David Zuercher/Arnold Jacobs Lesson

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bill Dishman, May 29, 2006.

  1. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman Piano User

    Nov 22, 2003
    Gainesville, Florida
    David gave me permission to post this transcript of a lesson I had with him which I thought may prove helpful to others.

    Lesson with David Zuercher
    (Colorado Springs Symphony / Colorado Symphony)

    I called David Zuercher during the spring in response to his ad in the ITG Journal about helping players who were having difficulties with their playing. We had a conversation about his Arnold Jacobs philosophies and as my wife and I were going to be in Denver for the month of July, it seemed like the perfect situation due to my physical and medical problems (lymphoma/chemotherapy/radiaton) during the previous 18 months.

    I did get to meet David Zuercher prior to the lesson as my wife and I were able to attend a “Parks†concert by the Colorado Symphony in which he was playing. Was able to introduce myself during the intermission break backstage.

    In the couple of weeks before I was to meet with David, I had been practicing each morning in my car in the hotel parking lot for a couple of hours with a practice mute. I wanted to be in as good of shape as possible leading up to the lesson.

    As the day of the lesson approached, I became more and more excited with the anticipation of working with David and hopefully working out some of the problems in my playing that had been haunting me and causing much anxiety.

    The day of the lesson, I was so excited about meeting with him that I couldn’t sleep and instead of waiting until about 6:00 A.M. to go out to the car and practice, I was out there at 4:00 A.M. wanting to be good and warmed up. (Lesson was at 10:00 A.M. in Colorado Springs)
    I did my “light†routine so as not to be fatigued when I got there.

    As I entered David’s studio I immediately noticed the Arnold Jacobs posters on the room dividers! Already an affinity for his teaching style and background! We discussed his having studied with Leon Rapier at Louisville. (Another of my heroes, and the Addison Concerto recording that I had worn out. He proceeded to make another for me during the lesson!)

    I related to David my medical situation for the past year and a half and the lack of consistency and confidence in my playing that had become the norm due to my physical / mental condition.

    Specifically noted were inconsistent beginnings of notes and endurance problems, lack of embouchure control to finish phrases and the deterioration of tone quality as phrases went on.

    Using “Song & Wind†(falsetto voice / Brunnhilde) concepts, many problems began to be fixed quickly. Occasional lapses occurred during the lesson but once corrections were made, immediate improvement was the result.

    Evaluation was made that I was WORKING TOO HARD!
    - Needed a more relaxed approach
    - Needed to let the “Wind†work for me
    - Blowing a Kleenex with continuous, even and easy air flow
    - Blowing a candle evenly without blowing it out
    - Inhalation with open vowel sounds (AHH / HOH etc.)
    - Lip slurs with good air flow
    - Same “lip slurs†but tongued without disrupting the air flow

    We discussed my inability to “conceptualize†or “visualize†my tongue position inside the
    oral cavity when it is not actually touching my teeth, gums or roof of my mouth.

    Discussion of “Blow†and “Wind†(a la Jacobs)
    - Head tones (resonance) like a singer
    - Relaxation and lack of constriction of chest, throat and tongue
    - “Forward†air direction with open chest expansion (Breathe to Expand!
    Not the other way around
    - “Replace BAD HABITS with GOOD ONES!â€

    Mind Over Body
    - Mind controls multitude of physical actions to achieve a certain result
    - Too many millions of instructions for us to ever control by conscious effort
    - Signals from the brain allow the required actions to achieve desired outcomes
    if they are conceptualized beforehand

    David took a piece of paper and wrote the word “RUNâ€.
    What did I think of when I see the word?
    (I told him it meant that my feet hurt due to the neuropothy from the chemotherapy.)

    His point was that I should think of the action of running, not a three letter word unto itself.

    - “Mind (complicated process) vs. Actionâ€
    - “RUN†is an action requiring millions of coordinated physical instructions
    from the brain (muscle control, balance, coordination etc.)
    - “RUN†is not a three letter word. It is an action
    - We don’t need to control all of these. The body responds automatically to
    the instructions yielding the results we desire.
    - We don’t need to analyze the process.
    - Let it happen naturally and focus on the results we desire
    - Mind controls the sound one wants to get. The body will do whatever it takes to make this happen.
    - Don’t dwell on how things “feel†as one plays.
    - Concentrate on the aural sounds (musical sounds) one wants to create
    Feel vs. Sound
    (NO!) (YES!)
    (Technical) (Song)
    (Mechanical) (Wind)
    The Lesson


    Cichowicz “Flow Studiesâ€
    - Long breath inhalation
    - Easy attack (relaxed tongue)
    - Good air “flow†as opposed to “pressureâ€

    Clarke Technical Study #2
    - Same relaxed approach

    - Strength
    - Endurance
    - “Over†articulations on attacks
    - Range

    Imitation (Sound concepts)
    - F-G-A-Bb (slurred)
    - Pinched tone
    - “Scruntchedâ€
    - Played pitches with the mouthpiece
    - Played B-natural with the mouthpiece
    - Attempted to play B-natural with horn (open fingering)
    - very flat pitch and thin sounding
    - Inconsistent and lacked confidence

    Mind tells body what to do directly (Arnold Jacobs)
    - Not the actual steps involved but rather the end result. (Goal)

