The Best Clarinet Fingerings for F# and Eb

ClarinetMike teaching a clarinet master class at the University of Michigan in February 2020.

The Best Clarinet Fingerings for F# and Eb
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Below I offer my opinions on two fingerings that I think should be taught and used by beginning (and all) clarinetists.

First space F#/Gb.  Beginners are often taught to play this note in a chromatic scale with thumb and the 2 bottom right side (trill) keys. I strongly suggest that teachers teach the standard fingering of left hand index finger instead. Students should use it all the time, even in the chromatic scale.  In actual music it almost always is the preferred fingering for F#/Gb. Learning to “flip” well between thumb F and index F# is an important technique for all clarinetists.

I was taught to introduce alternate fingerings early and often – and I agree. However, I would make it clear to the students that the basic (or guide) fingering for F# is index finger. FYI, legendary clarinet performer/teacher, Robert Marcellus, said in an interview, “…the two side trill keys are not chromatic ‘F#’ like a lot of people play. The chromatic of “F#” is just the index finger in the left hand.”

[However, if for some reason you simply MUST teach trill key F# in a chromatic scale, I plead with you to make sure your students also know regular index finger F#. I’ve seen far too many clarinet students use trill key F# all the time as their basic fingering – I suspect their beginning clarinet teachers never taught the standard fingering to them. The inadequate preparation of beginning clarinet teachers is an important topic for another day!]

First line Eb/D# (also Bb/A# second space above the staff). Beginners are often taught to play this note with the left hand fork key (also called the “sliver” or “banana” key). Instead, students should be taught to use the normal fingering of thumb and top two fingers of left hand with right bottom side (trill) key.  And, as above, I strongly suggest this fingering be used also in the chromatic scale. Again, this fingering is almost always the preferred fingering in actual music. Further, the left hand fork key is difficult to use if a student’s fingers aren’t slender. FYI, one of my teachers told me a story about a famous clarinetist who disliked the left hand fork key so much he had it taken off the clarinet and its hole plugged up!

I want to restate that I think alternate fingerings should be introduced early and often. The more fingerings a clarinetist knows, the better the clarinetist can solve technical problems in music.

ClarinetMike says, “As legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, ‘Little Things Make Big Things Happen.’”

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Program Notes for Duo 35 Concert at NACWPI/CMS National Conference 2020 (online) featuring TWO World Premieres!

NOTE: Time above is in Eastern Daylight Time (1:15 pm Central Daylight Time, etc).

Hey! Duo 35, saxophonist Todd Oxford and I, have been invited to perform at the National Conference Online of NACWPI (National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors) on Saturday, October 10, at 1:15 pm central time. 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 the conference program and program notes. We are excited to give TWO World Premieres for clarinet and saxophone:  [confab] by Michael P. Schneider and Garage Sale Llama by Jeffrey Hoover!

NACWPI/CMS National Conference 2020 (online)
Saturday, October 10, 2020
2:15 p.m. EDT (1:15 pm Central Daylight Time, etc.)

Duo 35
Michael Dean, clarinet
Todd Oxford, alto saxophone


[confab] (2020) (clarinet & alto saxophone) by Michael P. Schneider (b.1975)
(World Premiere)

Blue Caprice (1981) (alto saxophone) Victor Morosco (b.1936)

Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski (2020) (clarinet) by Austin Ali (b.1997)

Gararge Sale Llama (2020) (clarinet & alto saxophone) by Jeffrey Hoover (b.1959)
(World Premiere)


[confab] (2020) (clarinet & alto saxophone) by Michael P. Schneider (b.1975)
(World Premiere)

Critics have hailed Michael Schneider as “a pianist with exceptional insight” and a “performer with great panache” in performances across the USA and abroad. Michael has performed in legendary venues such as the château of George Sand in Nohant, France, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, and the Library of Congress. He has been a featured guest artist at the International Chopin Festival in France, the Music Festival of the Hamptons, directed by Lukas Foss, ‘Pianotune’ Festival in Brussels, the Hungarian Festival in Cancun, Mexico, the American Liszt Society Annual Conference, the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA, and for seven summers was an audience favorite at Pianofest in the Hamptons. Dr. Schneider holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Cleveland Institute of Music and University of Texas at Austin. He has taught on the faculties of Youngstown State University, University of Texas at Austin, Concordia University-Austin, and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. His teachers include Anton Nel, Paul Schenly, and Pamela Mia Paul. His professional website is

