“Unkink Your Hose!”

Does your airflow have kinks like the ClarinetMike Garden Hose?

A few years ago, the city of Hurst, Texas sent out some nice folks to put down new grass in my lawn where they had previously dug it up to fix a water line. As I got out the ClarinetMike Garden Hose to water the new grass in my lawn, I noticed a kink in the hose. So I made sure all the kinks and such were out of the hose and watered my lawn.

I realized this is similar to clarinet playing (and ALL wind instruments!). We need to make sure our air flows freely without any tension or “kinks” in our body.

ClarinetMike says, “Unkink Your Hose!”

Here’s the ClarinetMike Garden Hose working well after removing the kinks.

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Improve Clarinet Tone: The ABC Exercise!

ClarinetMike says, “The ABC Exercise is Easy and it Works! Check It Out!”

The ABC Exercise comes from my research into the amazing pedagogy of master single reed teacher, Joe Allard. I’ve experimented with The ABC Exercise (or ABC) on and off for a number of years. Recently, I’ve been consistently using it in my own practicing and with my students with much success.

Improve Clarinet Tone: The ABC Exercise!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

What? The ABC Exercise is simply saying the alphabet aloud a few times in a normal voice and then playing the clarinet. This very simple exercise always helps my embouchure and voicing.

When? I use ABC early in my daily Practice Routine as part of working on my embouchure and voicing. I often do ABC after going through the steps of the 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and the related E-Tips for E-Lips clarinet embouchure tips.

Why? So, why does ABC improve my tone? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. I think what is going on is that saying the alphabet gets me “in touch with things” with respect to my mouth, lips, tongue, teeth, face, etc. in embouchure and voicing.  For example, what do babies do when they learn to speak? They try to copy what they hear by experimenting with their voice using mouth, lips, tongue, teeth, face, etc. They start with “Dada” and end up smoothly using words to easily persuade soft-touch Dad to buy them things, “Hey Dad, I need $100 for …..”

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Note: Saying the Alphabet is mentioned in The Joe Allard Project website which features part of Debra McKim’s important dissertation on Joe Allard (see HERE). The ABC Exercise above features my own ideas and thoughts on a technique that Joe Allard taught. As was true on my previously published 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and E-Tips for E-Lips embouchure tips, I happily acknowledge a heavy debt to the great Joe Allard.

Extra: FYI, clarinet people, Joe Allard studied clarinet with Gaston Hamelin (Boston) for 4 years. Note that Hamelin’s famous student was Ralph McLane (Philadelphia) and McLane’s was Harold Wright (Boston). (All of these are famous for their great clarinet tone.)

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ClarinetMike to Perform on Livestream Recital, Saturday, May 30!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

NEWS! I’ll be performing Austin Ali’s recent work, Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski, on a FREE online recital over the Internet on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 7:30 pm CDT (12:30 am UTC/GMT). The live broadcast will be on the Internet HERE.

My performance will be part of Austin Ali’s senior recital at the University of Texas at Austin. The online recital will also feature other great music by this terrific young composer who was recently accepted into the graduate music composition program on full scholarship at UCLA!  Program Notes for my part of the recital are below.

ClarinetMike says, “On May 30 at 7:30 pm cdt, surf over and catch the concert online HERE.”

Program Notes:

Austin Ali’s Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski (2020) for solo clarinet was commissioned by Michael Dean. He premiered it at the University of Michigan and other venues on his February 2020 solo tour of Michigan and Ohio.

Austin Ali said, “Transposing a Feeling is dedicated in memory of Bailey Sikorski, who lost his life to a rare form of leukemia at age 21 in 2017. Bailey was one of the first friends I made during my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin. As my resident assistant, he kept us freshmen out of trouble. Fresh out of high school band, I was delighted to meet Bailey, a junior at the time and a fellow band kid. I quickly learned Bailey was an exceptionally talented clarinetist. He was extremely passionate about band and music, leading his high school as drum major. I also discovered Bailey’s passion for science and aspirations within UT Aerospace Engineering. Eventually, Bailey went on to design hardware and software at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company to be used in NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule to take humans to Mars. Bailey easily became a role model for me at UT. He showed me what a truly talented and motivated young person could accomplish.

“In a school interview, Bailey said, ‘…one dream I had for a really long time was to play in the New York Philharmonic or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I think music is really just another dimension of the human mind. It is truly a unique form of emotional self-expression, a way of transposing a feeling in a way that isn’t possible with words.’ Bailey’s words and memory still resonate with me today, inspiring me to compose Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski. If you listen to the piece, you’ll hear sweeping upward gestures on the clarinet as if they were reaching toward the sky. Bailey never stopped reaching for the stars. I hope with the help of this piece, he will be one step closer to reaching them.”

