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Lost Secrets of Master Musicians: A Window Into Genius

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Can Talent be Explained? In this groundbreaking look into the world of "classical" music, David Jacobson interweaves his educative experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music with his quest to understand how performers such as Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, and Glenn Gould achieved such unsurpassed levels of musical expression and Can Talent be Explained? In this groundbreaking look into the world of "classical" music, David Jacobson interweaves his educative experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music with his quest to understand how performers such as Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, and Glenn Gould achieved such unsurpassed levels of musical expression and technical skill. What were their "secret" techniques and musical insights? Jacobson, founder and director of the San Francisco Institute of Music, has spent many years analyzing the approach of these and other master players uncovering their "secrets" which he reveals in clear, precise, non-technical language, supplemented by diagrams, photographs and annotated musical examples. His conclusion: the methods, paradigmatic shifts and musical approach of these masters are fundamentally the same, yet diametrically opposed to what is taught by contemporary music teaching systems (such as those of Ivan Galamian and Shinichi Suzuki) for string playing, orchestral instruments, piano and voice. Jacobson's exploration of the "secret" techniques and musical insights of great performers aims to revitalize the art of classical music in general. The rediscovery of these techniques and concepts, he argues, will: Create many more outstanding performers and composers End the need for a conductor's presence in orchestral performance Decentralize musical bureaucracies and power structures Alter our understanding of both opera and ballet Change our ideas about the nature of genius, talent and our own potential


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Can Talent be Explained? In this groundbreaking look into the world of "classical" music, David Jacobson interweaves his educative experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music with his quest to understand how performers such as Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, and Glenn Gould achieved such unsurpassed levels of musical expression and Can Talent be Explained? In this groundbreaking look into the world of "classical" music, David Jacobson interweaves his educative experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music with his quest to understand how performers such as Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, and Glenn Gould achieved such unsurpassed levels of musical expression and technical skill. What were their "secret" techniques and musical insights? Jacobson, founder and director of the San Francisco Institute of Music, has spent many years analyzing the approach of these and other master players uncovering their "secrets" which he reveals in clear, precise, non-technical language, supplemented by diagrams, photographs and annotated musical examples. His conclusion: the methods, paradigmatic shifts and musical approach of these masters are fundamentally the same, yet diametrically opposed to what is taught by contemporary music teaching systems (such as those of Ivan Galamian and Shinichi Suzuki) for string playing, orchestral instruments, piano and voice. Jacobson's exploration of the "secret" techniques and musical insights of great performers aims to revitalize the art of classical music in general. The rediscovery of these techniques and concepts, he argues, will: Create many more outstanding performers and composers End the need for a conductor's presence in orchestral performance Decentralize musical bureaucracies and power structures Alter our understanding of both opera and ballet Change our ideas about the nature of genius, talent and our own potential

36 review for Lost Secrets of Master Musicians: A Window Into Genius

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angie Reisetter

    I got a copy of this to review from Net Galley, and I expected a rather academic analysis of how to play music based on the author's in-depth study of a few great players (4 violinists, 2 pianists). I got that and a whole lot more. And the whole lot more was a big waste of time. So let's start with what was definitely worth reading: the part of the book that was as advertised. There are 33 chapters and an appendix, and I'd say that the valuable part was about chapter 14-18 and the appendix. The r I got a copy of this to review from Net Galley, and I expected a rather academic analysis of how to play music based on the author's in-depth study of a few great players (4 violinists, 2 pianists). I got that and a whole lot more. And the whole lot more was a big waste of time. So let's start with what was definitely worth reading: the part of the book that was as advertised. There are 33 chapters and an appendix, and I'd say that the valuable part was about chapter 14-18 and the appendix. The rest of the book is the rantings of an embittered old man who hates everyone in his profession (and most of the rest of the human race). The most well-developed chapter was the one in which he took down his high school (Curtis) violin teacher with an almost-comical spite (Ch 26). He also has it in for the Suzuki method and Curtis itself, of course, which had the temerity to expel him for breaking the clearly stated rules, something he's clearly never gotten over. He hates conductors, making his case that they're superfluous, no, harmful to any ensemble, and instrument dealers. There's a throw-away chapter entitled "Religion" in which he details a short-lived, odd interaction with one church in the Boston area. He thinks that being a percussionist should not actually count as playing an instrument, and refers to himself as "our hero". Don't get him started on downtown Philadelphia, consisting of a black ghetto and a gay ghetto, or New York City, full of bums and perverts. America is a cultural desert, having only birthed infantile art forms like jazz, which are so simplistic that self-taught musicians can master them. The great players don't teach, and the "great" teachers (which, of course, are not great at all, but emperors with no clothes) can't play and therefore should never teach. There's aren't any good music jobs so we should let people major in music. No one should ever smile while playing music. So yeah, there are things worth reading here, but I wouldn't recommend reading the whole thing -- I felt like I needed to take many showers afterwards. The heartbreaking thing about the book is that Jacobson is fundamentally proposing a new way of teaching, a way of teaching that is at least a little revolutionary, and there's no mention of his teaching in the book. He makes an offhand reference to his students in the last chapter. What a missed opportunity. He wants to revolutionize teaching but does not discuss how he does it or what his students experience. He wants us to be less robotic and mechanized and emphasize flow and feeling in music. That's all good stuff. He makes some good points about the myth of self-taught, raw-talent greats who don't have to think about how to play. I regret that it's so deeply buried in all this other nonsense. But I'm not Jacobson's target audience. I assume he has targeted this at young violin players and their teachers, but the message isn't very clear. I got a free copy to review from Net Galley, and I'm sure this isn't what they were hoping for, but, well, the book wasn't what I was hoping for, either. Hopefully we'll all move on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    An enlightening, insightful, and entertaining journey into the true source of so-called musical "genius". Jacobson breaks down the myth that genius (or talent) is an inexplicable gift granted only to a special few, and shows how masterful musicianship is available to anyone given the right perspective and understanding of a few essential underlying principles -- principles that were once common knowledge among the great master musicians but that have been largely lost in today's teaching. The pr An enlightening, insightful, and entertaining journey into the true source of so-called musical "genius". Jacobson breaks down the myth that genius (or talent) is an inexplicable gift granted only to a special few, and shows how masterful musicianship is available to anyone given the right perspective and understanding of a few essential underlying principles -- principles that were once common knowledge among the great master musicians but that have been largely lost in today's teaching. The principles and insights he exposes -- rooted in an understanding of the intrinsic motion in music and an awareness of the mind-body connection in playing -- are a revelation in their simplicity and effectiveness. I sat reading the book with violin in hand, and was astounded to see how small changes in technique following the book's "bel canto" principles made an immediate positive difference in the musicality and ease of my playing. (Of course, like all great ideas, these are simple to understand but may take a lifetime to fully master...) It's also worth highlighting that this is not purely an instructional or theoretical tome: Jacobson interleaves his intricate deconstruction of the principles behind musical talent with his own compelling life story and a bitingly-accurate critique of the complacency of the last 50+ years of musical education. These threads intertwine to illustrate the root causes underlying classical music's fading popularity and to provide a blueprint for a paradigm shift in music education that promises to revitalize the field in the 21st century. This is a must-read book for anyone passionate about the future of classical music, for all classical music (and indeed arts) educators, and for all classical musicians seeking to plumb the full potential depths of their own talent.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David McClendon, Sr

    If one is truly into music, Lost Secrets of Master Musicians: A Window Into Genius by David Jacobson is probably a book for you. The first part of the book reads like an autobiography. We then switch gears to learning what master musicians used to be like and to an explanation of why we no longer have them. Lost Secrets of Master Musicians takes a look at some observations Jacobson has made over his many years in the business. This book isn’t for everyone. However, if you are a serious musician, yo If one is truly into music, Lost Secrets of Master Musicians: A Window Into Genius by David Jacobson is probably a book for you. The first part of the book reads like an autobiography. We then switch gears to learning what master musicians used to be like and to an explanation of why we no longer have them. Lost Secrets of Master Musicians takes a look at some observations Jacobson has made over his many years in the business. This book isn’t for everyone. However, if you are a serious musician, you will want to read it. We give Lost Secrets of Master Musicians all five stars. It is well-written and very well-researched. Jacobson has created illustrations that are simple to follow with only a basic understanding of music theory. If you are a string musician, you simply have to read this. Any person with a curiosity about classical music will want to read this as well. We were sent a complimentary copy of this book. We are under no obligation to write any review, positive or negative. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    As someone who also left a major conservatory (studying piano), I could relate to this exposé of the failure of the conservatory system. Here, the author presents his very embittered views, looking back to his formative experiences as a violin student. He later went on to found a school in San Francisco. In a parallel experience, my piano professor also demonstrated nothing, could not communicate her views, and to this day I could not point to a single idea that supposedly I learned, forking ove As someone who also left a major conservatory (studying piano), I could relate to this exposé of the failure of the conservatory system. Here, the author presents his very embittered views, looking back to his formative experiences as a violin student. He later went on to found a school in San Francisco. In a parallel experience, my piano professor also demonstrated nothing, could not communicate her views, and to this day I could not point to a single idea that supposedly I learned, forking over thousands of dollars in the process. I had an honors scholarship. His book, however, is gratuitously over-stuffed with his wide-ranging views on just about everything, from education to religion, with only a couple chapters devoted precisely to how and why the playing style he so admires is superior. For this reason, the book is not recommended but to those who are truly interested in thie author’s views, or to violinists in particular. Speaking as a piano player, it was only of quickly-fading interest. Dubious title: not many lost secrets here...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kọlá

    Hmm. I dunno, but reading this book for me is best summarised by bastardising a well used saw “Life’s too short to learn stuff from arsey, hard done by people with an axe to grind” This book would have been a bit better if the author didn’t have to replay how badly he was treated by his musical education. There was something interesting in his idea about bel canto and also - if the music education system is as bad as he thinks it is, then yes call it out and get it fixed. However I don’t think yo Hmm. I dunno, but reading this book for me is best summarised by bastardising a well used saw “Life’s too short to learn stuff from arsey, hard done by people with an axe to grind” This book would have been a bit better if the author didn’t have to replay how badly he was treated by his musical education. There was something interesting in his idea about bel canto and also - if the music education system is as bad as he thinks it is, then yes call it out and get it fixed. However I don’t think you get your way by sounding like a spoilt child. Possibly a good message obscured by the unpleasant attitudes of the messenger.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I recevied a complimentary copy. The book is thick and if you are new to the topic at hand it can give you a bit of a headache because of all of the information. It was hard to read in a few sittings and should be read more over time with a lot of breaks in between so that your eyes and head do not feel like they will fall off. With that said it is packed with great knowledge, tips and examples to help anyone to better get acquainted and build skill. Most importantly it shows the reader that they I recevied a complimentary copy. The book is thick and if you are new to the topic at hand it can give you a bit of a headache because of all of the information. It was hard to read in a few sittings and should be read more over time with a lot of breaks in between so that your eyes and head do not feel like they will fall off. With that said it is packed with great knowledge, tips and examples to help anyone to better get acquainted and build skill. Most importantly it shows the reader that they do not need to be genius to play or create great music

  7. 4 out of 5

    GONZA

    This is a very technical book and if the first part is mostly an autobiography, what follows is a clear explanation of the various methods and technics to play mostly the violin, sometimes singing and piano also, but not all the other instruments are discussed, so as a clarinetist (hobbyst) I felt let down. Questo é un libro molto tecnico, che comincia con l'autobiografia dell'autore e prosegue con una serie di disquisizioni su varie tecniche per suonare sopratutto il violino, alcune volte si par This is a very technical book and if the first part is mostly an autobiography, what follows is a clear explanation of the various methods and technics to play mostly the violin, sometimes singing and piano also, but not all the other instruments are discussed, so as a clarinetist (hobbyst) I felt let down. Questo é un libro molto tecnico, che comincia con l'autobiografia dell'autore e prosegue con una serie di disquisizioni su varie tecniche per suonare sopratutto il violino, alcune volte si parla del canto e del pianoforte anche, ma come clarinettista sono rimasta piuttosto delusa.... THANKS TO NETGALLEY FOR THE PREVIEW!

  8. 4 out of 5

    SANDRA J ALLEN

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vic Dillahay

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julia J

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  12. 5 out of 5

    Troy Sargent

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyoko

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Samulak

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steven Fichera

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Poor

  17. 5 out of 5

    Corwin Slack

  18. 5 out of 5

    Raimundas

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Sajdak

  20. 5 out of 5

    Margarita Gross

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie Murkette

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo Jarrett

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Dillon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Haley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Sajdak

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meera Sundar

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aloisia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Kool-Gajda

  32. 5 out of 5

    Radhika

  33. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  34. 4 out of 5

    Mia Bella

  35. 4 out of 5

    Matias Rivas

  36. 4 out of 5

    David R

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