Former Chicago Symphony trombonist, Robert Rada, gives insight into his studies with Arnold Jacobs during the late 1940s through the early 1950s. Being able to sing through the assignments was a key requirement of Jacobs. He offers his opinion as to how Jacobs became so focused (and successful with) creating such an amazing tuba tone. Rada also sheds light on the low brass section of the Chicago Symphony during the Reiner era, as well as the poor economics of being in the CSO at that time. The audition process of that era is also covered in this interview.
Phoenix-area tubist, Megan Reed describes her studies with Arnold Jacobs during the 1990s. Her first lessons were filled with discussion about listening to the song much more loudly in the mind while playing. Mouthpiece playing and singing were a strength when she initially came to him, but once the tuba became involved her thinking would change. Jacobs thought Reed was relying too much on the musculature and not enough on the better motivation of thinking the music while playing the instrument
Roger Rocco (Part 1)
Roger Rocco shares his experiences in lessons with, and on stage sitting next to, Arnold Jacobs in the Chicago Symphony. The power of the mind, the symbiotic relationship that Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Herseth enjoyed, keeping the teaching and performing hats separate, “transcending the tuba,” as well as focal dystonia comprise this first segment with Mr. Rocco.
In this second segment, Roger Rocco discusses his experiences teaching players of all wind instruments. He talks about how the focus should be on the sound and not on air pressure or air flow, etc. Go for the product not the blowing, he states. He insists that the sound should always be the motivating factor. Rocco also describes the evolution of Mr. Jacobs’ pedagogy. He also gives insight into the relationship that Bud Herseth and Arnold Jacobs shared in the CSO. Rocco also shares some memories of working with Sir Georg Solti and the making of the Grammy Award winning recording of Symphony Fantastic from 1972.
Robert Rusk discusses American band instrument production history, including the legendary York Band and Instrument Company and its manufacture of its tuba line. He also talks about his practice of converting select BBb tubas into CC.
St. Louis Symphony principal tubist, Michael Sanders gives TPTV his thoughts on Arnold Jacobs. He was first introduced and attracted to Jacobs through the recordings of the Chicago Symphony with Fritz Reiner. In his initial lesson, Jacobs was attempting to help Sanders become more aware of playing with consistent resonance. Jacobs also recommended that Sanders begin playing tunes on the mouthpiece rather than “just making sounds”; play simple tunes. Using a decibel meter as a visual motivator, Jacobs worked on getting Sanders to play with a consistent tone at a steady volume. Imitation as a learning tool, using simple commands to govern complex physiological function, use of psychology, and the importance of placing a dominance of thought in the art form when playing, were all discussed. Sanders credits the role Seiji Ozawa played in Sanders making the decision to see Mr. Jacobs. Mike also, talks about his studies with former Chicago Symphony hornist, Wayne Barrington. Puddles was initially wary of Gus, Sanders’ canine companion, but we all became fast friends.
Lynn University trombone professor, and former Dallas Brass tubist, Dan Satterwhite shares how he was first exposed to the ideas of Arnold Jacobs via his studies with Charles Vernon at the Brevard Music Center. He then moved to Chicago and began studies with Jacobs directly. He played in his first lesson to which Jacobs asked him what was he thinking about when he was playing. Jacobs determined that Satterwhite was not thinking of the sound strongly enough and was distracted by other physical manipulations. Making the registers even. The vowel sounds were not consistent in his singing, which was affecting his sound on the trombone. Satterwhite returned for more lessons in order to find and correct other parts of his playing, such as breathing (breathe to expand, don’t expand to breathe). Satterwhite described the relaxed, efficient breathing motion that Jacobs would demonstrate. Satterwhite tells the story of his final lesson with Jacobs which was taken on tuba. Satterwhite’s prepared material proved to be not enough to fill the hour so Mr. Jacobs provided more, in the form of the Top Tones for Trumpet by Walter Smith, #15. “I found that I was playing what sounded good to me, but not what was reflected on the page” commented Satterwhite. “You have to be a great actor” Jacobs told him. At the end, Jacobs treated Satterwhite to a cadenze on his tuba. Satterwhite said the sound was as clear as could be even though Jacobs was clearly not in good health.