Michael Schneider says: “[confab] is a new work written specifically for Duo 35. I subtitled [confab]: ‘in a time of pandemic’ to Dr. Michael Dean (aka ClarinetMike) upon delivery of the new work, and while the current crisis seems to have played a role in shaping the outcome of the piece, it was not the genesis of [confab]. What should have originally been a jocular sounding piece for two exceptional musicians with sterling personalities instead ended up a victim of circumstance and societal misfortune. While ideas bounced freely around the composer’s head, a single plebeian motive began to surface: asking a question again and yet again, the motive then turning around on itself looking for the answer, only to answer with its original ill-informed motive.

“The narrative is quite simple after that. Conversations about dire things with unknown outcomes often produce fruitless talk and build to a fear-based frenzy. A striking moment of this work occurs after the first of these frenzies: the arrival of a mutually commiserating lament, the musicians acting in unison. This feeds in on itself and builds again, only to finally return to the opening material with one main difference: this time the conversation is layered on top of each other. The tedious message remains the same, but with each musician speaking over the other – unmoved, unchanged, and none the wiser by their conversational journey.”

[confab] was commissioned by Duo 35 and premiered by them at the NACWPI/College Music Society National Conference 2020 (online) in October of 2020.

Blue Caprice (1981) (alto saxophone) Victor Morosco (b.1936)

Victor Morosco is a unique concert saxophonist who has achieved an international reputation as a performer of classical and improvised music, an educator, clinician, and composer. Mr. Morosco has been a member of the faculty of The City University of New York Graduate Center, Brooklyn and Lehman Colleges and at California State University, Los Angeles. Currently residing in Ocala, Florida and Strada in Casentino, Italy, Mr. Morosco continues to work as a composer, soloist, and clinician. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Julliard School of Music where he studied with Vincent Abato, Daniel Bonade, and Joseph Allard.

Blue Caprice is a set of variations on the harmonic structure and form of the blues. The original title of the piece was “Caprice en Forme de Blues.”

Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski (2020) (clarinet) by Austin Ali (b. 1997)

Austin Ali is an international award-winning composer, trumpet player, and conductor based in Dallas, Texas. Musicians from Austin, Texas, to Washington, DC, to Valencia, Spain have performed Austin’s music, including the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Spanish Brass, and Christopher Bill. 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 graduated in 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.

Austin Ali says, “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.”

Transposing A Feeling: For Bailey Sikorski for solo clarinet was commissioned by Michael Dean and premiered by him at the University of Michigan on his Upper Midwest Tour 2020 in February of 2020.

Gararge Sale Llama (2020) (clarinet & alto saxophone) by Jeffrey Hoover (b.1959) (World Premiere)

Jeffrey Hoover’s work – ranging from compositions for soloist to symphony orchestra – has been recognized through national and international awards, grants, fellowships, and commissions. Also a visual artist, he is known for creating unique interdisciplinary works where he combines his paintings with his compositions. Recognized for distinguished achievement as a composer, he is a member of the ACME roster of Mu Phi Epsilon. He is an active free-lance composer, musician, and teacher in Sacramento, California. His professional web page is

Jeffrey Hoover writes of his work: “Back in December, I attended a Christmas party and noticed that the neighbor of my host had something unusual in his backyard. The host briefly mentioned to me how his neighbor made the acquisition. The following narrative is how I imagine this occurred:

‘On a sunny Saturday morning I was out for a stroll with my wife when I noticed a garage sale down the street from my suburban Sacramento home. As we approached the garage sale, the sound of Christmas songs filled the air and we noticed a number of people looking through the books, furniture, and other usual items. We also noticed a live llama tied up beside the house with a sign nearby that read, Luis The Llama is For Sale. Jeff, I’m still not sure exactly what happened next, but one thing led to another and now we have a live llama in our backyard!’ ”

Garage Sale Llama was commissioned by Duo 35 and premiered by them at the NACWPI/College Music Society National Conference 2020 (online) in October of 2020.


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.

