Chicago freelance clarinetist, and Northwestern University Senior Lecturer of Clarinet, Leslie Grimm, gives insight into her studies with Arnold Jacobs. Jacobs helped to free up her breathing, both the inhalation and exhalation. Grimm had previously studied respiration from other teachers but remained very unsure about what was the correct path to pursue. She began to realize that how we function as humans was where she should focus, which is what Jacobs did for her. Using anthesia bags, spirometers in Jacobs’ studio helped Grimm to realize that she was actually capable breathing more fully AND more freely. Watching the bag become smaller and larger simulated having a lung outside of the body. It’s important to get air to the front of the mouth (reed). Jacobs’ nuance for Grimm (as a clarinetist) was not that she needed to use massive amounts of air, but it was always about how free the air could be when it gets to the clarinet. Jacobs got Grimm to exhale more freely. He taught her to exhale freely from the mouth and then apply that activity to the clarinet. Blowing out the candle variation from Jacobs was “bend the flame” rather than blowing out the flame. Air thickness and speed, vowel sounds. Woodwind players lip buzzing. Tight gut method and its dangers. Long-term tension is not good. Jacobs worked with Grimm on changing course away from the tight gut, compression battle.
Metropolitan Opera principal tubist, Chris Hall, describes his experiences with Arnold Jacobs both directly and through his teachers, who were also students of Mr. Jacobs. At his first lesson Mr. Jacobs stopped Chris after about six notes and talked about utilizing more vowel to help develop a better tone. Jacobs had Hall verbalize “Kee…Kee Hoo…Kee Kee Kee…Hoo.” The use of different vowels – Ahh, Ooh, Uhh – is discussed. In order to give a visual reference to his sound, Jacobs demonstrated for Chris on Chris’ tuba and instructed him to watch the oscilloscope waves on the monitor in the studio. Hall remarked at how much more robust Jacobs’ wave was than his own, which was highly instructional. Another of Hall’s favorite Jacobs moments was when Jacobs would have Chris put his hand on Jacobs sternum and stomach areas while Jacobs would breathe deeply to encourage Chris to learn to use both regions of the breathing apparatus…a universal breath rather than a regional breath. Hall kept returning for lessons because each lesson he experienced vast improvement and was inspiring to him. Also, it was not lost on him that the 2,000 to 3,000 other students of Jacobs couldn’t be wrong. Jacobs worked to make Chris’ mechanics more efficient, basic things were covered in his lessons. Jacobs taught to the student and not to a method. … Breathe in the character of what you are going to play. Don’t lock up before making your entrance. Keep the air moving both in and out. No hesitation. Jacobs encouraged Hall to think less actively. Be dumb. Use your intelligence for the art of communication rather than trying to control the body. Hall describes Jacobs’ use of the technique of distraction in order to affect change in the student, to help the student achieve improvement. When asked to encapsulate his study with Jacobs in one thought, Chris said, “Air past the lips.” Think long? Think long. In other words, don’t think too much. Don’t analyze while while playing. Lew Soloff said quoting Jacobs, “When you’re playing, you’re the teacher. When you’re playing, you’re not the student.” React to pressure with flow. Don’t react to pressure with more pressure. Hall said Jacobs told him, “Low notes are slower air but more of it. Higher notes are faster air but less of it.” High notes should not be an Olympic event.