North Carolina School of the Arts Professor of Trumpet, Judith Saxton, talks about how Mr. Jacobs helped her to move her respiration into the correct direction. She had developed a reverse way of breathing – the tight gut/isometric approach was Saxton’s way of breathing. Rigidity and tension. Jacobs encouraged Saxton to use her excellent voice technique as a psychological focus while playing. He wanted her to connect her singing voice to her trumpet voice. Imitation of other great artists…using the imagination greatly. Jacobs encouraged Saxton to mouthpiece buzz with great style. He also had her hold the mouthpiece with her non-dominant hand to introduce even more strangeness. Jacobs exhorted her to keep her standards high no matter where she was performing. High register playing – Tee Yah. Compression of the air. Taking larger breaths and then using the air actively…let the lungs deflate rather than holding on to the air. Take a “surprised” breath rather than a “bearing down” breath. Jacobs introduced various breathing exercises to Saxton. Psychology of movement. Piccolo trumpet work and the air/breath was mentioned. Jacobs asked Saxton to merge her story-telling thoughts with the full bow aspect of the breath. Maintain a sense of vibration. The 7th cranial nerve and laryngeal nerve source is the same for both. Using physical movement to help train the brain.
Longtime Chicago Symphony trumpeter (1964-1998), Will Scarlett began his studies with Arnold Jacobs in 1956. “Jacobs turned me around physically, the way Herseth turned me around musically.” Mr. Scarlett described how Jacobs helped him to get away from the “tight gut” method and put him on the road to a more relaxed approach. Because of his surprisingly large lung capacity, Mr. Scarlett served as the impetus for Mr. Jacobs to embark on a research project identifying and cataloguing lung capacities as related to body somatotype (body shape). Scarlett shared his observations about Mr. Jacobs’ pedagogical approach over his course of study. He also talked about his time as a member of the CSO trumpet section. Using imitation as a teaching/learning tool was also a part of the conversation. Herseth’s and Jacobs’
pre-concert practice habits was described. “Every time he (Herseth) took the horn out of his case and played a note, it was good enough for the concert.” The most important part of the warm-up is not getting the lip going but rather turning the mind on. Scarlett talked about how the
CSO brass section was a team. He also reflected upon other CSO colleagues such as Vincent Cichowicz and Ed Kleinhammer.
New York City freelance trombonist (and tubist), Jack Schatz, talks about his path to studying with Arnold Jacobs. His initial exposure to Jacobs’ ideas was via lessons with Steve Norrell. His initial lessons with Jacobs were filled with similar materials he had encountered with Mr. Norrell, but in “3-D”. Jack’s reduced air capacity was a mystery for Jacobs. Given Jack’s height and age, he should have had at least 6 liters, but he tested out as only 4.5 liters. Jacobs couldn’t put his finger on what was going on. Jacobs was able to get Schatz to think about playing in ways he had never experienced. Visualization was a large part of Mr. Jacobs’ approach with Schatz. “Everything we play should be music.” There should be strong conceptions in the mind of the trombone sound and artistry from the outset. Think of yourself as a musician not a trombone player. Jacobs also talked with Schatz about facial muscular anatomy. A few months later Schatz had a routine physical, which revealed a large tumor, which was limiting his lung capacity. Later Schatz shared with Jacobs what had happened and that he had lost one of his phrenic nerves. Jacobs was tremendously interested in each detail of his surgery. Post-surgery, Jacobs encouraged him to build strength in the diaphragm especially because of his condition. As a result, breathing exercises are a significant part of his Jack’s daily practice. “He [Jacobs] basically saved me.” Jacobs had Schatz buzz the mouthpiece and especially into the spirometer, with the idea of developing an efficient embouchure. Buzzing, slow wind all needed to be as efficient as possible with Schatz. Articulation…the shape of the note…the continuity of the air stream. Articulation…the shape of the note…the continuity of the air stream.
