I LOVE SUMMER!! ClarinetMike’s 10 Great Clarinet Things To Do On Summer Break!

ClarinetMike relaxing on the balcony of a nice hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy…. I love summer! When I’m wearing shorts, I’m always in a good mood! Below is a follow-up on my recent post, 7 Ways to Upgrade Your Clarinet Playing This Summer!.

ClarinetMike’s 10 Great Clarinet Things To Do On Summer Break!

  1. Work on the improvements/adjustments in your clarinet technique that your teacher emphasized last semester (embouchure, tonguing, etc.) (See my related recent post.)
  2. Study an orchestra or band work you don’t know (or a solo, chamber work, etc.)
  3. Work on Etudes, Sight Reading and Transposition.
  4. Go to ClarinetFest 2017 or a concert – when was the last time you went to a LIVE concert just to enjoy the music?
  5. Clean out your clarinet case! Take clarinets to the repair shop.
  6. Organize your office and/or practice space!
  7. Contact an older musician – especially a retired private teacher or band director. Go have lunch with him/her.
  8. Watch old movies (check out TCM) and listen to the music. Learn about the composers. Some of them have written solo music for the clarinet!
  9. Work on Jazz or a style that is new to you. If you don’t know anything about jazz, now is the time to learn – yes, right now!
  10. Most importantly, take some time off and NOT think about the clarinet –  attend a religious or philosophical meeting, get some exercise, read a good book, go to a baseball game, become a volunteer in an organization that helps people, etc.

ClarinetMike says, “Have a great summer!”

NOTE: Above is a slightly modified version of a previous post.

Posted in All, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PROGRAM NOTES for Duo 35 Concert at IBCA! ClarinetMike and Saxophonist Todd Oxford Perform Friday, June 9 In Arlington, Texas

ClarinetMike says, “Hey! Come to our FREE concert! You’ll hear GREAT music and have fun!”

As previously posted (HERE) Saxophonist Todd Oxford and I will be playing a FREE concert on Friday, June 9, 2017 at the International Baptist Church of Arlington at 7:30 pm. Joining us on this recital will be pianist Michael Schneider and clarinetist Sean Reed.

Duo 35 IBCA Concert 2017 Program Notes

Postcards from Silver Lake (2010) Mark Carlson (b. 1952)

Mark_CarlsonComposer Mark Carlson‘s lyrical, emotionally powerful, and stylistically unique music has earned him the admiration of audiences and musicians throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. A versatile composer, his approximately 100 works include art songs, chamber music, choral music, concertos, other large ensemble works, and songs for musical theater.

The recipient of more than 50 commissions, he has been commissioned by the National Shrine in Washington, DC, and the New West Symphony, among other organizations, as well as by many individual musicians and private parties. One of his thirteen CDs, The Hall of Mirrors, was a winner of the Chamber Music America/WQXR Record Awards for 2001. His works Sueños y cancionesIntermezzoTwo BalladsSonata for Cello and PianoFor Those Silenced, On the Coming of War, and Night Music have all been released on CDs over the past few years.

A member of the music theory and composition faculty at UCLA for many years, he also taught for fifteen years at Santa Monica College and is active as a private teacher. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles chamber music ensemble Pacific Serenades. He recently retired as a flutist after a lifetime of performing primarily chamber music, much of which was written for him. His music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Pacific Serenades Music, C Swigart Music, Black Squirrel Music, and Thorpe Music.

Born in 1952 in Ft. Lewis, WA, Carlson grew up in California, attended the University of Redlands, graduated from CSU Fresno, and received MA and PhD degrees in composition from UCLA. His principal teachers were Alden Ashforth and Paul Reale (composition) and Roger Stevens (flute).

Postcards from Silver Lake was commissioned by clarinetist Gary Gray and premiered by him, along with saxophonist Douglas Masek and pianist Neal Stuhlberg.

“I have a long-standing friendship and composing relationship with Gary, having written my most-performed piece, The Hall of Mirrors, for him in 1990, as well as a half dozen others since.  All were written for performances by my chamber ensemble Pacific Serenades, so I was delighted that Gary asked me to write a piece all on his own, after he and Doug Masek had been discussing the need for music for this combination.

“Every time I write a new piece, I sketch a plethora of ideas, and some of those end up on the cutting room floor—not necessarily because I don’t like them, but because they just don’t fit in.  Those that I especially like I save for future use.  And so it was with the melodic material for this piece: each movement is based on material I had originally sketched for other pieces.  Since these ideas all came from different times, and because they are quite diverse stylistically, they felt to me like sketches of my life, and so I imagined them as musical postcards sent from my home in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.” – Mark Carlson

Celebratory (from Concerto) (2003) Charles Rochester Young (b. 1965 )                             
Charles Rochester Young has won high praises and honors for his work as a composer. His original compositions have been performed on 5 continents, in all 50 states, and in major halls of the US and Europe, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Thousands of known performances of his music have been heard around the globe. His works have been performed by members of most major orchestras in the US as well as some of the world’s foremost soloists and chamber ensembles. His works are widely published and recorded.