Toby Hanks first heard about Arnold Jacobs from Bill McNeiland in 1960 or 1961 while living in Texas. Jacobs was described as a teacher who was able to make astounding progress with his students. Hanks was persuaded to seek out studies with Jacobs. His first lesson was filled several compliments and a “but”; Hanks was working too hard. Jacobs used a few tools to show Hanks how he was using unneeded pressure/states of strength. Jacobs knew of Hanks’ financial distress so he ended up supplying some of the etude books and did not charge Hanks for those first couple of lessons. Jacobs explained to Hanks the basic respiration function, including diaphragmatic use. The most memorable aspect of those early lessons for Hanks was what one is thinking of while playing. Go to the control panel rather than the component level of thinking. Think about what you want to sound like instead of how to make your body function. Use imitation as a tool for learning. Have clear thoughts of what you want to sound like, what you are trying to accomplish. Be somewhat unconscious of the body use. Hanks was able to improve immediately when he would imitate Jacobs, but less successful when he thought on the body component level. Hanks observed over his time of study with Jacobs that his pedagogical approach evolved over the years. Jacobs was “a learning person.” Jacobs expertise in the psychology of playing was equal to that of his respiratory knowledge. Ease off on the physical effort and you’ll see a better musical result. One cannot self analyze while playing. Jacobs studied some of the best players in the world, including his colleagues in the Chicago Symphony. Jacobs used different devices to create situations of incentive with the idea of taking attention off of the body and placing it on the goal. Get away from the instrument, accomplish several different tasks and then apply those procedure memories to the tuba, resulting in maximizing results while minimizing physical efforts. Isometric contractions. Unnecessary effort, which has no helpful result. After his first summer of study with Jacobs, Hanks experienced very positive feedback from his Lamar College colleagues who were very complimentary of his playing. Singing, mouthpiece playing were integral parts of his lesson. Get a better picture in your mind. It’s not your lip, it’s what you are doing with your mind. Hanks described a couple of post-CSO concert, and LA Philharmonic during which Jacobs would become very excited to share his knowledge of respiration. Focal dystonia. Jacobs was not able help Hanks with dystonia, though it was not yet assigned that label/diagnosis. Jacobs was a blend of a scientist, a musician, and a nice older man. Jacobs never coached Hanks on music except when trying to get Hanks to imitate in order to get a better product. Jacobs believed that Hanks’ playing problems stemmed from Jacobs’ perception that Hanks played too much in the high register, as related to his time spent in the middle and lower registers, thereby increasing air-pressures leading to increased tension states. Hanks didn’t think Jacobs’ assessment was correct as it related to his dystonic situation. Jacobs’ approach as a teacher was to apply individualized curriculum based upon his assessment of the individual. He did not teach in a cookie-cutter manner. Hanks offered his observations of Bobo and Jacobs and their playing.
The original Milwaukee Symphony principal tubist, Val Hayworth sheds some light on studying with Arnold Jacobs during the 1960s.
Kansas City Symphony trombonist, Wyatt Henderson shares how his initial lessons with Jacobs were completely opposite of what he was expecting. Jacobs focused on the connection of the musician’s brain to the lip, the mental aspects and mental stimulus. Jacobs used specific repertoire and musical styles to teach Henderson how to improve his embouchure and skills on the trombone. But what surprised Henderson was that Jacobs did not focus on breathing at all, but rather music. The relationship between air flow and air pressure was discussed in lessons, as well as letting Henderson’s “good notes teach the bad notes.” His studies with Frank Crisafulli and how they compared and contrasted to Jacobs’ teaching is explored in this interview. How Jacobs and Crisafulli developed their highly projective tone colors is also discussed. Henderson reveals how his study of the martial art, Aikido, complements what he learned from Jacobs about controlling ones thoughts and focus. In the epilogue, more is explored about the methods that Jacobs used to get Henderson to increase his air-flow while lowering the air-pressure, thereby helping to create a greater ease in playing.