Baylor University trumpet lecturer, Mark Schubert, details his two lessons with Arnold Jacobs. Originally it was to be a set of six lessons, but Jacobs’s illnesses didn’t allow for more than the two. Schubert’s initial lesson was preceded by observing and participating in the lesson of the prior student, who was having difficulties beginning notes. Jacobs had the student and Schubert marching around the room in rhythm. Schubert observed that Jacobs’s strategy was helpful. Once Schubert’s own lesson got going, Jacobs worked on having Schubert conceptualize the music prior to starting to play. “Join in” was Jacobs’s encouragement to Schubert. Piccolo trumpet work followed. After a few piccolo excerpts, Jacobs had Schubert play Concone, with a wide vibrato on the piccolo. Jacobs followed that with instruction on breathing. Jacobs asked Schubert to inhale less full; a comfortable breath followed by a “top-off”. Discussion of playing into the bottom third of the air supply ensued. Jacobs encouraged Schubert to train himself to not play into his lung volume reserves. Play on the top two-thirds, leaving the bottom third as a reserve if one needs it in performance. More discussion of piccolo trumpet vibrato…it was used to help Schubert loosen up, and to find the center of the sound. Gradually, Jacobs instructed Schubert to stop the vibrato. “You don’t have to work so hard to play the piccolo,” observed Schubert. Neck wasn’t tight, and shoulders lowered. Weakness is your friend. Arched tongue versus non-arched tongue. Mouthpiece buzzing. Piccolo – “play like a singer”. Simple tunes on the piccolo to show that playing the picc could be easier, not hard. Transferring that ease to more difficult rep. Become efficient. Breathe not just for the phrase but breathe with a reserve in mind. Breathe from the lips, not the oral cavity. Funny Jacobs story – Schubert gave Jacobs a ride on his motorcycle during Chicago rush hour in order to get Jacobs to a radio interview in time. Jacobs was reticent initially, but agreed and ended up enjoying the ride very much…after a while. Baylor University, and trumpet lecturer, Mark Schubert, details his two lessons with Arnold Jacobs. Originally it was to be a set of six lessons, but Jacobs’s illnesses didn’t allow for more than the two. Schubert’s initial lesson was preceded by observing and participating in the lesson of the prior student, who was having difficulties beginning notes. Jacobs had the student and Schubert marching around the room in rhythm. Schubert observed that Jacobs’s strategy was helpful. Once Schubert’s own lesson got going, Jacobs worked on having Schubert conceptualize the music prior to starting to play. “Join in” was Jacobs’s encouragement to Schubert. Piccolo trumpet work followed. After a few piccolo excerpts, Jacobs had Schubert play Concone, with a wide vibrato on the piccolo. Jacobs followed that with instruction on breathing. Jacobs asked Schubert to inhale less full; a comfortable breath followed by a “top-off”. Discussion of playing into the bottom third of the air supply ensued. Jacobs encouraged Schubert to train himself to not play into his lung volume reserves. Play on the top two-thirds, leaving the bottom third as a reserve if one needs it in performance. More discussion of piccolo trumpet vibrato…it was used to help Schubert loosen up, and to find the center of the sound. Gradually, Jacobs instructed Schubert to stop the vibrato. “You don’t have to work so hard to play the piccolo,” observed Schubert. Neck wasn’t tight, and shoulders lowered. Weakness is your friend. Arched tongue versus non-arched tongue. Mouthpiece buzzing. Piccolo – “play like a singer”. Simple tunes on the piccolo to show that playing the picc could be easier, not hard. Transferring that ease to more difficult rep. Become efficient. Breathe not just for the phrase but breathe with a reserve in mind. Breathe from the lips, not the oral cavity. Funny Jacobs story – Schubert gave Jacobs a ride on his motorcycle during Chicago rush hour in order to get Jacobs to a radio interview in time. Jacobs was reticent initially, but agreed and ended up enjoying the ride very much…after a while.
Charles Schuchat discusses his studies with Arnold Jacobs. Mr. Schuchat is professor of tuba and Roosevelt University and the principal tubist of the Elgin Symphony in Illinois.
International tuba artist Patrick Sheridan talks about his first impressions of Arnold Jacobs at the 1984 International Brass Congress II and his initial lessons. Hearing Jacobs’ tone was instructional for Sheridan. He discussed how he (Sheridan) was frustrated at the seemingly slow pace of his first few months of lessons. Jacobs was teaching approach, but Sheridan wanted repertoire. Jacobs required Sheridan to be enrolled in anatomy classes as well as choir at Northwestern before he would teach Patrick. Sheridan described the depth and focus of his lessons. Jacobs was cognitively interested in what Sheridan was listening to. Jacobs was adamant that Sheridan begin a studio to teach students. Patrick shared how Jacobs did not expose him to many of the gadgets in the studio because Jacobs believed it would become a distraction for Sheridan. Jacobs developed a curriculum for each student rather than make each student fit onto one path. Free buzzing was also a topic. The brain’s plasticity and how Jacobs was ahead of the curve by applying that information in his own teaching was a subject. Sheridan talked about Jacobs’ week-long residency with the United States Marine Band in 1991 and how it changed the sound of the band. The headline of that week for Patrick was that in the corporate world, professional development was (and is) a normal activity, but in the music business that