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, Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. In April 2021, he will tour Israel giving clarinet recitals and master classes. The following July, he will again return to Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at Orfeo Music Festival 2021. He is featured on 5 commercial CD’s with a new CD due in 2020. For 11 years he was clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony and has given more than 500 clinics, master classes and performances at high schools, universities, conferences and other venues. As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his widely-viewed ClarinetMike Blog, read in 150 countries on 6 continents. After a successful 25 years of university clarinet teaching, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is an active clarinet performer, teacher, and clinician based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. He’s a BG France Performing Artist. His professional website is

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. International appearances include Europe, Mexico, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Thailand, and Indonesia. He has appeared on the artist rosters of Columbia Artists Management, Texas Commission on the Arts, and Arts Mid-West. His professional awards include two consecutive New York Debut Awards, six Global Music Awards, Grammy Award nomination, and a recent feature in Billboard Magazine. He appears on eighteen commercially available recordings on the Equilibrium, Mark, Navona, Kairoi, and JLG record labels with worldwide distribution via iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and major online retailers. He is an Artist Endorser for Eastman Saxophones and Associate Professor of Saxophone at Texas State University. His professional website is

NOTE: The cropped picture above of a domestic llama and other important attribution information about it are found here. This is not the original Garage Sale Llama. But the Llama’s name might be Luis!

ClarinetMike says, “Llamas are leading the fight against COVID-19, click here!”

NOTE: Time above is in Eastern Daylight Time.

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Israel! ClarinetMike Israel Tour 2021

ClarinetMike to give recitals and master classes in Israel, including Jerusalem above, in April 2021!

BIG NEWS! In late April 2021, I will tour Israel giving clarinet recitals and master classes! Plus, I will give an exciting World Premiere! More details soon! Please Join my Official Facebook Page, Israel Tour 2021, HERE, to get all the latest information, pictures, video, and MORE!

Note: the picture of Jerusalem above is in Public Domain and is found here.

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

ClarinetMike in Italy performing a World Premiere at the Chiesa di Santa Margherita (1670) in Vipiteno, Italy at Orfeo Music Festival 2019. ClarinetMike uses these tips in preparing music.

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”

  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. 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.
  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. [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 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]
  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 below.] A bad tone always sounds…BAD!
  6. 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.
  7. Sight-Reading. Do some sight-reading (and work on other music) every day to keep your playing fresh.
  8. 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]
  9. Practice Rhy-No. Check out Rhy-No Practice,  Feed The Rhy-NoThe Fast Way, and other practice techniques from this blog – Click Here.
  10. 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.”

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TMEA All-State Available! PLUS “5 All-State Practice Tips To Get You Started!”

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Here We Go! Today, the official 2020-2021 audition materials for the Texas TMEA All-State Band were posted online. Below, I have posted screenshots from the official website of the audition materials for soprano and low clarinets.  I’ve already started to break down the audition music for clinics, private lessons, and such.  Here’s 5 all-state practice tips to help get you started:

 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 teacher who teaches solid basics and expressive musical style. [FYI, I have a few spots open right now on Skype/Zoom if you need a teacher: click here.]

ClarinetMike says, “Stay away from bad Rote-Only Teachers and endless YouTube Videos. Don’t just copy a recording by listening to it over and over and over. Learn to count! Rote-only playing is bad clarinet playing and will NOT get you past a good university audition.”



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12 All-State Clarinet Resources: Rose 32 Etudes, 40 Studies, and More!

Famous French Clarinet Teacher and Performer Cyrille Rose in 1880

This coming Monday, July 13, the Texas TMEA All-State audition etudes will be revealed. As in years past, the etudes selected for soprano and low clarinets (and Texas ATSSB soprano clarinets) will be 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 and beyond.

Some of the best places to look for ideas on how to perform an etude, solo, or any work of music are other editions of the same music. Therefore, below is a lightly annotated list of various editions of the Rose 32 Etudes and 40 Studies. 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 to teach lessons and give clarinet clinics on the all-state music.

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. FYI, like many pros, my own clarinet lineage goes back to Cyrille Rose.

