Upgrade Your Performing and Teaching: Load Great Habits!

When I was a kid, I played little league baseball. While fielding a position, my coaches taught me to keep my right thumb between my first two fingers when the pitcher started to make his pitch. This way, if a ball was hit to me, my fingers would go to the ball in my glove with perfect hand position for throwing a baseball.

I’ve noticed lately that when I’m walking around that my right thumb is often between my first two fingers! I haven’t played baseball in little league for decades, but the finger position habit I developed as a kid is still with me! [I just stopped typing, looked down, and there was my right thumb between my first two fingers!]

The above is a small, but significant, illustration of the power of habit to shape our lives.  In view of this, I believe it is vital that we constantly work to ingrain great habits (physical and mental) in our own performing and that of our students. This is true not only for the rhythms, notes and dynamics of a specific work one is working on, but with fundamentals such as embouchure, tonguing, voicing, relaxation, posture, confidence, etc.

ClarinetMike says, “Let us begin this new academic year with a renewed commitment to constantly LOAD GREAT HABITS!”

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ClarinetMike’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!

ClarinetMike says, “Notice that successful private lessons begin and end with practicing.”

Schools of all kinds are starting here in the USA and for most music students that means back to private lessons. For many students it also means a new city, new school, and a new private lesson teacher. The tips below will help students get the most out of private lessons.

ClarinetMike’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Private Lessons!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Practice. Treat private lessons like an academic class. Carefully and completely do your homework = LOTS OF GREAT DAILY PRACTICE!
  2. Warm Up and Be Early. Warm up thoroughly before the lesson. Show up 5 minutes early to the lesson with instrument “ready to go” and wait patiently outside your teacher’s studio door.
  3. No Beeps, Buzzers or Bells. Turn off cell phone and other gizmos during the lesson and while waiting patiently outside the studio door.
  4. LISTEN! Be eager to listen and learn from the teacher. The point of lessons is to learn how to play the instrument better. Lessons are not meant for you to play the entire time. If the teacher makes no comments, you didn’t get a lesson!
  5. COURTESY! Always treat the teacher with respect and courtesy, even if you don’t feel well or the teacher is cranky – you are taking lessons to get better on the instrument, NOT to hang out with a “buddy.”
  6. Write It Down. After the lesson, write down what was discussed, assignments, etc. Keeping a notebook for lessons is a great idea.
  7. Lock It In. Make a point to practice at least a little soon after the lesson. This will help “lock in” what was taught.
  8. Practice Wisely. Make sure you practice all that the teacher assigns in the way that the teacher has directed you.
  9. Do Extra. Show initiative and do extra work in your lesson preparation. For example, if your teacher assigns you to listen to a recording of a work, listen to 3 recordings.
  10. Practice Log. Keep a practice log of all practicing. Putting it on your wall or near your work desk will remind you to practice.

BONUS: Steps Ahead. Remember that your private lesson teacher will likely be writing a letter of recommendation for you in the future. So please follow these tips.

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7 Tricks For Clarinet Teachers

ClarinetMike backstage right before performing in Italy at the Orfeo Music Festival.

Are you a new clarinet teacher looking for help? Are you a seasoned clarinet teacher looking for upgrades? Have you taught the clarinet since the Hoover Presidency and want to continue to improve? Well, ClarinetMike is lookin’ out for ya! Below are some tips that will help new (and OLD!) teachers produce excellent clarinet students. Be sure to carefully study the information at the LINKS below.