concept is largely foreign. Summing up his time with Jacobs, Sheridan said the two main things he got was, 1) Tone: how to make it, how to be resonant, and how to hear it from under the bell, 2) Sing a song on every note. Every note one plays should have a word attached to it in the
Retired St. Louis Symphony principal trumpeter, Susan Slaughter shares her insight and memories of her studies with Arnold Jacobs. In 1971, Slaughter developed some problems with her playing that she was not able to solve and was referred to Jacobs by her principal horn colleague, Roland Pandolfi. She did not hesitate and made an appointment with Jacobs. After listening to Slaughter describe her problem, Jacobs immediately worked with her breathing. He measured her lung capacity. He then used an incentive spirometer-like device to have her working on her inhalations and exhalations to make them more full and gentle. She didn’t have a spirometer available to her at home so he suggested she use a tube and a breathing bag (6 liter) for work on normalizing her breathing motions. He told her that it’s not how much air one has but how the air is used. In working with Jacobs, Slaughter noticed that she had developed the habit of working too hard, playing too loudly, especially when encouraged by the full orchestra stage volume. Jacobs suggested that because of her gender she might be equating work efforts associated with childbirth with the work effort/support she was applying to the trumpet. Slaughter said she found that enlightening. Jacobs was encouraging and kind. He encouraged her to NOT think in terms of fortissimo, but rather in terms of mezzo-forte, whether it be a true mezzo-forte, or a “fuller mezzo-forte” or an “even fuller mezzo-forte.” Jacobs used the psychology of moderate/medium work efforts in order to help Slaughter start a new path/approach to playing loudly with less effort/tension. Another item they covered in her initial lesson was making her tone more unified. She was having problems with a couple of notes that (F, G) were not as high quality as the ones surrounding them. He instructed her to use the good sounding notes as the model for the few notes that were less good. Let the good teach the bad. In later lessons, Jacobs wanted Slaughter to work on getting her attacks to have a more pure sound right from the beginning. He also asked her to buzz melodies on the mouthpiece (not exercises) and use lots of vibrato. He was doing this to help find the sweet spot of tone in her playing. Playing melodies on the mouthpiece was helpful to her also to encouraging her musical thinking. She would often put words to the melodies and found that the “song helps the wind work properly.” “We can get caught in the story when we put words to the notes.” Make a statement, don’t ask a question was something Jacobs advised Slaughter when she was on stage. This helped her to develop more confidence and comfort over a period of time. Jacobs would ask her to think of the great sound she would generate in middle of a longer note and then use that sound as the example for her initial articulated sounds. Slaughter didn’t hesitate to seek out Jacobs because he was a tuba player and she a trumpeter. He came so highly recommended from other high brass players. Slaughter always felt welcome and respected by Jacobs. She felt that he always gave her 100% of his attention while she was in the lesson. Slaughter described her overall experience with Jacobs as career saving. He also communicated that she had a lot of talent and he was always reassuring and calming. Slaughter’s experiences as a female brass player during the late 1960s and 1970s was discussed, including many of the demeaning situations she had to deal with, most notably a memorable Zarathustra story involving the conductor Edo de Waart. A brief discussion of Slaughter’s musical influences and trumpet teachers is included in this interview, beginning in high school moving through college, and then as a professional. Slaughter strongly recommends that one should always be open to getting help if/when a problem arises and to be open to trying the ideas of others.
Trumpeter, composer and arranger, Phil Snedecor, credits Arnold Jacobs with saving his trumpet career following his collegiate studies. Jacobs told him that he didn’t have many issues, but that Snedecor to do more performing…”Go play on Wabash.” Jacobs determined that Snedecor was asking questions while playing rather than making statements. Snedecor was in the habit of practicing rehearsing rather than practicing performing. He was asking too many questions while he was playing the trumpet rather than making statements. He initially got into that position from an over-use issue while at Eastman. This triggered some amount of paralysis via his self-analysis. Jacobs encouraged Snedecor to move toward using less back pressure/forcing in his playing. More flow, less back pressure. Jacobs sang quite a bit during Snedecor’s lessons, in his well known stylized way, helping him to get into the “playing music” habit rather than merely playing the notes. Jacobs discouraged Snedecor from undergoing an embouchure change. “The “meat” isn’t important, it’s the music.” Jacobs worked with Snedecor to approach trumpet with as little back pressure as possible to get the results desired. Use less effort and get better results. Keep the air circular in motion. Breathe in and blow out. Don’t hold the air or delay it. Jacobs was very encouraging. Snedecor studied with Jacobs from 1986-1989. Focus on the music. Imparting music, which Snedecor learned from Jacobs, is what has inspired much of Snedecor’s etude writing. “Have fun playing. If you’re not having fun then don’t do it” Jacobs exhorted. In the postscript, Snedecor describes one particular lesson he had with Jacobs in preparation for an audition for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jacobs told Snedecor that he was thinking too much like a trumpet player and that he should think more like an artist.