12 All-State Clarinet Resources: Rose 32 Etudes, 40 Studies, and More!
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA * 682-888-7639 *

  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. This edition was available for free for years, but now seems to be safely available only in another book, The Complete Daniel Bonade, compiled and edited by Larry Guy.
  2. Philippe Cuper, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. Paris, France: International Music Diffusion, 2011, with CD.
  3. 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 Early edition of Ferling studies. (These studies are the basis for the Rose 32 Etudes.) Available for free HERE.
  4. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Famous Studies for Oboe or Saxophone, Revised by Albert J. Andraud. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1958. This book is often used for the Saxophone and Oboe/English Horn all-state audition music.  Available at local music stores.
  5. Franz Wilhelm Ferling. 48 Studies by Ferling for All Saxophones, Edited by Marcel Mule. Paris, France: Leduc, 1946. 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!).
  6. Ben Andrew Garcia and Luuk De Vries, editors. 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.
  7. Larry Guy, editor. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. Stony Point, NY: Rivernote Press, 2017.
  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. Jean & David Hite, revisors and editors. Cyrille Rose FORTY STUDIES for ClarinetSan Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 2000. A reworked edition of the Rose 40 Studies.
  10. 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.
  11. Cyrille Rose. 32 Etudes for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 1913. 40 Studies for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 1910. These venerable editions are what many of us in the USA used in school. They are notorious for mistakes, so be careful.
  12. Melvin Warner, editor. The New Rose Studies for Clarinet. New York: Carl Fischer, 2002/2009, with CD.

ClarinetMike says, “It is absolutely critical that those who judge the competitions carefully study the all-state etudes before the competitions. We owe this fairness to the students.”

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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ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide

ClarinetMike teaching a clarinet master class at the University of Michigan in February 2020.

Here in Texas, the TMEA high school all-state band audition music is soon to be released. Plus, ATSSB students are already busily working away on their audition music. Below is a five-step guide to preparing the all-state materials.  The steps below are loaded with information from my ClarinetMike All-State Clarinet Clinics (click here).  Watch this blog for more All-State help from ClarinetMike!

UPDATE from Texas TMEA: The 2020–2021 TMEA All-State Band Audition Etude listing will be available Monday, July 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM. The date has been moved up due to the TBA Virtual Convention.

ClarinetMike’s All-State Preparation Guide
Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
“Building Great Clarinetists”
Clarinet Performing, Teaching and Consulting
Hurst, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas USA * 682-888-7639 *

Step 1: Preliminary Concerns

  1. Get quality equipment. FYI, my Bb soprano clarinet set up: Buffet R13 clarinet [1974], Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece, Vandoren V12 3.5 or D’Addario Reserve Classic 3.5 reeds, BG Super Revelation ligature, metronome/tuner, GEM swab, ReedGeek, etc.
  2. Find a good private teacher who teaches solid basics and expressive musical style. Stay away from Rote-Only Teachers and YouTube Videos. [Don’t just copy a recording. Learn to count! Rote-only playing will NOT get you past a good university audition.]

Step 2: Core Concepts

  1. It’s All About the MUSIC. So, work on ARTC Basics & ARTSY Musical Style (Phrasing, especially Romantic Era Style)
  2. Loading & Unloading. Slow Careful Practice = Speedy, Confident Performing. The Tortoise and the Hare – Be a Turtle! (See Frank R. Wilson)
  3. Focus on What You Control: Preparation & Effort. Success, John Wooden, etc.
  4. Genuine Excellence = Talent × Practice Time × Practice Quality.
  5. Power of Habit. Work on Basics (ARTC) & Scales, along with the All-State Music in a Practice Routine.

Step 3: General Preparation Tips

  1. Practice and perform only on good reeds.
  2. Use a metronome and tuner.
  3. Record yourself – check out phone apps!
  4. BOLD Dynamics.
  5. Sound Projection
  6. Plan and mark breathing carefully.
  7. Understand terms, notation, ornaments, etc. that are on the etudes.
  8. Create a cheat sheet. Write each etude’s scales and arpeggios at top of music.
  9. Clap and sing the music.
  10. Check out additional Practice Tips.

Step 4: Scale Preparation Tips

  1. Thoroughly prepare your scales as if they were etudes or solos. Don’t just run through them quickly and thoughtlessly. Careful preparation of scales with good fundamentals (relaxation, tone, counting, etc.) will pay big rewards not only on the scales themselves, but also on the all-state etudes and all the music you play since they are built on scales.
  2. Work on scales in an organized practice routine that includes basics, sight-reading, etc.
  3. Practice a scale all slurred first, then work on the tongued version. Slurring will allow you to hear how smooth (or not) the connections between notes are.
  4. Work on tonguing every day – check out my Basic Tonguing Exercise (BTE).
  5. Practice the chromatic scale every day. Many consider it to be the most important scale. I suggest starting your scale practice with it.
  6. Use a metronome. BUT, don’t use it 100% of the time – DO NOT get addicted to the metronome. Common Sense is your most important tool in preparation of scales and all-state music (and everything!).
  7. Work on cleanly going over The Break! This is often neglected and results in a lack of smoothness in the playing. The finger combinations for going over The Break are tricky and must be addressed every day by clarinetists at every level. Also, DO NOT use throat tone resonance fingers (or keeping right hand down, etc.) when doing scales. This will slow down and dirty the technique.
  8. Make sure you have good tone, relaxed body position, good hand position and finger movement, etc. as you learn the scales. Otherwise, you will be memorizing flaws that will be much harder to fix later.

