edited, toured with, and recorded new and lesser-known clarinet works. He is featured on 6 commercial CDs, including the soon-to-be-released Postcards from Silver Lake CD. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube and Facebook. He has given more than 600 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, colleges, conservatories, festivals, conferences, and high schools. His ClarinetMike Blog and ClarinetMike QuickTips are widely read on the internet and social media and viewed in more than 150 countries on 6 continents. His articles also appear in professional journals such as Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, The Bandmasters’ Review, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former National Board Officer of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). A committed teacher and noted pedagogue, Dr. Dean’s students enjoy successful careers as professional performers, educators, and administrators and are consistently accepted into prestigious university music schools. They consistently win awards and distinctions at competitions and festivals including solo & ensemble, all-region, all-state, and various concerto and other competitions. After a successful 20 years of teaching the clarinet and music 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, 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, Philip Aaholm, Carol Jessup, and Jesse 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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