Trumpet jazz artist, Lew Soloff was in his 20s when he first began studies with Arnold Jacobs. He was referred to Jacobs by fellow trumpeter, Vincent Penzerella. The aging process and breathing more efficiently was covered, as well as the concept of two trumpets – one in the head and one in the hand: Listen to the one in the head. Mouthpiece practice. Use your imagination more. Copy/imitate great artists while you are playing. Communicating with your body using simple commands. Keep it simple. Backwards “oh”. Soloff discusses and demonstrates in detail the breathing studies that Jacobs taught him. Develop that skill away from the horn so when you go back to the trumpet you can concentrate on the music, not the body. Play tunes on the mouthpiece, not drill studies. When you play, you teach. While you are playing only think of the music. Analyze what you do after you’re done playing. For Soloff, Jacobs advised not more than 33% of your practice should be technical. The remaining should be musical. Nobody teaches anybody anything. The role of the teacher is to inspire the students to teach themselves. Herseth said to him “If the musical motivation is high enough and the respiration is correct, a person can play anything” and “One note is worth a thousand words.” More stories about Herseth lessons involving concept, imitation, and individualistic musical approach. Mr. Soloff demonstrates conceptual playing on the mouthpiece and the trumpet. Soloff credits what he
learned from Jacobs as the reason he was still able to play at age 70.
Danish trumpet professor, and author, Kristian Steenstrup talks about the genesis and process of writing his book, Teaching Brass. He decided to write the book because he wanted to back up his own statements about Jacobs’ teaching to his colleagues back home in Aarhus. Steenstrup’s reaction to his first lesson with Jacobs was one of “flying.” He came out of Jacobs’ studio being able to play much better than when he went in. “For Jacobs it was not magic, it was logic” said Steenstrup about Jacobs’ pedagogical practice of programming the brain. Jacobs assigned Solfeggio studies to Steenstrup and had him begin singing much more. Imitation. The voice in the head is the dominant voice. “I never think of such a thing as you can take in too much air” said Steenstrup. Positive relaxation pressures. Full breaths versus shallow breaths. Working less but getting better results. Piccolo trumpet playing. “Screech” trumpet playing. Neuro-plasticity and mental learning. It was almost as if Jacobs was ahead of science. Opening up the tone. Using a lower tongue position/vowel. Letting the lower notes teach the upper notes. Think about sounding great. Jacobs was not about the breathing gadgets but used them because they were so efficient in helping the student effect change quickly. Mouthpiece buzzing. There is an increasing interest in Jacobs’ pedagogy in Europe and South America.
M. Dee Stewart
Indiana University Trombone Professor M. Dee Stewart shares the experience of his first encounter with Arnold Jacobs while in college. Anatomy and mouthpiece buzzing were among the first things covered in Stewart’s initial lessons. Stewart recounts how when he first joined the Philadelphia Orchestra he was criticized for buzzing his mouthpiece, by fellow PO brass players. Fast forward 20-25 years and Stewart described how everyone in the Summit Brass was buzzing their mouthpieces. Stewart, who was the PO bass trombonist tells the story about how Jacobs demonstrated on Stewart’s bass bone a high Eb, showing Dee that the problem with the high notes was not with his trombone but with him. Stewart remembers a Reiner-era CSO performance of Petrouchka and how surprised he was with the audience reaction. Stewart talks about how Jacobs was constantly studying and how that may have influenced his teaching evolution. Jacobs had a musical solution to every problem. The rejection by some of Jacobs’ ideas is discussed. “Listen for the ‘O’ in your sound.” The world-wide affect of the Chicago Symphony brass section led by Herseth and Jacobs is discussed. Program the brain. Why didn’t Jacobs write a book? Stewart talks about the process of writing his book “Arnold Jacobs the Legacy of a Master”. Discussion of the Grammy Award winning Gabrieli album recording process.
In this episode, Michael Stodd discusses his studies with Arnold Jacobs and Vincent Cichowicz. Stodd is principal trumpet of the Berlin Kommische Oper, and an Oregon native.
Bass trombonist, Jeffrey Taylor, talks about his 20+ years of study with Arnold Jacobs from the
mid-’70s to the mid-’90s, as well as the year he spent playing next to Mr Jacobs in the CSO, after Edward Kleinhammer retired in 1985, and prior to Charles Vernon assuming the position in 1986.