Step 5: Etude Preparation Template

  1. Composer and Style
  2. Overview
  3. Tempo and Key
  4. Sections and Phrases
  5. Special Issues (repeated figure, etc.)
  6. Musical Issues
  7. Technical Issues (articulation, rhythms, fingerings, etc.)
  8. Problem Passages
  9. Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet
  10. Breath Marks
  11. Other
  12. Suggested Listening

ClarinetMike says, “It’s all about music. So spend your time preparing to give a beautiful performance.”

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Job Interview [and Teaching!] Help from Coach John Wooden

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

I know many of you are looking for a new (or better!) job. So, below 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. His brilliant pedagogy and maxims could prove helpful in your preparation for job interview questions, such as “What is your philosophy of education” or “What are the characteristics of an exemplary teacher,” etc. At the very least, the tips below will help you be a better teacher! Best wishes on your job search!

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 * 682-888-7639 *

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, p. 127-128)

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.” (

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, “If you have a minute to prepare, check out Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry! by Andrew Hill/John Wooden plus the Wooden video mentioned above. And remember, on a job interview you must dress up and look good!”

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!

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Top 10 Things To Do On Summer Break!

ClarinetMike recording Pete Meechan’s beautiful “Song Of Hope” for the Ryan Anthony video project.

Top 10 Things To Do On Summer Break!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Lessons. Take online private lessons with a good teacher. A good teacher will spend time improving your basics and teaching you how to practice in addition to working on music.
  2. Practice. With the pandemic, online school, stay-at-home orders, and such, it has been difficult for many to consistently practice or even practice at all. Now that school is out, work hard to make time to practice in a good routine.
  3. Basics. Work on improvements and adjustments in your technique. Hey Students! How about working on what your teacher emphasized last semester – posture, embouchure, tonguing, etc.?
  4. Improve. Work on Scales, Etudes, Sight Reading, and Transposition.
  5. Study. Study a work you don’t know: orchestra, band, solo, chamber music, etc.
  6. Clean. Organize your office and/or practice space! Those stacks of music (and pizza boxes!) need to be dealt with. AND clean out your case!
  7. CALL! Contact an older musician – especially a retired private teacher or band director. Pick up the phone and see how they are doing. Stop reading this and call them right now – yes, right now!
  8. Movies. Watch old movies (check out Turner Classic Movies) and listen to the music. Learn about the composers. Some of them have written solo music for your instrument!
  9. Jazz. Work on Jazz or a style that is new to you. If you don’t know anything about Jazz, Now’s The Time to learn.
  10. Live. Get outside in the sunshine (as appropriate during the pandemic in your area). Attend an online church or similar meeting, get some exercise, read a good book, learn a foreign language, become a volunteer in an organization that helps people, etc.

ClarinetMike says, “Have a Great Summer!”

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Online Lessons with ClarinetMike!

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

Hey! Today, I started signing up students for online summer clarinet lessons. I have some additional spots open if anyone is looking for a teacher. I take all levels, but students must be serious about clarinet study – this means they have to practice!

I use various platforms for online lessons, including Skype, Zoom, etc. For information, just send 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 Italy, Spain, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. In 2019, he 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.

Born and raised in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, he was a member of the Texas All-State Band in high school and has since successfully taught the clarinet to all levels of students, from beginners to graduate students. After a successful 20 years of teaching the clarinet at the university level, Dr. Dean 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. His former students perform in military bands, wind ensembles, orchestras, big bands, and more. They hold faculty appointments as successful music educators and administrators and are consistently accepted into prestigious university music schools. They also consistently win awards and distinctions at competitions and festivals including solo & ensemble, all-region, all-state, and various concerto and other competitions.

As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his noted and widely-read ClarinetMike Blog – viewed in 150 countries on 6 continents, 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). 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 Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.

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