7 Tricks For Clarinet Teachers by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Embouchure is Everything.  Your understanding of and the ability to teach good embouchure is the most critical part of producing good clarinet students. LINKS: 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and 5 E-Tips For E-Lips
  2. Relaxation and Posture. “If you ain’t relaxed, you ain’t nothin’.” [Bad English, Good Pedagogy!] LINKS: Head PositionDon’t Lean OverDon’t Look Down, and Unkink Your Hose.
  3. Tonguing, Tonguing, Tonguing! Spend quality time with your new best friend, “Betty.” LINK: Basic Tonguing Exercise a.k.a. “Betty”
  4. COUNT! Teach your students how to count and learn music for themselves. Rote-only private lesson teachers are bad private lesson teachers.  Also, discourage students from just copying a recording or YouTube video on region or solo music. These and similar “short cuts” are shortsighted and end up hurting the students we are charged to help.  LINKS: Rhy-No Practice,  Feed The Rhy-No, and The Fast Way.
  5. Reed and Ligature Placement.  Coach John Wooden said, “Little Things Make Big Things Happen.” LINK: Reed and Ligature Placement
  6. PROJECT! Teach Clarinet Sound Projection. It’s easy to teach and do. LINK: Sound Projection
  7. Maximize Your Maxims. Repeatedly use short, memorable comments that concisely and quickly communicate your concepts and ideas. LINK: Maxims

ClarinetMike Says, “Clarinet Embouchure is possibly the weakest link in current clarinet pedagogy. Spend as much time as possible figuring out how to teach good embouchure – check out 5-C Clarinet Embouchure and 5 E-Tips For E-Lips.”

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10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything!

ClarinetMike uses these tips when preparing cool New Music. ClarinetMike is with pianist Dena Kay Jones after they gave 2 premieres at Orfeo Music Festival 2019 in Vipiteno, Italy.

Here are 10 general practice tips for preparing the All-State etudes, solos, or any music. Hey Teachers! I have marked a few spots, BAD PEDAGOGY, to indicated opportunities for teachers to correct and upgrade their instruction. Watch for MORE All-State help coming soon from ClarinetMike!

10 Practice Tips for All-State, Solos, and Everything!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Go Slow. Load correct information only! Go slow and learn the rhythm and notes correctly the first time and every time.
  2. MORE Go Slow. Generally, begin work on an etude by counting in eighth notes, i.e. twice as slow or three times as slow if in 6/8, where one eighth note gets one beat, one quarter note gets two counts, dotted quarter note gets three counts, etc.
  3. 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. Check out my ADD BOLD DYNAMICS! post. [Dynamics Later = BAD PEDAGOGY]
  4. 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. 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]
  5. 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 directly below.] A bad tone always sounds…BAD!
  6. 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.
  7. 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 – check out my “Betty” post.
  8. Sight-Reading. Do some sight-reading (and work on other music) every day to keep your playing fresh.
  9. Metronome. The metronome is a valuable tool and should be used a lot. 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]
  10. Practice Rhy-No. Check out Rhy-No Practice,  Feed The Rhy-NoThe Fast Way, and other practice techniques from this blog – Click Here.

ClarinetMike says, “Use these tips!”

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12 Texas All-State Clarinet Resources: The Rose 32 Etudes

Cyrille Rose in 1880

Recently, the Texas TMEA All-State audition etudes were revealed. As in years past, the etudes selected for soprano and low clarinets (and ATSSB soprano clarinets) are Rose Etudes. Other states in the USA also use Rose etudes for their high school all-state clarinet auditions. An online search revealed Florida, Minnesota, Kentucky, Washington, West Virginia and New Hampshire (and certainly others) have used Rose Etudes for all-state clarinet auditions in the recent past. And, of course, the study of Rose Etudes is standard for practically all clarinet students at colleges, universities, and conservatories in the USA.

I have found that some of the best places to look for ideas on how to play an etude, solo or any work of music are other editions of the same music. Therefore, below is an annotated list of various editions of the Rose 32 Etudes. I have also included a few versions of the Ferling Studies as they are the basis for most of the Rose 32 Etudes. I will use these resources as I prepare my annual ClarinetMike’s Texas All-State Clarinet Clinic, available in August.

Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments. He “clarinetized” them. For general information on the Rose 32 Etudes, click HERE  and for the Ferling Studies click HERE.