Retired U.S. Army Band tubist, John Taylor talks about his studies with Arnold Jacobs. Taylor studied with Jacobs from 1962-1998. During his initial lesson Jacobs played Taylor’s BBb
somewhat extensively giving Taylor an aural example to copy. Music in the head is reflected by the instrument in the hands. Jacobs had two lungs, but diminished use of both. Jacobs was very
generous. Use imitation. Copy how other great artists sound. Imitation. Play with style. One should have an aural concept of music, of how you want things to sound. That’s the basis of music creation. Have the musical concept and then let the body produce the results. Product over method. Jacobs didn’t discuss about embouchure or tonguing. Keep it simple. Play back the mental tape and let the physical aspects happen. Taylor didn’t notice much change in Jacobs’ pedagogical approach. It was always oriented around music. Taylor noted that later in his life, Jacobs used the “gadgets” a bit less or as a last resort. Taylor kept returning to see Jacobs because he loved Jacobs, and that he was always able to get something new from Jacobs. Because the rhythm and pitch of the Chicago Symphony was so good Taylor said playing with them was easy. Jacobs didn’t appear to be dependent upon a pre-concert warm-up ritual, other than playing flashy things with great style. Taylor recounted a story about hearing Jacobs play Bydlo under Jean Martinon. The newspaper critic, Claudia Cassidy, was very complimentary of Jacobs. Taylor demonstrated his championship duck-calling skills.
Legendary Bavarian Opera tubist, and Pennsylvania native, Robert Tucci shares his experiences
studying with Arnold Jacobs during the late-1950s and into the 1960s, as well as the collegial friendship that developed during the following years. Tucci’s initial time with Jacobs was at the
recommendation of Tucci’s first teacher, Harold McDonald. Although Jacobs was famous for teaching respiration, Tucci describes how Jacobs always taught music regardless of the instrument the student in front of him was playing. Tucci’s first course of study covered articulation and rhythmic accuracy, using the Arban and Kopprasch books. During this period of time, Jacobs was using medical terminology heavily in his teaching. Coffee and “wasser” was served by our waiter during the interview providing Mr. Tucci with an opportunity to regale Puddles with many stories. The Jacobs home on Normal being one, and a stolen tuba being another. Tucci attests to the good nature and generosity of Mr. Jacobs. Tucci also talks about his teaching in Vienna and how he noticed that the European brass musician were articulation heavy and how he was able to help the students that came to him add articulation to the sound rather than the articulation starting the sound, which were concepts he took from Jacobs. Mouthpiece and rim buzzing in the men’s room was another story told by Tucci. Following the 1971 Chicago Symphony tour to Vienna, Tucci was given the task of finding hotel accommodations for Jacobs, Cichowicz, and Herseth and their spouses, which, as it turned out, was no easy task. Another story involved Mr. Jacobs’s York tuba and a shoe brush.
Harold Van Schaik
Harold Van Schaik, Florida Orchestra bass trombonist, describes efficiency and reaching full potential in playing. Establishing new (better) habits versus trying to fight existing habits as a general approach is discussed. Also, the application of existing habits of speech rather than trying to micro manage physical maneuvers while playing is explored. Van Schaik gives his observations about what way and why Jacobs’ teaching style/focus changed
from the ’80s into the ’90s.
Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony principal bass trombonist, discusses his studies with Arnold Jacobs as well as his time playing with Mr Jacobs for three seasons in the CSO.
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Principal Tubist, Peter Wahrhaftig shares his observations and
memories of his studies with Arnold Jacobs. Wahrhaftig wasn’t sure what to make of Jacobs during his initial set of lessons, but he was impressed with how Jacobs was able to effect immediate change in Wahrhaftig’s playing during each lesson. Jacobs demonstrated for Peter
often in his early lessons. Jacobs explicitly instructed Peter to imitate himself. Air is the fuel for the buzz. Jacobs mouthpiece buzz was “incredible” filled with great life and buoyancy. “Your
ears were lifted by listening to his sound.” Jacobs’ way of articulation was via – tA or tO. Jacobs taught to replace existing bad habits with good new habits rather than trying to change the poor habits head-on. Jacobs was excellent at taking complex issues and reducing them to a simple solution. Use large quantities of air. PVC ¾ inch tube used for breath training. Buzzing the mouthpiece as a way to train the tone and the tune. Jaocbs’ approach to playing was one of imitating the human voice. Wahrhaftig discusses Jacobs’ phrasing concepts and how they
were based on the Marcel Tabuteau numbering system, as well as note-grouping/micro-phrasing concept. The seventh cranial nerve is the connection, or bridge, between the brain – imagination – and physical manifestation of the musical product/sound. Wahrhaftig believes that Jacobs personalized his teaching based upon the specific needs of each student. Jacobs was amazing at using great knowledge to produce wonderful music. Wahrhaftig’s hypothesis: Jacobs was always thinking and caring about people, which was why he liked music so much, so he could reach people. Jacobs had a great capacity for tracking and teaching the numerous details required to play a brass instrument, but his main focus was always on the musical aspect. Tabuteau’s numbering system for crescendos and diminuendos and the exercises Jacobs developed using that system. Rhythmic breathing exercises and how the sound of the breath is a great guide for developing excellence. Jacobs’ generosity was incredible. Sit Georg Solti’s musical charisma.
