Singing Through the Trumpet: Arnold Jacobs’ ‘Song and Wind’ and the Trumpet

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Julia Randel, Hope College

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As with any instrument, performing successfully on a brass instrument is a challenging task that many musicians, including professionals, have encountered for decades. In an attempt to find a solution to these challenges, Arnold Jacobs, principal tubist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1944-1988, spent many years poring over neurology and physiology books, analyzing the playing of fellow members of the Chicago Symphony brass section such as Adolph “Bud” Herseth, and testing his ideas on both himself and his students. The result of all his work was the creation of ‘song and wind,’ an approach that combines the creativity of the mind and the technical skills of the body while preventing the paralyzing mental analysis that many musicians encounter. This paper looks to answer why ‘song and wind’ is so useful for brass players as well as how this idea is effective in trumpet pedagogy. Several books written by former students of Jacobs, multiple personal accounts of professional brass players using ‘song and wind,’ and interviews and journal articles from the International Trumpet Guild Journal relay Arnold Jacobs’, Bud Herseth’s, and Vincent Cichowicz’s own thoughts on ‘song and wind.’ From these investigations, one can conclude that ‘song and wind’ is a very practical approach to easing the challenges of playing a brass instrument by mentally singing and playing an instrument simultaneously. In addition, through looking at the relationships in the ideas of colleagues Jacobs, Herseth, and Cichowicz, one sees that ‘song and wind,’ although created by a tuba player, can easily be applied to trumpet pedagogy and continues to be passed on to future generations of brass students today.

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