Retired Los Angeles Philharmonic trumpeter and USC trumpet professor, Boyde Hood discusses his studies with Arnold Jacobs, which were from1967-1970. At his initial lesson with Jacobs, Hood was convinced that he was studying with someone who knew what he was talking about with regard to respiration, psychology and physiology. Breathing is simple. Take a breath and blow. Hoh (or hO). Ah (or aH). The body should be relaxed. Tension in the body is counter-productive to playing well with good sound. Sternal/sternum collapse…bellows activity. Universal breath rather than a regional breath. Breathing tube…3/4-inch inner diameter. Breathe unimpeded. Air is always in motion. The natural connection of inward and outward air, similar to talking and breathing. Between relaxed air movement and hO, his first lesson completely changed Mr. Hood’s way of thinking. He was also reminded of the benefits of mouthpiece playing. Get a dental impression made just in case you have an accident involving your teeth. Lesson # 1 – breathe and blow and practice the mouthpiece. Hood returned to Jacobs’ studio because he was so taken by what he had learned in the initial hour that he couldn’t wait to get back. During his third or fourth lesson with Jacobs, Hood asked Jacobs a question centered on a respiratory issue he had noticed with many of his female students at Ball State University. In the interview, Hood explains that in that era, brass players (both male and female) were taught to keep the shoulders and sternum lowered and to breath from the abdominal region. Using male and female medical anatomical charts, Jacobs showed Hood why it is so critical for especially females to take a full (bellows/universal) breath due to some of the reproductive organs that take up space below the diaphragmatic region, which in turn limits the amount of diaphragmatic descent possible during an inhalation, which in turn reduces the total amount of air possible to be inhaled. Hood went back to Ball State and explained this to his female students and subsequently worked with them to free up their breathing apparatus by allowing inter-costal expansion (chest expansion) as a result of breathing, helping to minimize or eliminate upper respiratory (throat) constriction/tension. Follow the rules of the body. Know what you want to sound like. If you can’t hear it you can’t play it. Hear it and get out of the way of the body. Mr. Hood’s mouthpiece playing was not limited to melodies, though Jacobs preferred a dominance of melodies, or to think of exercises not as such but as melodies. Jacobs began to refer students in Southern California to Mr. Hood for help if they were not able to get to Chicago. Trumpet, trombone, horn, tuba, baritone…don’t think about it. Allow your body to respond…the basic process of procedure. If you think about air pressures and such, you are putting your thoughts in the wrong place. “It didn’t matter that Jake was a tuba player and I was a trumpet player. The point was that the concept was the important thing and following the laws of the body.” Trim the fat off the bone. Herseth that the CSO sounded the way it did because of Jacobs. Jacobs said that he felt that Bud was the perfect brass player. Several stories about Adolph “Bud” Herseth, and the Chicago Symphony.
Houston Symphony trumpeters, Mark Hughes and Robert Walp, provide the TPTV audience with an epic length, and unique set of memories and observations about Arnold Jacobs, Adolph Herseth, and Vincent Cichowicz, as teachers and performers. Hughes and Walp recount impressions of some of their early Chicago Symphony concert experiences, including projection of tone by Jacobs. Walp shares what his initial set of lessons was like. Working less and using imagination in a strongly intentional way was a favorite of the lively discussion. Walp illustrated how strongly Jacobs felt about the study of music (not breathing) was the core of his teaching. Physical coordination and tongue placement were part of Walp’s curriculum. Jake’s decision to always sound great while a Curtis student is described. Herseth’s exhortation to play the right notes all the time even if you have to spend time playing them very slowly for a period of time, so as to develop successful performance habits. The subjects of physical efficiency, singing, mouthpiece buzzing (playing) and dependence upon the mind, being sure the player has a message are all discussed. “Herseth put butts in seats.”
Tubist Greg Irvine discusses his role as THE teacher of brass at University of Prince Eward Island (Canada), and how his studies with Mr. Jacobs (as well as Rex Martin) helped prepare him for the unusual role of teaching high brass as well as low brass.
The following TPTV episode is what was presented at the 2016 International Tuba Euphonium Conference. The episode is comprised of clips from previously released material featuring the following artists:
David Fedderly – As you learn the music you’ll learn the instrument. It’s all about the music.
Rex Martin – Establish excellence in everything you play, everyday!
Patrick Sheridan – Establish a great approach, everyday!
Peter Wahrhaftig – Fuel the buzz through better articulations – tAH tOH not Tah Toh
Robert Carpenter – Air in motion at the lips
Chris Hall – Air past the lips
Daniel Perantoni – Blow from the lips
Oystein Baadsvik – Breathe more deeply and stay away from the residual air. Establish your performance habits in the top two-thirds of the lung capacity, not the bottom two-thirds. Let the air do the “heavy lifting” rather than the embouchure.
Dr. Gregory Irvine – Large breaths and avoiding the Valsalva maneuver. Don’t cap your breath with the glottis. Keep the airway open.