Austin Ali (born 1997) is an international award-winning composer, trumpet player, and conductor based in Austin, Texas. Musicians from Dallas, Texas, to Washington, DC, to Valencia, Spain have performed Austin’s music, including the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Spanish Brass, and Christopher Bill.  His composition mentors include Russell Podgorsek, Donald Grantham, Yevgeniy Sharlat, John Mills, and Christopher Trapani. In addition to composing, Austin loves to play the trumpet. Recently, he toured Guatemala and Costa Rica with the endlessly funky Big Wy’s Brass Band. The group performed as invited guests in an International Jazz Festival in Guatemala City and at a national parade in Limon, Costa Rica with an audience of 10,000 people. Austin served as the primary composer and arranger for the band’s two records Portal to Funkville and Lord Dope. Austin will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. This fall, Austin will pursue graduate work in music composition on full scholarship at UCLA in Los Angeles, California under the mentorship of noted composers Richard Danielpour and Ian Krouse.

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 Southwestern MusicianWINDPLAYERThe Bandmasters’ Review 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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7 Ways to Improve Your Practicing

ClarinetMike practicing at the Scuola di musica Vipiteno at the Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy.

Here’s some tips that will help you make the most of your practice sessions.

7 Ways to Improve Your Practicing by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Practice First. “Work expands to fill the time available.” (A time management maxim known as “Parkinson’s Law.”) This means if you wait to practice until you finish all your homework (or housework, etc.), then you won’t practice because you’ll run out of time. So, my suggestion is to practice first for at least one practice session before starting on other work. This way you’ll get at least some practice in every day.
  2. Let There Be Light. Make sure you have adequate light in your practice space. FYI, you should own a couple of stand lights and take them to your rehearsals and gigs. A stand light saved my neck the first time I performed in Italy at the Orfeo Music Festival. I played Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock in an amazing (but dark!) old church – La Chiesa di Santo Spirito, built in 1399!
  3. Care About the Chair. Get a good chair to sit in that is comfortable and the right height for you. Similarly, make sure you have a quality music stand that is adjustable.
  4. Straighten Up and Fly Right. Be sure you sit up or stand with good, relaxed posture – NO slouching, leaning over, leg crisscrossing, etc.
  5. No Fan of Fans. Do not have a ceiling fan (or similar) going above your head or near you while practicing. The fan will blow your sound around and you will not be able to accurately hear yourself.
  6. Turn Off The Phone! Limit distractions by turning off all beeps, buzzers, and bells on cellphones, tablets, laptops, computers, etc.
  7. No TV or Internet. Do not do something else while practicing. I know someone who warms up on his instrument while reading email every morning. Don’t do this.

ClarinetMike says, “Hang in there. Go practice right now.”

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7 Woodwind Doubling Tips

ClarinetMike testing flutes at TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention).

These tips are generally pointed toward doubling on clarinet, saxophone, and flute [my doubles]; however, I believe they also will be useful on double reeds. Further, I think the principles in the tips will generally be helpful on any instrument.

7 Woodwind Doubling Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Think Like a […….]. For example, if you are learning to double on the saxophone, “Think Like a Saxophonist.” This is the most important concept in learning to perform well on a new instrument. It is critical to learn how good performers on an instrument “think,” i.e. approach technical (and musical) issues, especially basics such as embouchure, posture, tonguing, etc. ClarinetMike says, “There’s nothing worse than hearing a clarinetist trying to play the saxophone like a clarinet!”
  2. Have a Goal. Having some kind of doubling goal (even if it’s flexible) will help you make decisions on how to spend your time practicing and studying a new instrument.
  3. Embouchure is Everything. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of good embouchure and voicing. Check out my clarinet embouchure and related clarinet embouchure tips. (The embouchure and related tips owe a heavy debt to master woodwind doubler and teacher Joe Allard.)
  4. Basics are Fundamental. Along with embouchure, focus lots of time on important fundamentals such as relaxation, posture, air/breathing, hand position, tonguing, sound projection, etc. Even though some of these concepts may be similar on your main instrument, make sure you use versions that address the particular needs of your new instrument.
  5. Learn Instrument Specifics. This refers to things like brands of instruments, mouthpieces, ligatures, neckstraps, headjoints, instrument care, music, etc. An area of special consideration should be reeds (this goes double for double reeds!).
  6. Seek out Good Instruction. Find a good teacher (or a good book/video) to guide you. Take some private lessons. [During this time of pandemic, I suggest taking some Skype lessons with a good private teacher. If you can’t find someone or aren’t sure who to ask, sent me an email or text and I’ll help you find someone.]
  7. Listen. Listen to various great performers to give you a sense of how you’d like to sound.
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Duo 35 in Miami, Florida! ClarinetMike and Saxophonist Todd Oxford to Perform at the NACWPI/CMS 2020 National Conference, October 22-24, 2020

