Category: Brass|Comment: 1|Readings: 14903|Published: 11/15/2015|


Without a doubt, Arnold Jacobs was one of the best brass professors of the second half of the 20th century. In this post we will give an overwiew of his most famous quotes.

1st - Strength is your enemy; weakness is your friend.

Excessive strength is one of the biggest problems for musicians who play wind instruments, as it has a very negative impact on sound. Tension kills the sound.

This is due to the fact that the majority of our body´s muscles are configured to be opposing, and this can causes some muscles to tighten unnecessarily during performance, resulting in a forced, strained or even trembling or shaky sound.

We should therefore look for a what A. Jacobs calls "Minimal Motors"; that is to say, try to achive the desire results while using the minimum number of muscles needed to perform the job or task. To do that, our body needs to be loose and relaxed when playing.

Jacobs  suggests focusing on a sound created with minimal effort, since relaxation will help us use our full potential as instrumentalists.

Ideally, we should reduce our efforts without sacrificing the quality of the final product. To sum it up, we can say that you have to find the easiest way to play.

2nd - "Create good habits away from your instrument; use strangeness"

If we want to learn new habits, we have to practice with accurate motivacition and incentives; so we shouldn´t fight against bad habits, because even if we are trying to correct them, we are just reinforcing them. That is why we should focus on good habits for the bad habits to desappear.

3rd - "Conceive, don´t perceive"

Controling our thoughts is one of the most important parts of musical performance. When we are playing, it is very common to ask ourselves questions like "does this sound good?" "am I breathing right?", "am I using my fingers correctly", "do I feel okay?", etc.

Arnold Jacobs thinks we shouldn´t ask ourselves these kind of questions during the performance because we´re sending information from our muscles to our brain when we should be doing exactly the opposite; creating music in our mind and making our muscles to produce it.

"be a great artist in your imagination"

As Jacobs says, "be a great artist in your imagination", since analysis does not help performance. If we want to progress and improve we should present what we want listeners to perceive.

Jacobs points out that musicians should show their feeling and tell stories with their sound. If we want a specific colour in our sound, we have to create it in our mind and then our body will produce it by making the necessary adjustments. The idea is to tell a story though musical orders.

4ºth - "Think product, not methodology"

In this quote, Jacobs emphasizes the importance of mental work rather than physical work. Many time we focus on complex aspects, when the best answers are usually the simplest.

He insists on the idea that the musicians has to focus on product-making, by using mental pictures that recall what we want to achieve.

Artist have to reach for the final product: the pitch, phrasing and all the emotions that music can transmit. That means we should be musicians, not instrumentalists, since we have to send a message to our audience, not to ourselves.

Jacobs stands for simplycity because it gives us the physical control required in performance, and this is achieved by correcting the sound (product) and not our body.

End of part I.

These quotes have been extracted from the Bruce Nelson´s book: Also sprach Arnold Jacobs, which I recommend to read.

You can buy the "Also Sprach Arnold Jacobs" clicking HERE.

Also I would like recomend you other book: Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind. where you will find an overview of the A. Jacobs life.

You can buy the "Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind" clicking HERE.