Saturday, July 07, 2012

Jake was Right… Again

In my computer there are numerous files of Arnold Jacobs masterclasses, recordings and quotations. He was extraordinary; his calm resonate voice, his professional demeanor and his vast knowledge gave him the qualities that made him the impressive master teacher that he was. At least once a month I find myself browsing through my formative collection of Jacobs files and with each visit I feel recharged and redirected in my own teaching. He has inspired the next generation (and the next) to become better teachers and better players.

I have watched all these files many times, through them all, there is one major thought he emphasizes in all his teachings: “Let the music be your motivation”.

He has told this story many times and it has made a huge impression on me: From the time he was a student at The Curtis Institute of Music, which he entered in 1930 (he was 15) he used the music he heard in his own musical environment as his personal study material; when he heard something he thought was beautiful, whether it was played on string instruments, woodwind instruments or voice, he would learn it on the tuba and try to imitate the qualities that made it beautiful. It worked.

In Arnold Jacobs’ formative period there was very little study material for tuba compared to today. We’re blessed today with wonderful instruments, great teachers and abundant methods and study repertoire. Even so, the benefits of playing familiar material, listening to why it’s beautiful and imitating, are huge. Whether whole melodies or just melodic fragments, whether the music of Bach, Brahms or Michael Jackson, whatever key, whatever way, can play a very important part in the development of our personal musicality.
Enjoy playing music the way you want it to sound, let the tuba be your voice.

Roger Bobo, July 8, 2012, Tokyo