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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Nov 5, 2021

I’m really excited to bring you this conversation with Ralph Skiano, principal clarinetist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Though this conversation was our first time meeting, our views on practice and mindfulness couldn’t be more aligned. I hope you thoroughly enjoy this episode!

Before joining the Detroit symphony, Ralph served as principal clarinetist with the Cincinnati Symphony, the Richmond Symphony, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. He’s also appeared as guest principal clarinetist of the Seattle Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra and as a soloist with ensembles throughout the United States, France, Germany, and Switzerland.

In addition to his soloist and orchestral work, he is an active presenter and clinician, presenting masterclasses and workshops at universities all across the United States. Take a look at the links below to learn more about the books Ralph has written as well as other resources for musicians. 

In our conversation, Ralph shares with us fantastic tips and tricks on how to practice mindfully, develop a solid process to prepare for auditions, nurturing mental strength, and so much more!

He elaborates on...

  • How his artistic path began, and how it has unfolded (3:28)
  • The importance of music education and its availability in public schools (5:17)
  • How to make your practice more effective by having fun and finding creative solutions to your audition problems (6:48)
  • The game-changing effect mindful clarity and preparation has on your musicianship, and how to turn doubts into helpful stories (13:14)
  • His summary of the most important parts of the audition process, and how your practice regimine can shift with time and experience (19:34)
  • Thoughts on trusting in your work and overcoming self-doubt (29:06)
  • What his career looks like now, and what he has found surprising (32:52)
  • Habits that contributed to his success, advice for young musicians, and his latest practice-related interests (34:20)
  • Finally, Ralph shares some of the resources he has created for musicians (see the “Links” section for more information) (40:42)




Little Scores for Audition Success” by Ralph Skiano

Behind the Screen: A Winner’s Guide to Preparing Your Next Audition” by Ralph Skiano

Instagram: @DetroitClarinet



I’m excited to tell you that Practicing for Peak Performance is now available for download! Go to for access to all the tools that will help you transform your practice, gain confidence in your process, and start performing at your best. 

With the purchase of PPP, you gain:

  • Access to all recorded content - over 7 hours of instruction
  • Guidance in effective high-performance systems
  • Detailed handouts
  • For a limited time only, a free 30-minute consultation with me.

PPP alumnus Karmen Palusoo has this to say about it:

For a long time I have had this belief that learning an instrument is difficult and hard work or that it has to be, and there is no other way. Only a few weeks after PPP, I am starting to feel that change! My everyday practice sessions are now filled with freedom and ease!”



A HUGE thank you to my fantastic producer, Bella Kelly, who works really hard to make this podcast as pleasant to listen to as possible for you.

Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme.  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Thank you to pianist-singer-song-writer Louise Kelly for the introduction!  You can find out more about Kelly and her creative work by visiting



As we head into this new season, I encourage you to visit for a plethora of resources on mindful practice and information on how to work with me.

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