ClarinetMike and Saxophonist Todd Oxford after a Duo 35 Concert in Alabama.

Saxophonist Todd Oxford and I (Duo 35) have been invited to perform at the National Conference of NACWPI (National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors) on October 22-24, 2020 at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, Florida! NACWPI will hold its conference in conjunction with the 2020 National Conferences of the College Music Society, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI), and Pi Kappa Lambda (PKL). Below is our accepted conference proposal that includes 2 World Premieres for clarinet and saxophone!

NACWPI/CMS 2020 will be the final leg of our Duo 35 Tour 2020 this fall! Watch for more Duo 35 Tour 2020 information coming soon!

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NACWPI 2020 National Conference/College Music Society
October 22-24, 2020
Hilton Miami Downtown, Miami, Florida USA

Michael Dean, clarinet (independent)
Todd Oxford, alto saxophone (Texas State University)

PROGRAM:

[Untitled] (clarinet and alto saxophone) (World Premiere) by Michael Schneider

Blue Caprice (solo alto saxophone) (1981) by Victor Morosco

Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski (solo clarinet) (2020) by Austin Ali

Garage Sale Llama (clarinet and alto saxophone) (World Premiere) by Jeffrey Hoover

BIO: Duo 35 is a dynamic chamber ensemble featuring Michael Dean on clarinet and Todd Oxford on saxophone. The Texas-based duo engages and entertains audiences with a fresh and versatile repertoire of mostly new music. Mike and Todd recently performed in Canada and at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Clinic/Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” performs and teaches internationally and across the USA. Dr. Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, Royal Northern College of Music, Eastman School of Music and the Orfeo Music Festival, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Canada, Spain, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. His professional website is clarinetmike.com.

Todd Oxford has appeared as a concert artist, recording artist and on radio and television in Europe, Asia, Mexico, Canada, and across the USA. Recent engagements include Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, CAMI Hall in New York, and Texas Rangers Ballpark performing for 30,000 fans. He is Associate Professor of Saxophone at Texas State University. His professional website is toddoxfordsaxophonist.com.

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ClarinetMike says, “Saxophonist Todd Oxford will also be performing a solo recital at this Mega-Conference as part of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction’s (ATMI) National Conference! Hey Now!!”

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7 Time Management Tips: Coronavirus “Stay-At-Home” Edition

ClarinetMike with Orfeo colleague Clarence Padilla and clarinet students in downtown Vipiteno, Italy at the international Orfeo Music Festival 2019.

With all the “Stay-At-Home” orders due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, many have found themselves saying, “I have loads of time, but can’t get anything done!” So, I rewrote some of my time management tips with adjustments for our current situation.

7 Time Management Tips: Coronavirus “Stay-At-Home” Edition
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1.  I Got Rhythm! Work hard to have good sleep/wake habits, i.e. “rhythm.” The endless “Spring Break” can really throw us off. [We need to work on Rhythm Changes!]

2. Mom is Right! Exercise/Eat Right/Sleep 7-8 hours every night. “Every hour of sleep before midnight counts as two” is a good old rule to follow.

3. Goal! Do some goal-setting. One or two things actually accomplished is better than ten things not done.

4. Get a Plan, Man! Get some kind of plan and DO IT! I have found that having a plan and following it (even if it’s a so-so plan) results in great success.

5. Just Do It! Be disciplined. The more you are disciplined, the more disciplined you will
become.

6. Phone NO! Practice/study/work without interruptions as much as possible. Don’t look at that phone! Turn it off.

7. Hey, How’s It Going? Handle texts, email, Facebook messages, regular mail, etc. only once. Read/act on it now or later (not both!). However, ALL messages should be answered within 24 hours.

ClarinetMike says, “Get off Facebook, Go Practice.”

The above is a modified version of information from my article, “Basic Time Management” © by The National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors NACWPI Journal, Vol. XLVI, No. 3, spring 1998. Thanks to NACWPI for kind permission.