Megan Tiedt-Reed – Strive to hear louder in your head the sound that you want to produce with the instrument. Don’t rely on the embouchure musculature, instead concentrate on the sound in the mind. Don’t change a poor habit, replace it with a good one. Establish excellence one note at a time. Compare yourself to great artists, not to your peer-group.
Charles Daellenbach – How important is it to have a “correct” embouchure? Not very.
Become an expert on the mouthpiece and playing the instrument will become easy.
Toby Hanks – Put your thoughts on the product you want from the instrument. Imitate. In general, be as unconscious of your physical maneuvers on the tuba as you would be when you sing something as simple as “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
Gary Ofenloch – Putting emotion into music. Letting your thoughts guide the music. Mind over meat. Thoughts over lip. Music first
St. Louis Symphony hornist, Thomas Jostlein, describes lessons with Arnold Jacobs. Jacobs encouraged Jostlein to sing more in the mind, as well as to utilize his air more fully and efficiently. He also discussed his studies with Jacobs protégé, Roger Rocco and the increased emphasis on singing in the mind while playing. Brass players must have pitch in the mind as well as tone color, not just color, or else the body is confused, Rocco told him. Imagination and imitation helped lead the topic of listening to recordings intimately and then using them as a source of imitation. Also, recording one’s practice and then listening to the playback later was encouraged rather than listening (and analyzing) while playing. Discussion about building phrases one note at a time and the importance of being a being a motor nerve musician rather than a receptor never musician rounded out the interview.
Celebrated tuba performer and professor, Fritz Kaenzig shares several of his Arnold Jacobs lesson experiences. Having studied with Jacobs for 25 years, Kaenzig describes the ways in which he developed increased resonance on the tuba, and the evolution of Mr. Jacobs’ pedagogy.
NYC/Broadway tubist, Morris Kainuma talks about his lessons with Mr. Jacobs. The initial lesson was spent focusing on thinking and conceiving in a more musical manner, and less on the mechanical aspects of playing. Jacobs demonstrated on Kainuma’s tuba piquing his interest. Jacobs asked Kainuma to think and conceptualize one note, take a breath, and then play keeping that conceptualization strong in his thoughts. Relaxation. Ease. Use the “O” vowel more. Use existing speech patterns to more clearly annunciate the “t” articulation.
Los Angeles trumpeter, Robert Karon encountered Arnold Jacobs in 1976 at the recommendation of some friends. Jacobs noticed that Karon was not exhaling normally, but instead squeezing the air out. Jacobs suggested Karon use the “poh” technique and also using an empty (and clean) bread bag to fill it with air and then re-breathe it for five cycles. This helped Karon to use his air more normally. Don’t worry about making mistakes, Jacobs said. Jacobs gave Karon a primer on repertory function. You don’t want to keep your stomach area tense, firm, or tight. The trumpet is on the outside of your face not on the inside so blow wind from the lips (not the gut, or other places inside the body). Jacobs utilized pinwheels as goals to objectify airflow. You cannot unlearn a habit, you must learn a new habit and use it replace the old, non-desirable habit. Jacobs had Karon singing using Solfeggio, playing the mouthpiece, whistling, and playing the trumpet. His studies with Jacobs continued until 1989. Over time his lessons with Jacobs began to change moving away from breathing and toward musical thought using imitation and conception. There are two instruments: one in your head and one in your hands. The one in your head is the important one. Player piano roll relationship. Concentrate on the sound and musical interpretation. Subdue the self-awareness while playing and increase the concept in the mind while playing. Let the music teach the mechanics. Air pressure versus airflow. Think flow, not pressure. Loud is faster air. Soft is slower air. It’s the flow – the blow. Airflow should be windy. Karon discusses studying with a tuba player. Jacobs would sometimes demonstrate for Karon on his trumpet. Mouthpiece playing was an oft-used activity in lessons. Deep breathing. Many different types of musicians studied with Jacobs. A story about Karon riding with Herseth, Jacobs, and Phil Smith to a CSO run out. International Brass Conference II, LA Brass Quintet. A friendship developed over the years. Star Trek. TrumpetBob.com
Chicagoland attorney, psychologist, and French horn player, Dr. Sheldon Kirshner shares his memories of working with Mr. Jacobs for 30 years. Kirshner discusses the importance of using imitation in learning how to play. He stresses that Mr. Jacobs worked tirelessly to create a lesson environment in which the student could thrive. “He wanted to encourage you” remarks Kirshner. Don’t play in the past, play in the future is a concept discussed. Dr. Kirshner was a longtime friend to Mr. Jacobs, and so was able to experience a side of Jacobs not often seen.