12 Texas All-State Clarinet Resources:
The Rose 32 Etudes
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA
clarinetmiketexas@yahoo.com * 682-888-7639
clarinetmike.com * clarinetmike.wordpress.com

  1. Daniel Bonade, editor. Sixteen Phrasing Studies for Clarinet.  Conn-Selmer, Inc., 1952. Bonade was a legendary clarinet player and teacher who taught Mitchell Lurie, Robert Marcellus, and other leading clarinetists of his day: he also taught David Hite, the editor of the Texas all-state etudes. These studies offer phrasing and other help on the slow etudes from the Rose 32 Etudes. Please note that Bonade renumbered the etudes – Rose #13 is #7 here for example. Was available for free for years, but now seems to be available only in another book, The Complete Daniel Bonade, compiled and edited by Larry Guy. Available HERE.
  2. Philippe Cuper, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. [Paris?]: International Music Diffusion, 2011, with CD. From Gary Van Cott’s web site: “This new edition of the 32 Rose Etudes is based on the original 1893 edition with some additions to the markings by the editor when they are missing from the original. There are fewer markings than the editions edited by Warner [see below]. The printing in this edition, although very clean, has more white space between lines and is somewhat smaller than other editions. Now includes a CD of these etudes performed by Philippe Cuper.” Available HERE.
  3. Stanley Drucker, editor. Rose 32 Studies for Clarinet. New York: International Music Co., 1973. Available HERE.
  4. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Studies for Oboe, Op. 31. Braunschweig: J.P. Spehr, n.d.(1837) Reprinted New York: Edwin F Kalmus, n.d. (after 1933). Catalog K.04121 (Citation from IMSLP.org) Early edition of Ferling studies. (These studies are the basis for the Rose 32 Etudes.) Available for free HERE.
  5. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Famous Studies for Oboe or Saxophone, Revised by Albert J. Andraud. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1958. This is also the book often used for the Saxophone and Oboe/English Horn all-state audition music.  Available at local music stores.
  6. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Studies by Ferling for All Saxophones, Edited by Marcel Mule. Paris: Leduc, 1946. Available HERE. The Mule edition of the Ferling Studies is frequently used by saxophone students at colleges, universities, and conservatories in the USA. I often consult it myself when teaching the saxophone (and clarinet!).”
  7. Larry Guy, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. Stony Point, NY: Rivernote Press, 2017. From Gary Van Cott’s web site: “Larry Guy presents the 32 Rose Etudes (edited and corrected) along with a page of suggestions for each etude. The book also includes several pages describing the nomenclature and fingerings used in the book as well as four pages on the fundamentals of phrasing.” Available HERE.
  8. David Hite, editor. Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School for Clarinet. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1986. This is the book used for this year’s Texas TMEA Soprano and Low Clarinet all-state music. Students and teachers should purchase the book and not use ONLY copies. Also, in the back of the book is an important Glossary – a list of terms briefly explaining Hite’s numerous [and sometimes overdone!] performance suggestions. Available at local music stores.
  9. Henry Larsen. The 32 Rose Studies: An Analysis and Study Guide. Avon, CT: Larsen Audiographics, 1998. Each of the 32 etudes is accompanied by extensive notes and suggestions. Available HERE.
  10. Cyrille Rose. Thirty-Two Etudes for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 1913. The venerable edition many of us in the USA learned from. It is notorious for mistakes, so be careful. Available for free HERE.
  11. The Complete Clarinet: C. Rose Revisited – 118 Etudes for Clarinet. Fort Worth, TX: Complete Works Music Publisher, 2014. Features every etude that Rose wrote for the clarinet, including the lesser-known “26 Etudes.” Available HERE or HERE.
  12. Melvin Warner, editor. The New Rose Studies for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 2002/2009, with CD. From Gary Van Cott’s web site: “In this new edition of the 32 Rose Etudes, the editor has drawn on various editions of the 32 Etudes and the Ferling 48 Etudes on which they are based.  He has corrected errors in time signatures, notes, articulations, etc. He has not added any breathing, tempo, or other markings not found in the originals. This edition includes downloadable piano accompaniments composed and performed by John Walker (as .mp3 files) and .pdf files of all of these piano parts. The recorded accompaniments are still available as a regular CD HERE. The old Carl Fischer edition (most recently with a white cover) has been discontinued.” Available HERE.