    - Open, powerful falsetto voice (like and opera singer)
    - Clear and relaxed - yet powerful
    - Brunnhilde (Yo-Ho Ho-Oh - Wagner - horned helmet and all! Really!)
    - Open throat
    - Plenty of breath support (but not tension)
    - “Singing†through the horn!
    - Vocalists “head tones†with open vibration in the forehead. (resonance)
    - Open and relaxed
    - Avoid constructiveness of throat
    - Keep air flow free and full but without forcing it
    - Phrasing and dynamics as a vocalists would

    - Four counts in - One count out
    - Slow, even inhalation (4 counts, 3 counts, 2 counts, 1 count)
    - Seven “eighth notes†in progressing to one “eighth note†in.
    with the same quality as longer inhalation breaths
    - Inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and seamless.
    - One continuous action
    - Free of tension
    - No “stopping†at the top of the breath and breaking the flow

    - BREATHE to EXPAND! (not visa versa!)

    Mind’s Ear
    - This (the mind) controls the sound
    - Have concept in ones head (mind’s ear) before one plays
    - Make the result match the initial goal
    - The body (muscles, embouchure etc.) will do what is necessary
    - Do not think “technical†(Adams)
    - Just “Blow†(not push)

    Moussorgsky “Promenadeâ€
    - Played excerpt as usual (with usual problems)
    - Sing in “falsetto†with style desired
    - Mind’s Ear (conceptualize the desired sound)
    - Open throat
    - Confident approach
    - Play with same approach as “falsetto†singing style
    - Much more open
    - More intense
    - More confident

    - The sound is from the player not just the instrument
    - David played the Promenade on an old King student model horn and sounded absolutely wonderful
    - Mind over matter! (Think music not technical)

    Mahler Symphony #5 (opening)
    - Played in usual way
    - Problem with the high “Aâ€

    - Sing in “falsetto†a la Wagner/Brunnhilde (wind power)
    - Same positive results
    - No problem with the high “Aâ€
    - Kept consistent tone throughout registers
    - Very little tension or restriction of the throat
    - Octave slurs (Clarke Study #11)
    - Good “wind†equals good results!
    - Clean slurs with full tone between the 8va’s (glissando)
    - A couple of false or inconsistent tries but improved with correct
    “wind controlâ€
    - Breathe to expand! NOT Expand to breathe.

    Range (High A)
    - Pinched, strained tone and difficulty (Cichowicz/Johnson exercises)
    - When using “falsetto singing†approach - no problem
    - Vibrant and full sound with little stress and strain
    - Focusing on the “Blow†not the “Chopsâ€

    Mouthpiece Buzzing
    - Work for a “full sounding†buzz
    - Be sure to “Glissando†between pitches (no gaps)
    - “Drive†the tone to the bottom of exercises
    - Avoid “dropping down†to lower pitches.
    - Air speed
    - Relaxed embouchure
    - Avoid tension
    - Tension restricts the vibrations
    - Discussed recent problems playing through entire Donizetti’s “Don Pasqualeâ€
    solo even when not fatigued
    - Applied good mental concept with good “wind†and good breaths
    when needed during the solo and easily made it through the entire solo

    - Played Puccini “Quando men vo...†aria (Eb part / played as a “C†part)
    - Same results as the Donizetti when good mental and physical approach
    - Wind, openness, relaxed feel

    - Verdi’s “Adagioâ€
    - Went very well!
    - Applying Arnold Jacobs principles to making music
    - “Song & Wind†yielded good results!
    - Keeping good wind through to the end of phrases helps
    to keep embouchure from collapsing due to muscle strain
    - “Mind’s Ear†(Hear it before you play it!)
    - Let the body respond naturally to the signals sent
    relating desired goals and concepts
    - Not technical! Musical!

    - Noted whenever old habits crept in...the poor results also occurred
    - Inconsistent tone, poor attacks, etc.
    - Replaced with “Song & Wind†concepts and problems immediately fixed!
    - Good wind and relaxation (no tension or mental pressure)
    - Finished with great expectations of continuing to build confidence!

    At the conclusion of the lesson (2 hours) I felt like I really had a chance to not only gain back some of the skills and abilities I had lost in the previous 18 months, but also had the potential to go even further as a musician if I could integrate the ideas and concepts David had exposed me to this morning. For the rest of our stay in Colorado, I didn’t miss a single day of trying to build the good habits David had talked to me about. To me this was a real “benchmark†in dealing with my own frutration and striving to reach higher and higher goals. I will forever be in debt to David Zuercher for this wonderful morning. It was truly the “highlight†of my trip to Colorado.

    If anyone wishes to contact David on their own, here is his website:


    I highly recommend it.

    Bill Dishman
    Gainesville, Florida
  2. RG111

    RG111 Piano User

    Nov 12, 2003

    Wow!!! Thanks for taking the time for such an informative post!!!! I am rereading for the third time Luis Lubriel's book on Mr. Jacobs, so your post was timely for me.
    Also, I hope your health issues are being resolved.
    God bless,
    Roy Griffin
  3. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman Piano User

    Nov 22, 2003
    Gainesville, Florida

    Roy...I just received Luis's book and have only just begun reading it. (I also try to go over the multitude of other Jacobs articles, masterclasses etc. that I have at least once a year.)

    Things are going well. Getting the porta-cath out in a couple of weeks if the next 2 scans come out negative.

    Bill Dishman
    Gainesville, Florida

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