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Practice Tip: “Practice with a Practice Routine”

ClarinetMike practicing last summer at Orfeo Music Festival 2019 in Vipitenio, Italy.

Below is the Practice Routine I use and teach. Don’t feel obligated to hit every single item below every day. Use your creativity and common sense to rotate things around in a routine of Basics, Scales, and Music – this is how I use the routine below in my own practice. However, always work on relaxation & posture, embouchure & voicing, tonguing, chromatic scale, and sight-reading.

ClarinetMike says, “The point of all these basics is to help you (and me!) play music better!”

Clarinet Power! Practice Routine
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Texas, USA * 682-888-7639 * clarinetmike.com
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

Warm-up/Basics

Relaxation & Posture/Air

Tone (Embouchure & Voicing)

Long Tones (Sound Projection)

Tonguing

Various Exercises (Over The Break, Overtones, High C, High Notes, Legato Fingers,                                                          Tuning, Reeds, etc.)

 Scales

Chromatic

Major & Minor plus Arpeggios

Fully Diminished 7th Chords

Others (Whole-tone, Octatonic (a.k.a. Diminished), related to a work, etc.)

Music

Sight-reading/Transposition

Etudes/Studies

Solos

Excerpts (Band, Orchestra, Chamber, etc.)

Improvisation/Jazz

Doubles

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5 Brilliant New Clarinet Works to Check Out!

Pianist Dena Kay Jones and ClarinetMike with composer Raymond Head after the World Premiere of his Small Voice of Calm at the Orfeo Music Festival 2018 in Vipiteno, Italy.

Here’s five super cool new clarinet works that would make excellent projects to work on during the coming weeks (or more) of being at home during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. ClarinetMike says, “Check ’em out!”

1. Summer Sunrise on the Mississippi (clarinet and media) (2009) by Robert Fruehwald.

The sheet music and media accompaniment for Summer Sunrise are available for FREE from the composer here. Information on this work is available here.

2. Small Voice of Calm (clarinet and piano) (2018) by Raymond Head.

The sheet music and information on Small Voice of Calm is available here.

3. Filtrò poi una luce (clarinet and piano or media) (2011) by Andrea Ferrante.

The sheet music for Filtrò is available for FREE here. Here’s a blurb on it:

Filtrò poi una luce roughly translates as “filtering of the light.” In a Facebook message to me on the meaning of the title, Andrea said, “As when [in] the morning a ray of sun enters from the window of your room… softly.”

I have a special version for clarinet and media (as in the video above) that I helped cook up (with the composer’s permission). If you want a copy, let me know.

[NOTE: That is me performing above and on the other videos on this post. CD Baby or somebody has confused me with a bass-baritone at UCLA named Michael Dean – maybe we should do a concert together!]

4. September (clarinet and media) (2007) by Jeffrey Hoover.

The composer is making the sheet music and media accompaniment for September FREE during this time of pandemic. [Thanks Jeff!] Contact Jeffrey Hoover directly at jeffreyhoovercomposer@gmail.com or here. Here’s a blurb on the work:

Jeffrey Hoover says, “September has always been a month of change and transition – a time when nature embraces both summer and fall, and life unfolds in new ways for individuals and society. The music of September is set in two related and contrasting sections: music of thoughtful reflection and music of engaging the present. The sound and music of September posses an autumnal quality, while spanning the psychological and emotional gap between the sound of memories and the music of now.” September (for clarinet & media) by Jeffrey Hoover was commissioned by Michael Dean and appears on the CD, Desertscape: New Music For Clarinet.

5. Stuff: Theme with Seven Variations (clarinet alone) (2001) by James Grant.

The sheet music and information about Stuff are available here.

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Free Skype Clarinet Lessons With ClarinetMike

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

To help out students stuck at home due to coronavirus school and university closings and to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of this ClarinetMike Blog, I’ve decided to offer free Skype clarinet lessons for the rest of the month of March. I will also offer them at a reduced rate for the months of April and May on a case by case basis.

ClarinetMike says, “If you are stuck at home, you have plenty of time to practice!”

Equipment. Skype lesson students need a computer with a good internet connection, webcam with microphone, and free Skype app. (I can help you figure it out – it’s easy!)

Information. For information on Skype Lessons with ClarinetMike, just send me an email or give me a call or text – CLICK HERE.

BIO: 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 Canada, Italy, Spain, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. In 2019, he returned to 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 Southwestern Musician, WINDPLAYER, The Bandmasters’ Review 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.

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