ClarinetMike says, “Don’t forget about using Interlibrary Loan at your local library to look at some of these books for free.”

Note: The above picture is in Public Domain and can be found HERE. [Rose looks a lot like the late Stanley Hasty, renowned Eastman clarinet professor.]

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TEXAS-SIZED NEWS! ClarinetFest 2021: Fort Worth, Texas June 30-July 3, 2021!!

ClarinetFest 2021: Fort Worth, Texas June 30-July 3, 2021!!

This past weekend it was announced that the International Clarinet Association (ICA) will hold its annual international ClarinetFest® conference in 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas! Clarinetists from all over the world be on hand for an astounding 4 full days of clarinet concerts, recitals, master classes, clinics, presentations, competitions, exhibits and MORE: Wednesday, June 30-Saturday, July 3, 2021! The festival will be co-hosted by the amazing Mary Alice Druhan and Jennifer Daffinee with a talented host team of Jody Webb, Cheyenne Cruz and Gary Whitman. [Mary, Jennifer, Jody, etc. have been doing outstanding work with their excellent annual Clarinet Colloquium.]

ClarinetFest 2021 will be especially cool for me and my Dallas-Fort Worth students.  My A+ Music Studio at ClarinetMike World HQ is in Hurst, a suburb of Fort Worth. (Hurst to Fort Worth is about the same distance you can throw a saxophone!)

ClarinetMike says, “I’ll post more information on ClarinetFest 2021 as it becomes available. But, mark your calendars right now for ClarinetFest 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas on Wednesday, June 30-Saturday, July 3, 2021!”

Here’s information on International Clarinet Association (from the ICA website):

The International Clarinet Association is a community of clarinetists and  clarinet enthusiasts that supports projects that will benefit clarinet performance; provides opportunities for the exchange of ideas, materials, and information among its members; fosters the composition, publication, recording, and distribution of music for the clarinet; encourages the research and manufacture of a more definitive clarinet; encourages communication and cooperation among clarinetists and the music industry; and encourages and promotes the performance and teaching of a wide variety of repertoire for the clarinet.

To these ends, the association is dedicated to fostering communication and fellowship of clarinetists on a worldwide basis through publishing a quarterly scholarly journal, The Clarinet, producing an annual clarinet festival, ClarinetFest®, supporting a research library with materials available to all members, and promoting a variety of other endeavors related to the clarinet and clarinet playing.

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Texas TMEA All-State Clarinet Audition Etudes 2019-2020 Available! PLUS “ClarinetMike’s 5 All-State Practice Tips To Get You Started”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Hey! I just returned from performing and teaching in Italy, so….Here We Go! Today, the official 2019-2020 audition materials for the Texas TMEA All-State Band were posted online. BELOW I have posted screenshots from the official TMEA.org website of the audition materials for soprano and low clarinets.  I’ve already started to break down the audition music for private lessons, clinics and such.  Here’s 5 all-state practice tips to help get you started. [NOTE: below these tips are the screenshots of the official all-state materials.]

ClarinetMike’s 5 All-State Practice Tips To Get You Started
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

1. Practice Routine. Prepare the all-state materials as part of a balanced practice routine that includes work on basics, scales, and sight-reading. My practice routine is available here.

2. LOOK! Look over the etude before just diving in. A little analysis can be very helpful.

3. Go Slow. Start by working on the first few measures or first line. Go slowly and learn the rhythm, notes, and dynamics correctly the first time and every time. Load correct information as much as possible.

4. TONE! Make sure you always practice with excellent posture and great tone-this means you must take the time to have good reeds!

5. Take Lessons. Take private lessons with a good clarinet teacher or if one is not available in your area, at least read this blog.  I will post more helps on the all-state etudes on my ClarinetMike Blog in coming weeks.

ClarinetMike says, “Follow the tips above.”

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