Teaching Philosophy


I teach clarinet and saxophone at all levels and all styles.

I take great pride and a real personal interest in each of my students. A large number of them join one of the many fine Youth Orchestras in the San Francisco Bay Area where they eventually become section leaders and concerto soloists. Many also participate successfully in the All Santa Clara County and All California State Honor Bands and Orchestras, and regularly win "Superior" and "Command Performance" accolades in County and State Solo and Ensemble Festivals.

I am the Woodwind Section Coach for both the California Youth Symphony and the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, led by my friends and colleagues Leo Eylar and Mitchell Sardou Klein. It is a joy to instruct these fine young artists in the art of orchestra playing, and to help introduce them to this great repertoire.

As well as more advanced students, I really, really enjoy working with young beginners and getting them off to a good start!! I believe in teaching solid fundamentals, especially tone quality. I allow students to progress at their own rate,  and believe it's very important to stay positive and encouraging.

Practice sessions need not be lengthy, but they need to be done every day to make the most rapid progress.



For current students:

Download the Current Schedule.pdf

Interested in taking lessons?

Click here to contact Mike Corner to schedule a lesson or call at (650) 714-3517

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Question: How much should I be practicing?

Answer:  As a general rule, I recommend students practice between 1/2-2/3 of their lesson time, EVERY DAY.  This might not sound like a lot, but when done EVERY DAY with good practice technique this is enough in most cases.   Make practicing a part of your every day routine, like homework.

I consider teaching students HOW to practice is almost the most important thing I do.  Effective practice is much more important than HOW LONG you practice.   Efficient, effective practicing involves listening.  The most important thing correct practice accomplishes is establishing good habits.   Always practice with a good sound.  Make sure that what is being played is being played correctly.  When doing technical work, practice slowly.  Practice in bite size chunks.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Personally, I don’t like to practice all that much.   So, when it’s time for me to practice, I do so in the most efficient manner possible, so I can get my work done and get on to other things.

Question:  Do I need a brand new instrument?

Answer: Probably not.   If you are having problems with sound, this is more likely due to your embouchure and/or air support.   When sound problems are equipment related, they are more likely your mouthpiece and/or your selection of reeds.    I work to correct these first.  When the student has a good foundation of tone on a mouthpiece/reed combination upon which he/she feels comfortable, at THAT point it’s time to see if the student is ready for an “upgraded” instrument.

Question:  What groups should I be playing in, or trying out for?

Answer:   Playing with groups is what makes playing an instrument fun.  I highly encourage participation in school music programs.    It’s a great way to insure you play every day, so when you practice at home, you’re still “warmed up” from having played at school!

There are several Youth Symphonies and Youth Bands in the area, all of which can be exciting and fun, in addition to the All State and All County Honor groups.  My students participate regularly in extra-curricular ensembles of this nature.

Question: Why am I squeaking a lot?

Answer:  In order of probability:

  1. You’re not covering the holes completely.
  2. You need better air support; i.e.not enough air gets into the instrument.
  3. You’re pinching your embouchure too much
  4. Your mouthpiece/reed combination isn’t working for you
  5. There’s something wrong with your instrument.

Diagnosing and fixing squeaks is not difficult. 

Mike's Equipment


F. Artur Uebel "Superior" Bb and A clarinets
Lomax A4+ mouthpiece
Silverstein "Estro" Ligature
Peter Leuthner "French Cut Professional" #3.5 reeds

What can I say? The Uebels simply outplay the Buffets, in sound, intonation, ease of playability, evenness, and every other way. I'm in on the ground floor....these will be very, very popular within 5 years.

Image result for peter leuthner logo
Links | Paul Navidad Online


Yamaha 875 EX Custom Alto Sax

Selmer D Mouthpiece (vintage, scroll shank), OR RPC (Ron Coelho) 85 rollover baffle; "long" Selmer Mark VI neck

Silverstein Ligature

Vandoren Red Java 2.5 or 3 reed

Note: This is a recent change for me. I've played Selmer Altos for almost my entire career. I had short, unsuccessful experimentations with Yanagisawa and vintage Buffets, but went back to Selmers. I've tried several Yamahas in the past; the old 62s', the new 62s, and the 82Zs. I always found them to be thin sounding, somewhat tinny, and uninteresting. However, I can and will now, without reservation, recommend the 875 EX Alto to anyone looking for a professional model alto saxophone. I've played three of them, and they all seem to have the "it" of the old Selmers without any of the intonation and evenness problems between the registers. My Mark VI has a beautiful, distinctive sound, but I was tired of fighting the pitch. But even beyond that, I actually prefer the more focused, slightly brighter sound of the 875. Never thought I'd say such a thing about a Yamaha saxophone, ever, but there it is. A true "unsolicited" testimonial. If Yamaha Corp. wants to get in touch with me, I'm available as an endorser. :). Recently rediscovered my RPC. Still THE choice for big band style work. For everything else, it's the Selmer.

Selmer Mark VI Tenor Sax
Selmer "Super Session" I mouthpiece
Silverstein ligature
Rico Select Jazz 3M reed

Recently got the Super Session, and for my needs it's perfect. Middle of the road. Can play loud, or soft, classical, jazz, or pop depending on the reed choice.

Buffet RC Prestige Eb Clarinet

Pyne Mouthpiece

Rovner Ligature

Vandoren V12 #3 reed

Buffet R13 Prestige Bass Clarinet Got this around 2000. Just missed the big improvements. The newest Buffet and Selmer basses are an order of magnitude better than mine, but mind meets my needs.

Clark Fobes CF+ "Ronny Rubin" mouthpiece

BG Super Revelation ligature

Vandoren V12#3 reed


mike and bob

Symphony Silicon Valley principal clarinetist Michael Corner with second clarinetist Robert Weill