Dr. Young is a graduate of Baylor University and the University of Michigan. He held as his mentors Pulitzer-prize winner Leslie Bassett, Donald Sinta, Marianne Ploger, Bud Beyer and Keith Hill.  Dr. Young is the Coordinator of Musicianship and Director of the Computer Music Center at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Previously, Dr. Young served on the faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Dr. Young is an active presenter, clinician and guest composer around the nation.

Young’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble was commissioned and premiered by saxophonist Donald Sinta and the University of Michigan Symphony Band in 2003. The piano reduction performed today was done by the composer.

“Donald Sinta is a very special person in my life, who has profoundly influenced and shaped me as a person, artist and teacher. Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble was written as a “thank you” to him, and as a celebration of his distinguished performing and teaching career.” – Charles Rochester Young

Triple Mocha Indulgence (Chocolates) (2010) James Grant (b. 1954)

For over three decades, James Grant has been commissioned by individuals, choruses, chamber ensembles and orchestras who have performed his music throughout the world. He is a past first-prize winner of the Louisville Orchestra competition for new orchestral music and, in 2002, was one of five American composers to win the Aaron Copland Award.

Grant’s colorful musical language is known by musicians and audiences for its honed craft and immediacy, and his ability to compose music appropriate to specific levels of experience has found him working with groups ranging from professional orchestras, choruses, solo recitalists, new music ensembles and ballet companies to community choruses, university choral and instrumental ensembles, and youth orchestras. His music is regularly programmed at music festivals, symposia, and clinics; and his desire to compose new music for a given repertoire and specific instrumentation has led to many successful consortium commissions, a concept championed by the composer.

A dual-citizen of the United States and Canada, Grant and his wife, fine-art photographer Elizabeth Siegfried, live and work in Oxtongue Lake, Ontario, Canada and Sarasota, Florida, USA.

“Slow Jazz. Chocolates are jazzy torch songs in the tradition of the passionate, tuneful ballads of the American 1940s and 50s. Chocolates was commissioned by and is dedicated to violist Michelle La Course. The Chocolate served here, “Triple Mocha Indulgence,” is slightly less soul-searching than the other tasty treats in the work; it is more ebullient, and progressively becomes animated (a sugar high perhaps?) right up to its raucous close.”  – James Grant

Talking Pictures (1984) Amy Quate (b. 1953)

Amy_QuateComposer Amy Quate works in a wide variety of musical styles, forms, and media. Her career encompasses commissioned compositions, musical performing, computer music, computer graphics, audio and video technical work, and multi-media production. She has published both literary and musical compositions. For the Tenth World Saxophone Congress (September 1992, Pesaro, Italy), Professor Debra Richtmeyer, Vice President of the North American Saxophone Association, commissioned Ace of Swords, a work for alto saxophone, percussion and piano. Her instrumental compositions include an alto saxophone sonata commissioned for the Seventh World Saxophone Congress, Light of Sothis (1982, Leduc), Laguna Madre (1988, Leduc) for soprano saxophone, and several tuba solos published by CCP/Belwin.

In 1984, Amy Quate received the Grand Prize of the American Chamber Music Composition Competition for her soprano saxophone and clarinet suite, Talking Pictures, a piece commissioned for the grand opening of the Dallas Museum of Art. Quate’s university degrees are a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York), and a Master of Music in Composition from the University of North Texas.

Abyss of the Birds (Quartet) (1941) Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote the Quartet for the End of Time while a prisoner in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. The Quartet is inspired by an abridged passage from the book of Revelation in the Bible (Rev. 10:1-2; 5-7) On the 3rd movement, “Abyss of the Birds” for solo clarinet, Messiaen wrote:

“The abyss is Time with its sadness, its weariness. The birds are the opposite to Time; they are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant songs.”


The Easy Winners (1901) by Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

American composer and pianist Scott Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the “King of Ragtime Writers.” During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.

The Easy Winners (subtitled A Ragtime Two Step) is one of Joplin’s most popular works. It was one of the four that had been recorded as of 1940. The copyright for the original piano version was registered October 10, 1901. The Shattinger Music Company of St. Louis, Missouri bought the piece and published a simplified version. Only later did John Stillwell Stark publish it as written. This 1993 arrangement by Terry Kenny is from the Barrelhouse Party duet  collection published by Edition Darok.

NOTE: The images of Messiaen and Joplin above are in public domain and can be found HERE and HERE.

Posted in All, News, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Ways to Upgrade Your Clarinet Playing This Summer!

ClarinetMike says, “Take Clarinet Lessons!”

“Championships are won in the off-season.”

The above is true in the music world as in the sports world.  Summer is when our clarinet playing can make major strides and thus enable us to perform well in the fall at all-state competitions, recital hearings, chair placements, juries, and other auditions of various kinds. Below are 7 things a clarinetist could do to improve this summer.