Former principal tubist of the Florida Symphony in Orlando, Russ Ward shares his memories of lessons with Mr. Jacobs. One of his most vivid memories is where Jacobs would toss him a pen to catch and then asked Ward to explain what he had just done with his body and calculations
to catch it. He did this in order to illustrate that playing the tuba is similar in that one needs to go for the product of catching the pen rather than the process. Go for the product not the process. Jacobs focused on musician and artistry. He encouraged Ward to grow in those areas. Trumpet playing on tuba. Think trumpet. Ward described the first time he heard Jacobs play the tuba as not what he expected. Ward remarked that hearing Jacobs in the studio was different than on the stage. Playing/buzzing the mouthpiece. Initially Ward was not in to doing it. Eventually he got into and noticed how his tone improved radically, which Ward credits to the buzzing. Buzzing benefits: one doesn’t have the resistance of the horn so more air use is needed, plus the development of aural skills is necessary to become good at it. There is also the ease of practicing various musical styles without the encumbrances of the instrument. Ward describes a last minute call he received to go in and sub for Jacobs on a recording of Mahler’s 2nd with Claudio Abbado. In one passage Ward missed his entrance so Frank Crisafulli stood up got them to go over the passage again, saying that he (Crisafulli) had messed up…he had not, but he took “the hit” for Ward. Postscript: Shosty 4 with CSO and Haitink. Ward describes his experience playing 2nd tuba to Jacobs. Jacobs played in the extremes of loud and soft which was highly instructive for Ward. Jacobs was able to manage his air masterfully and his sub phrasing construction. Jacobs did not warm up because he was always “warmed up.” He knew what he wanted to sound like in his mind and just imitated those thoughts.
Former Honolulu Symphony tubist, Richard Watson describes his studies with Arnold Jacobs beginning in 1972 when he was at University of Michigan, at Jacobs’ house on S. Normal in Chicago. Jacobs demonstrated on Watson’s BBb tuba, much to Watson’s amazement. Jacobs discussed making music by playing the mouthpiece. Make music first without buttons and then transfer that musical conception to the activity with the buttons. It was not an intensively analytical lesson, but instead focused on making music. Watson studied on and off with Jacobs for the next few years, eventually securing a professional position. Watson’s playing started to deteriorate when he began to take his focus off of the musical product and place it on what he was doing physically. Watson began to notice delayed entrances, which took his attention away from the music and on to the physical application. This turned into a full-blown situation where he was not able to play the tuba at a professional level for a period of time. Watson returned to Chicago from Honolulu to work with Jacobs at Northwestern. Jacobs worked with Watson, but Watson was under tremendous internal/psychological pressure, which made it difficult to place his thoughts in the right place for consistent improvement to take place. After his Master’s year he returned to Honolulu but was not playing well. He eventually left the HSO attempting to find his identity. After a period of time Watson hooked up with Roger Rocco, which helped to focus his thinking on simple things – sing, buzz, play. “It’s never fixed.” Don’t correct what’s wrong, establish what’s right. A bad sound can be turned into a good sound, but silence can’t. Work with the sound, not physical aspects. Focal dystonia. Paralysis by analysis. Don’t be a slave to the instrument.
University of Alabama trombone professor, Dr. Jonathan Whitaker, had several lessons (10) with Arnold Jacobs beginning in 1985 (and continuing to 1998). Commuting to Chicago from Murray State University, he and Brian Heath would both get lessons with Jacobs, and also with Ed Kleinhammer. An early lesson focus was the Mahler 3 trombone solo. Clarity of articulation, immediacy of tone. Jacobs demonstrated on Whitaker’s trombone getting instant tone, instant resonance, but without much tongue. Air to the lips. Bordogni/Rochut etude #4. Long line/short
line: Speed of air versus thickness of the air. Whitaker’s main message from Jacobs was more ease in delivery, easy air exchange. Jacobs encouraged Whitaker to lose weight as Whitaker was somewhat overweight during his collegiate years. Whitaker was overworking. Blow freely. Focus primarily on the sound. Jacobs thought Whitaker’s excess weight was getting in the way of playing in a more relaxed manner. Build efficiency habits while young for them to aid during later years. Jacobs had Whitaker play the rim and mouthpiece. Jacobs had Whitaker do a fair amount of speaking, using the established speech patterns to help him get the air to the lips. Jacobs didn’t instruct Whitaker what to do with his body specifically. Whitaker was invited to observe his classmate, Brian Heath’s lessons which were often focused on the art of phrasing. Discussion of lessons with Dee Stewart and Ed Kleinhammer.