Former Savannah Symphony and Charleston Symphony principal trumpeter, Edward Kuhn talks about his Jacobs lessons.
Florida’s Space Coast Symphony principal tubist, Eric Lee describes his first couple of lessons as being very surreal to be in the presence of Arnold Jacobs. He was impressed with the Jacobs aura. Lee comments on how Jacobs was able to diagnose issues so quickly. Jacobs noticed that Lee was “starving” his embouchure and so recommended more, thicker, air at the lips, and more song in the head. Immediate improvement ensued. Lee said that Jacobs was able to normalize/stabilize his playing and then subsequent studies were mainly spent on musical interpretation. Tuba students were routinely required to learn to read treble clef (Trumpet Arban, Pottag Horn Melodious Etudes, Charlier, Top Tones), so as not to limit yourself as a musician. Tuba music often has limited challenges, so learning treble clef music – horn, trumpet, oboe, etc. – would breed a deeper musician. Jacobs used a decibel meter to develop consistent loud playing produced with more ease. Better results with less effort. Jacobs would also use the decibel meter in all dynamic levels to help develop even control of dynamics on the instrument. Jacobs liked using it because it would help focus the attention of the student on the external rather than the internal. Lee claims that Jacobs was a trend-setter doing things pedagogically that hadn’t been done before. He also pointed out that Jacobs approached his teaching with individualized curricula, tailored to the student he was working with at that moment. Jacobs had a very strong sense of music and pitch in his thoughts. Story about a tuner needle standing at attention when Jacobs played.
University of North Texas tuba professor, Donald Little’s first lesson with Arnold Jacobs was also his first lesson with a tubist. While a student at Peabody, Little studied with a trombonist. At that first lesson, Jacobs encouraged Little not to worry much about the embouchure. Don described the major influences Jacobs gave him: to play vocally in a singing style. Little shared his reflections on how Jacobs’ pedagogical focus changed over the years toward a more music focus, and less on the technical side of things. The other influence on Little were the hundreds of Chicago Symphony concerts he heard and how those sounds remain vivid in his memory and concept. Mr. Little shares a tuba story. The tuba is a beautiful Holton York copy that he bought from Mr. Jacobs.
Through his own personal study with Jacobs, as well as the unparalleled examination of 500 hours of Arnold Jacobs lesson tapes shared with him by others, Dr. Luis Loubriel discusses the evolution of Mr. Jacobs’ pedagogy over a 31 year period.
At the encouragement of trumpeter Boyde Hood, Sande MacMorran had his first lessons with Arnold Jacobs in 1969. He was able to take monthly lessons with Jacobs for a period of time driving up to Chicago from Ball State University (his final lesson was in 1970). MacMorran played standard etudes (Tyrell, Kopprasch, Bordogni/Rochut, etc.) and orchestral excerpts in his first lessons. Jacobs advised him to use more air while playing. Jacobs was against keeping the gut tight or firm when playing. He would have MacMorran feel his tummy area while Jacobs was playing to be able to sense the “jelly belly” aspect. Jacobs demonstrated on the tuba a fair amount. Jacobs did not talk much about specific physical application such as how to place the mouth or other similar things. From his perch in the audience of Chicago Symphony concerts, MacMorran observed quite a bit about Jacobs’ practical application of breathing fully but quickly. At some point MacMorran had some instability in his embouchure in the middle register. MacMorran was concerned about it, but Jacobs assigned an etude to deal with it rather than work directly with the embouchure itself. Over time, the issue resolved without MacMorran even noticing. Mouthpiece playing was part of his lesson regimen with Jacobs. MacMorran had some questions about that based upon his prior education in music education. Free buzzing is discussed. He encouraged MacMorran to buzz etude fragments, intervals, and small amounts of the music. Jacobs instructed MacMorran to alternate playing the tuba with playing the mouthpiece to be able to hear the immediate improvement on a passage that the buzzing would bring about. Singing. Sing a line. Sing in your head. Jacobs was clear and basic in approach to teaching. He did explain some physiological things, but he worked with who the student was. Jacobs didn’t have his own published set of exercises or studies. Jacobs was able Jacobs was an inspirational figure to MacMorran at a crucial time in his life. Developing low register was achieved by playing “down there”; by playing Rochut’s down two octaves. MacMorran recalls hearing a CSO concert in Wisconsin of Pictures at an Exhibition, which was particularly stunning. That concert prompted MacMorran to begin collecting LPs in earnest. Reiner’s readings of Nevsky, Pictures, and Wagner are among his favorites.