  1. Take Clarinet Lessons. Make sure you have a good teacher who spends time improving your clarinet basics and teaching you how to practice.  Rote-only clarinet teachers are bad clarinet teachers.
  2. Upgrade Embouchure. Check out my 5-C clarinet embouchure HERE and related embouchure tips HERE.
  3. Improve Tonguing. Spend quality time with your new best friend, Betty: CLICK HERE.
  4. Enhance Posture.  Check out these posture links:  Head Position, Don’t Lean Over, Don’t Look Down, and Unkink Your Hose.
  5. Get Better Reeds. Check out the new reeds from D’Addario and Vandoren: especially the D’Addario Reserve and Reserve Classic. Also, I strongly recommend checking out the ReedGeek. Mrs. ClarinetMike says I’m “volitionally ignorant” on mechanical things; however, I find the ReedGeek super easy to use and it really helps!!
  6. Learn New Practice Techniques. Try these out: Rhy-NO PracticeFeed The Rhy-No!The Fast Way!Note Grouping, and others.
  7. Play Duets. Get together with your buddies and have FUN playing  chamber music – duets, trios, quartets, etc…. Go to the local music store and buy a duet book (ALL of us must support local music stores!). FYI, there’s a lot of free music on the Internet, such as HERE.
Posted in All, All-State, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Duo 35 at NACWPI 2017! ClarinetMike and Saxophonist Todd Oxford to Perform at the NACWPI National Conference 2017!

Duo 35 to Perform at NACWPI National Conference 2017!

I’ve been officially notified that Saxophonist Todd Oxford and I (Duo 35) have been selected to perform at the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors [NACWPI] National Conference 2017 at the University of Montevallo on October 6-8, 2017 in Montevallo, Alabama!

ClarinetMike says, “NACWPI 2017 is just the first leg of our Duo 35 Tour 2017! Watch for more Duo 35 Tour 2017 information coming soon!”

Posted in All, News, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supercharge Your Teaching With Powerful Maxims!

ClarinetMike Teaching a Lesson

A maxim is a short, memorable comment that quickly and concisely communicates an idea or concept.  The use of maxims is a very effective way to teach any subject, including the clarinet. One of my heroes, the legendary basketball coach John Wooden, was famous for his “Maxims.” (FYI, check out my John Wooden article HERE.)

It is important that teachers consider and evaluate their maxims. We need to make sure that what is being conveyed in a saying to a student is consistent with our overall pedagogy and teaching philosophy. For example, many teachers say, “Practice makes permanent.” While there is much truth to this saying, I prefer to say, “Practice makes habit.” I believe that change is possible and, in fact, constantly necessary. As John Wooden said, “Not all change is progress, but there is no progress without change.” (AND, I find the word, “permanent” a bit depressing!)

Some of my favorite maxims:

“The heart of performing is the attempt to say something beautiful.”

“Go For It!”

“If you can’t clap it, you can’t play it.”

“Don’t play anything faster than you can play it.” (John Cipolla)

“Good things take time, as they should.” (John Wooden)

“Relax in your body, concentrate in your mind [not the other way around!].”

“Rhythm First!”

“It’s always the rhythm.”

“If you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it fast.”

“If you learn it at Mezzo-Nothing, you’ll perform it at Mezzo-Nothing.” [on the importance of working on dynamics as a piece is learned]

“Gain relaxation, maintain relaxation, and then regain relaxation.”

“Slow and steady gets you ready.”

“Be confident and play with a great sound.”

“Old age and sneakiness beats youth and talent every time.”

ClarinetMike says, “Listen to the advice of the great Winston Churchill below.”

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” Winston Churchill  (This and many other quotes can be found at http://www.brainyquote.com.)

NOTE: The above is a revised version of a previous post.

Posted in All, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Super Cool Summer 2017 Clarinet Events for Dallas-Fort Worth Student Clarinetists!

The Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area will be having some fantastic clarinet events for students coming up in June and July! If you know of more, let me know!

ClarinetMike says, “HEY CLARINET STUDENTS! Turn off Snapchat for a minute and GO! to some great clarinet events. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll be FUN!! You can send a Snap about what you learn….”

UTA Concert Band Camp
, Grades 7-12
University of Texas at Arlington Campus
Sunday, June 11 to Thursday, June 15
Click Here For More Details


TCU High School Music and Leadership Experience Band Camp 2017

TCU Campus, Fort Worth, Texas
Monday, June 19 to Thursday, June 22
Click Here For More Details

TCU Middle School Music Experience
Band Camp 2017
TCU Campus, Fort Worth, Texas
Friday, June 23 to Saturday, June 24
Click Here For More Details



TCU Summer Clarinet Workshop 2017
For Intermediate and Advanced Clarinetists
TCU Campus, Fort Worth, Texas
Monday, June 26 to Tuesday, June 27
Click Here For Details





ClarEssentials High School Clarinet Workshop 
University of North Texas Campus, Denton, Texas
Wednesday, June 28 to Saturday, July 1
Click Here For Details





Clearly Clarinet Camp (NEW!) 
Ages 11-23
Vandeventer Middle School, Frisco, Texas
Monday, July 10 to Thursday, July 13
Click Here For More Details




Posted in All, News, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNKINK YOUR HOSE! A Practical Lawn Care and Clarinet Playing Tip

Does your airflow have kinks like the ClarinetMike Garden Hose?

A couple years ago, the city of Hurst 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. 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.

NOTE: The above is a slightly revised version of a previous post.

Posted in All, Performance & Pedagogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments