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Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby smileatom » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:04 pm

Now, STOP. I know this looks like a troll/poll, and Im sure Arnold Jacobs through his lifelong dedication and innovation, and humanity rises near the top of all that.

But Im not talking about that so much. There are great tuba teachers out there who never made a business out of it (or an over arching pedagogy out of it), who have students in top jobs even today.

As another post on the forum about "two teachers", implies, there can theoretically be foundational, and performance teachers. There are also teachers who regardless of their stature, who really make you want to play the tuba in the first place and mere motivation can unlock discipline and talent.

I dont know about all that. Im just curious, its ok that Arnold Jacobs reigns supreme, but thats maybe obvious. Im curious about the non-obvious choices, and their contributions as you may see it.

Personally I would have loved to study with Tommy Johnson, Harvey Phillips, Bill Bell, or Chester Schmitz, but I never got the chance.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Snake Charmer » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:01 am

For the experience of studying with Arnold Jacobs I started too late playing seriously. Sam Pilafian had a big impact on my playing and was a wonderful person and teacher.
For most of my playing I have to thank Marty Erickson, he also influenced my teaching. And of course there is Roger Bobo, he is really marvellous.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby goodgigs » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:03 am

Tom the answer's obvious: It's you !
Any one who would move to Chicago to study the tuba, would have taught himself.
Motivation is everything. I only learned to keep from embarrassing myself. (it didn't work too well)

As to Jake, I heard him give two hour lectures three days in a row in 1990. He was 72.
I wasn't supper impressed because I had read Philip Farkus and had was familiar with many of the concepts.
I guess I really objected to The idea that he was "the end all be all" of brass. I'm not much of a hero worshiper.
He was a great teacher. He was a great man. He did invaluable research. I liked Him.
I sought him out and spoke to him several times before and after lectures. He was very approachable.
I guess I really object to the one quote that gets bantered about: "We play by sound, not by feel."
My opinion is that mostly we use muscle memory driven by the song in our head. Not one or the other.


As to who's the best teacher now... I guess it's the guy who cares the most.
You gotta want your students to play better then you do to be good at all.
I got lucky. I had lots of teachers ! (Although I never "studied") :wink:
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby MartyNeilan » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:05 am

To quote a frequent reply from the old TubeNet,
Ask your teacher.

For me personally???
Out of the many teachers I have had, I would rank my top three and in this order:
1. Pat Landolfi
2. Don Harry
3. Emil Waldman (the school music teacher and trombone player who got this fifth grader off to the right start on a 3/4 BBb tuba, and accelerated me at a rapid pace)
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Leto Cruise » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:47 am

David Zerkel hands down
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby smileatom » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:08 am

goodgigs wrote:I guess I really object to the one quote that gets bantered about: "We play by sound, not by feel."


This was an interesting statement. Because Jake also in a way contradicted himself by introducing "proprioception". (I proly mispelled that)
Which I believe (its been a long time) is the inherent brain skill of knowing where your fingertip is at any time without looking at it.
In other words you can touch your nose with your eyes closed.

Although not by feel per se, when I am in shape I can approach the horn with my chops off the mouthpiece but just about to engage and know where the note is.
Blow some air into the thing and its there. The sound thing can also create a psuedo-physical response but thats not what this post was about.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby smileatom » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:08 am

MartyNeilan wrote:To quote a frequent reply from the old TubeNet,
Ask your teacher.

For me personally???
Out of the many teachers I have had, I would rank my top three and in this order:
1. Pat Landolfi
2. Don Harry
3. Emil Waldman (the school music teacher and trombone player who got this fifth grader off to the right start on a 3/4 BBb tuba, and accelerated me at a rapid pace)


I would have liked to study with those guys for sure.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Matt G » Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:48 am

Words like “best” and “ever” reduce the size of the set to zero.

What is necessary in the student-teacher relationship is that the student is continuously motivated to excel. With all of us being unique individuals, not every teacher will come across the same way. Likewise, some teachers will struggle with getting to a common ground of communication with the student.

You could, within a reasonable amount of time, list all of the full-time orchestral tuba players, attach the list of teachers that they reference, and come up with a maximum set of intersection. However, a lot of pros don’t list everyone they’ve had as a instrumental professor and sometimes they list a person they had a few lessons with and that name might help boost the resume profile a bit. In other words, even that “data” would carry bias.

I’d agree with goodgigs that ultimately the best teacher is one’s self. That’s the person that schedules practice time, makes sure other life conditions are in good order, and puts in the work. We can share these experiences to help motivate others and help accelerate them on their path. But again, getting that information across might work and might not.

For my last degree, there are a few professors of note that I was impacted greatly by. One of them because he was relentless at being a biased pedant and I worked my butt off to prove him wrong. If I were asked to list “influential professors”, I likely wouldn’t list him, but he did make me far better at my subject matter. So I don’t know how accurate of a reference that would be?

I’d also agree with Marty that middle school and high school band directors are probably as influential as any others with regards to success. For reference, if you look at the amount of students that went through Nedo Pandolfi’s band program in a rural community in Rhode Island that are in professional orchestras, you might be inclined to think there is something magical in the water there. Nope, it’s that this gentleman was able to give them a workable perspective on success in music in their formative years.

I see this thread as something like the “Erdos number” in mathematics. It says a little about the educational background of the professor and their network, but not as much about their own abilities. So it’s somewhat of a goof in that community, not to be taken as a prediction metric.

Rambling nearly complete, I do think these threads can be interesting, but usually not all that insightful to any given particular individual.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:40 am

There are teachers pros go to after they are pros, and teachers that were the reason they became successful pros in the first place. If I look at college professors, the two that seem to me to stand out in their ability to get their students into professional situations (often in the military) are Harvey Philips and Brian Bowman. Maybe Dave Zerkel is the one showing that success nowadays. Guys who wanted a military tuba-playing career just naturally gravitated to Indiana back in the day, near as I can tell. Or Dallas. Or Arizona--Dan Parantoni?

Jacobs seems to me the teacher pros went to, because he was able to zero in on issues those pros were experiencing at their high level and help them. I'm sure those who just took a few lessons from him to pad their resumes did not get all he had to offer, but that's another discussion. Bell was probably in the same category, and maybe even more revered than Jacobs by players of Jacobs's generation. I suspect Bobo also falls into that category, but I have much less data in my head to suggest that.

And there are those pros who also taught, who, because of their location, were likely to have a bigger influence, simply because of the pool of students available to them. Standouts among those--names I keep seeing over and over again--are Don Harry and Marty Erickson. But they stand on the shoulders of teachers like Cherry Beauregard--probably one of the true greats that fewer know about.

I'm an amateur and never studied with any of those, but I did greatly benefit from lessons with top pros who did study with the greats and passed along the pedagogy they had learned. For most of them, the lines either traced back to Jacobs or Bell, but there were some others in there, too, like Beauregard and Little, and Dave Kirk, whose teaching I received by reflection. Top pros in that category might be heroes to the next generation. New names will emerge. Chris Olka is just one example who has penetrated my gray-haired consciousness.

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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby tclements » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:03 am

I would say the best tuba teacher is the one that helps you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Make sense?
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Snake Charmer » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:34 am

tclements wrote:I would say the best tuba teacher is the one that helps you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Make sense?

...or the one that shows you ways to achieve a goal you always assumed to be out of reach!
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby peterbas » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:57 am

smileatom wrote:
MartyNeilan wrote:To quote a frequent reply from the old TubeNet,
Ask your teacher.

For me personally???
Out of the many teachers I have had, I would rank my top three and in this order:
1. Pat Landolfi
2. Don Harry
3. Emil Waldman (the school music teacher and trombone player who got this fifth grader off to the right start on a 3/4 BBb tuba, and accelerated me at a rapid pace)


I would have liked to study with those guys for sure.


Why would you need another teacher? You studied with the best so all of that would be a waiste of time.


smileatom wrote:Ill even go out on a bigger limb here. Given I have experience with pros and peers who have had serious "attack problems", after studying with Jake.

If you know what you want to sound like, you can do anything. I mean I havent even played much in 20 years and I can circular breathe and play loud as hell with good tone,
or as soft as I want. Honestly I think tuba pedagogy needs a rethink.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Doc » Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:35 am

Are we going to compile a list for this, kinda like which horns won auditions?
What about a list teachers who were most successful with having students win auditions?

I'm partially serious and partially poking fun at all the lists around here. BUT this list could prove valuable if someone wanted to investigate the pedagogy of some previous great (but possibly not well known/previously unknown) teacher. Arnold Jacobs is pretty easy to research, and I've studied Song and Wind concepts for a long time. I'd love to know more about Bill Bell (despite my teaching lineage with him), Tommy Johnson, Abe Torchinsky, and Cherry Beauregard. Maybe somewhere there is more information...?
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:52 pm

Doc wrote:... I'd love to know more about ... Cherry Beauregard. Maybe somewhere there is more information...?


Talk with Mike Sanders--he studied with Cherry Beauregard at Eastman. Probably any of those Eastman students can tell you all about him--he didn't retire until 1996. Chuck Daellenbach would be in that group, too, among many others. And Don Harry probably knows him well. As far as I know, he's still with us--he's five years younger than my father, who is definitely still with us. Don can probably also tell you about Bill Bell, as can Floyd Cooley and I'm sure many others still around who studied with him.

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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby roweenie » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:42 pm

:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow:

tclements wrote:I would say the best tuba teacher is the one that helps you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Make sense?


Doc wrote:Are we going to compile a list for this, kinda like which horns won auditions?
What about a list teachers who were most successful with having students win audition?


Why stop there? How about a list of the coffee that was consumed the morning of winning an audition, or the most comfortable socks and underwear that was worn during an audition, too? :wink:

Learning about what teachers have/had to offer is definitely valuable, as Doc said, but asking who is/was the "best" is a little too subjective to be really useful - for every great teacher that is mentioned, there will be someone, somewhere, who will differ with your opinion, and have, in their mind, a valid reason for having it.

Find what works for YOU, and stop obsessing over what worked for OTHERS.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:05 pm

The best teacher is always oneself, but it requires completely paying attention - as well as blunt honesty and humility.

The OTHER best teachers are audited performances offered forth by the best vocalists and - of all instrumentalists - bowed stringed instrument performance artists, which provide us with the highest level models of musicianship and phrasing.

It's not about the _____.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby Art Hovey » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:48 pm

As usual, Bloke's reply is spot-on. But although this thread is based on a silly question, I am amazed that no one has mentioned Bill Bell. I recall a conversation that my father had with Abe Torchinsky when the subject of Arnold Jacobs came up. Torch replied that yes, he did study with Jake for a year, but he stayed with Bell for five years.
Of course my wife is quick to remind me that my memory is less than reliable.
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby happyroman » Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:35 pm

Rick Denney wrote:
Doc wrote:... I'd love to know more about ... Cherry Beauregard. Maybe somewhere there is more information...?


Talk with Mike Sanders--he studied with Cherry Beauregard at Eastman. Probably any of those Eastman students can tell you all about him--he didn't retire until 1996. Chuck Daellenbach would be in that group, too, among many others. And Don Harry probably knows him well. As far as I know, he's still with us--he's five years younger than my father, who is definitely still with us. Don can probably also tell you about Bill Bell, as can Floyd Cooley and I'm sure many others still around who studied with him.

Rick "speaking of Floyd Cooley..." Denney


Of the four you mention, three would likely say that Jake was their most influential teacher.

MIke Sanders interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G52T7bCLQpk

Chuck Daellenbach (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiRUnGhFR0E

Chuck Daellenbach (Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZSxBNX_yIM

Floyd Cooley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC1dfAvp-qw

And just for grins, here are a few more testimonials

Fritz Kaenzig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-9quZqRp40

David Zerkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze1zxtEDR3I

Dan Perantoni: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irrJSPwaKRo

Sam Pilafian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVT0vZrUZh8

Pat Sheridan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFt5hRz1zL4
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby bloke » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:26 pm

Quote someone (triggering a notification email) looking for info about one person, and misdirect them to info about another person. :lol:
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Re: Who was the best tuba teacher that ever lived?

Postby bwtuba » Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:56 pm

Since the original poster wanted "non-obvious" choices, I would recommend Don Knaub. Probably not a household name to many people these days. Especially since he was known more as a trombone teacher. But here is a partial list of his tuba students:

Ron Bishop
Roger Bobo
Cherry Beauregard
Chuck Daellenbach
Toby Hanks
Dan Perantoni
Phil Sinder
Mike Sanders
Dennis Miller

And that's just a few. His trombone list is even more impressive.
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