In a lively and extended conversation, Rex Martin shares his wide array of experiences with, and memories of Arnold Jacobs. Focus topics include Martin’s lessons with Mr. Jacobs, hearing Jacobs’ sound for the first time, performing with the Chicago Symphony, his time with Bud Herseth, and how Jacobs stressed reaching for the highest standards possible, and how that path came from Adolph Herseth. Martin also reflects on Jacobs’ pedagogical philosophy and how it is continuing on into the future.
Michael Moore, Atlanta Symphony Principal Tubist, talks about his studies with Arnold Jacobs. Moore made regular treks to Chicago over the course of two and a half decades; orchestral excerpts were a regular subject, as well as the phenomenon of wind, air pressures, playing the mouthpiece, paralysis by analysis, and air use. Jacobs’ pedagogical habit of treating the student as an individual was also discussed.
Ron Munson first encountered Arnold Jacobs in 1959 at the Gunnison, Colorado Music Festival. He was astounded by what he heard from Mr. Jacobs’ tuba. Jacobs played the tuba as if it were a cello. It made a huge impact on Munson as he spent the next many months trying to imitate that sound. Munson studied with Jacobs on an ad hoc basis as often as their mutual schedules would allow. In one particular lesson, Jacobs exhorted him to develop a more substantial tone. Jacobs helped Munson to do so by getting him to use more air. Eventually Munson began to feel the symptoms of focal dystonia in the early 1970s. It initially affected him in the lower register. Munson sought out Jacobs’ help. The medical community had not yet developed any sort of diagnosis for the symptoms of focal dystonia. Jacobs encouraged Munson to find the points in his playing that are good sounding and use them as models for the areas that are not good. Through much practicing, Munson was able to enjoy a productive career in spite of his symptoms. Munson believes that dystonia can be worked through, and is at its heart, stress related. Munson’s last lesson with Jacobs was in 1972. While Munson was in the USMC Band “The President’s Own” they were on tour in Cincinnati and happened to be staying in the same hotel as the Chicago Symphony, who was also on tour in Cincinnati. Jacobs made a point to find Munson and have a brief meeting. Munson heard the CSO live at Ravinia one summer playing Gotterdamerung excerpts. Munson said that Jacobs sounded the same live as he did on the Reiner recording. Munson mentioned Jacobs being a key speaker at a medical convention in the 1960s as a recognized respiration excerpt.
St. Louis Symphony Principal Trombonist, Timothy Myers, recounts his studies with Arnold Jacobs during the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. Myers’ initial lesson was helpful in getting more air to the lips via reduced tension and increased air-flow. Myers describes his sound as being “freer”. He also talks about a type of dependence he discovered he had with studying with Jacobs and how he dealt with that discovery. Myers relates his thoughts about studying with longtime-Chicago Symphony trombonist, Frank Crisafulli. Tone projection as it relates to the concept of “stage makeup” was also a topic. Mr. Myers shares his thoughts on the intrinsic Jacobs tension — learning about the physical aspects of playing, but then being instructed by Jake to “forget about all that and just ‘sing’.” Playing Bruckner 5 with the Chicago Symphony in a concert for Pope John Paul II was a highlighted memory. In a postscript, Tim talks about the famous St. Louis Low Brass Collective.