Professionals from orchestras throughout the world travel to Chicago to see Jacobs for one of his finest specialties, dealing with the body’s natural aging process. Many come to him with their career in jeopardy. Many say, “I would not be playing now if it were not for Arnold Jacobs.”
A person’s pulmonary functions and lung capacity will peak at eighteen to twenty-one years of age. Afterwards there is a downward curve—a loss of lung capacity that continues for the rest of a person’s life. Lung capacity decreases due to the calcification of the costal cartilages and the loss of elasticity, which becomes noticeable in the middle forty age bracket. With illness, lung capacity can also be dramatically changed. Additionally, pressure in the throat and difficulty with the tongue increases with age. Due to the physiological changes, psychological changes follow.
Jacobs advises, “When you get older, your body changes. The time comes when you must learn to use your body differently. It’s like learning to play a new instrument. If you become frightened about loss of air, your muscles will tense and you will cut off even more air. For a singer or a wind player, you must have confidence in your capacity to properly use air or you are lost. It is a lot like driving a car. Some cars need to be filled up when they get down to one quarter of a tank. The human body is like that too. As you get older, you must change the way you breathe to correspond with your needs.
One’s vital capacity lowers without the individual realizing it. If he is using limited amounts of air—say he is used to taking half a breath, the air that he may draw from that fuel supply may be adequate to play his instrument at the age of twenty, but not at forty-five or fifty or fifty-five. When the fuel supply lowers, the half that he gets is a smaller quantity than it was at twenty, and one can run into very severe problems.”