Gail Williams talks about the influence Arnold Jacobs had on her development as a horn player and musician.
Eastman Trombone Professor, Larry Zalkind was in college at University of Southern California when he decided that he should try to address his respiratory issue, which had stemmed from his childhood asthma. While at USC, Gene Pokorny was an influence in Zalkind’s decision to seek out Arnold Jacobs’ help. He found Jacobs to be very kind. His initial musical offering to Jacobs was from Vivaldi, which Jacobs appreciated very much. Eventually in that first lesson, Jacobs measured Zalkind’s vital capacity and showed him how he could compensate for his asthmatic condition. Jacobs elaborated on the mechanics of breathing in a way no one else had done (sips, coughs, vertical expansion vs. horizontal expansion, fire place bellows analogy, compress the chest, discussion of abdominal muscles and the diaphragm). Garden hose kink analogy – when using more water the kink is able to straighten. Zalkind learned to take in much more air and to stay in the better part of his air instead of breathing in less amounts and finding himself in the bad part of his air often. Take in more air and use the “good air” rather than spending so much playing time in the “bad air” part of the lung capacity. Zalkind kept returning for lessons to work on an articulation issue, which was based on Valsalva. Rhythm of articulations, articulation preparation, use the air in a better way when you articulate to help the articulation. Jacobs helped Zalkind to use his air to make a great phrase. Zalkind discussed further what he was doing with Valsalva that caught Jacobs’ attention. Rhythm of articulation. Think the letter “O” and everything will fall into the right place. “D” consonant. For some reason, Jacobs didn’t want to give musical guidance to Zalkind on certain trombone-centric orchestral excerpts, but other music he was helpful and excited to do so. Discussion of the lack of Jacobs’ influence on the West Coast. Return to discussion of Valsalva and tongue compression. Less effort, more results. Kleinhammer early morning playing story. Lunch story with Jacobs and Pokorny. Joe Auman – Kleinhammer playing at church story.
Charleston (SC) Symphony principal trombonist, Bill Zehuss described his studies with Arnold Jacobs. Jacobs encouraged Zehfuss to use much more air, to take larger inhalations even though Bill had a very large vital capacity (7+ liters of air). Jacobs pointed out that having a large lung capacity, when not used fully, could be a curse rather than a blessing, due to the increasing tension states that come into play when the person goes below half of the remaining vital capacity. This is actually the case in all humans, but with a person who has a large capacity, comparisons, in terms of phrase length demands with other more “average” lung capacity colleagues, are often made. In so doing, the larger capacity player often reduces the size of the breath or “bow size” (breath capacity analogy) to match that of those around him/her thereby under utilizing his/her own breath capacity use. This leads to increasing tension states which then have a cascading effect throughout the respiration system, including a larger than needed use of the tongue, a diminishing amount of air flow at the lips, thinner tone, and reduced endurance. Other subjects covered in this interview: breathe at the lips; use less tongue and more air; think of upper register development as fast vibrations not necessarily as more pressure; mouthpiece buzzing; singing; let the low notes teach the high notes how to sound; strangeness is your friend while sameness is your enemy; imitation and imagination; attaching words to the notes being played to bring clarity in the thoughts to the lips buzzing; Bill’s studies with Mr. Crisafulli and Mr. Kleinhammer.
Colorado Springs Philharmonic Principal Trumpeter, David Zuercher had one lesson with Arnold Jacobs which he said changed his life. He had been experiencing some physical diminution in his playing experience. Embouchure issues. He sought out medical help but that proved to be not helpful. He was considering quitting the trumpet. He was referred to Mr. Jacobs by his Philharmonic tuba colleague. He had a two hour lesson with Jacobs and about an hour into the lesson he began to understand what Jacobs was telling him, which was to use more air flow and less air pressure. More quantity of air flow. And in order to create a new habit one has to create new stimulus. Jacobs had him playing simple studies. Zuercher’s “ah ha” moment was when he realized he had the freedom to do something new, something different. Strangeness is your friend, sameness is your enemy. Zuercher said that Jacobs believed it was not a good thing to write down his ideas that he gave to each individual student because they could be radically misinterpreted, and therefore be harmful. Zuercher started going for the sound and playing offensively rather than defensively. Just do it! “I play more like a singer.” Zuercher became a much more conceptually oriented player. Before his lesson with Jacobs he was a physically oriented player; playing by feel rather than sound. When he would listen to recordings he would be thinking musically, but with the trumpet in his hands he began playing/thinking mechanically.