which explain the principles presented within this webpage in great detail. Additionally, the importance of having an experienced Taubman teacher to oversee the application of the material presented in these articles cannot be
“The playing apparatus is governed by very definite laws of motion. When one begins to understand how the body works, how the instrument works and how they interact, a whole new world opens up.” (article Why Piano Students on every level - from amateur to performing artist - need the Taubman Approach)
A healthy approach to piano technic should focus on how the fingers and hands work --- QUESTIONING each movement. Whenever the hand hurts or feels tense, something is wrong.
These are the underlying principles of Dorothy Taubman'steachings, upon which much of the material in this website is based.
Everyone, whether a pianist or a nintendo player, should respect his body and try to avoid all harmful motions. For example, when you hold a telephone, avoid curling or gripping with the fingers and keep your hand flat against the back of the phone.
When holding any utensil -- a rag, scrub brush, hairbrush, pen, or even a toothbush -- always try to avoid CLENCHING which is a very destructive motion. Instead, try to keep "longer fingers" and a more "open hand" -- avoiding tightly gripping the utensil or curling (tightly flexing) the fingers.
Be very careful to avoid "twisting the hand" to the right or the left away from the forearm at the wrist (ulnar/radial deviation) to an extreme range which is another very destructive motion.
When using a computer keyboard, be careful to use the whole arm to bring the fingers into a position to depress a key that is outside the natural range rather than to twist or misalign the arm and hand, or to isolate and reach with the fingers.
My Personal Experiences With The Taubman Approach
By Amy L. Aberg McLelland, NCTM
Each summer at Princeton University I have the opportunity to meet and work with marvelous pianists from around the world. All are pursuing a common goal -- to improve their skills as a pianist. Some are looking for ways to improve their speed and clarity in fast passagework. Others might need more freedom and control in chords and octave work. And some are looking to find ways to recover from playing-related injuries. All seem to be looking for greater tonal control to afford the maximum vehicle for creative expression. The most exciting part of this symposium, for me, is to see these pianists finding answers and solutions to pianistic problems with which they've struggled most of their lives.
It's amazing to see the look on people's faces when they realize that piano-playing can actually feel quite effortless in the body -- that there's no need for pain, discomfort, fatigue, or technical limitation. What keeps me involved in this work is the desire to continue seeing faces light-up after the realization that there is indeed a way to continue to improve -- those challenging pieces are actually a possibility after all!
Actually, the reason this approach to piano playing seems so "effortless" in the body is that it is healthy. It's based upon certain fundamental principles of coordinate motion. This approach, (the Taubman Approach), is in fact so healthy that it actually allowed me to recover from a debilitating injury. The healthy movements transformed me from a near cripple, (being unable to successfully hold a fork or hairbrush, or even dress myself), to being able to play piano again and more freely than I ever thought possible.
I'm not alone, either. There are hundreds of pianists and other instrumentalists from all over the world who have been helped by this work. To quote recording artist, Nina Tichman, it is a "straightforward yet subtle approach to piano technique that provides all of the instrumental tools the pianist needs to express his or her artistic vision."
As it turns out, my injury was really the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it gave me the opportunity to learn a technic that allows for fuller fortes -- greater tonal control -- richer tone -- amazingly fast and even passagework -- ability to reach larger chords and octaves with ease -- ability to be able to sit down and play for hours without ever feeling tired -- to never, ever experience tension in my fingers, hands, and arms. In short, I've discovered, (thanks to my lessons with Edna Golandsky, John Bloomfield and other expert teachers of this appraoch), the ingredients of virtuosity.
As Dorothy Taubman states,
"The body is capable of fulfilling all pianistic demands without
a violation of its nature if the most efficient ways are used; pain,
insecurity, and lack of technical control are symptoms of
incoordination rather than a lack of practice, intelligence, or talent."
I can personally testify to this last statement, because when I first started my "Taubman" lessons, I would wake-up in pain -- (severe pain and numbness) -- yet feel FINE after my lessons and morning practice sessions at the piano. The practice sessions provided the first relief I had ever had from the pain of over 2 years. The healthy movements were a sort of a physical therapy -- AT the piano. I would actually feel better AFTER practicing. That's how healthy this approach is.
So, that leads us to my story . . . .(enter sad music in minor key :)
Video on Left: Amy Aberg McLelland after retraining: Video on Right: Amy Aberg b/f retraining:
On a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in October of 1994, I scrubbed mildew off of the outside of our house. (Unfortunately, I had not yet learned the secret of Clorox Bleach when working with mildew.) I also embarked upon a host of other heavy chores such as hedge clipping, wet-broom mopping, and other basic household cleaning chores. My arms were sore later that afternoon (imagine that!), so I took a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory that my husband had received from his doctor for a "crick" in his neck. I felt much better, and proceeded to practice that evening under the influence of these drugs -- Liszt Waldesrauchen and other solo works, accompanying music for the upcoming MTNA auditions and other recitals, etc.etc. The next morning I was horrified to awaken with numb arms/hands and sensations I had never felt before. I couldn't even hold my spoon to stir my coffee. Yet, as a good denialist, I attempted to play for Sunday church choir rehearsal and continued to try and teach throughout the following week. By mid-week the symptoms of numbness and pain had increased significantly (in both arms/hands).
My injury involved pain on the inside of the elbow. This pain would travel up and down my arm into my hands and shoulders and neck. Symptoms included aching, tenderness, tingling, soreness -- in short, constant pain. The acute tendinitis was causing an ulnar neuropathy and there was this horrible, constant nerve aggravation in my elbows that felt like "rich fudge" on a bad tooth filling. At its worst, it felt as if someone was taking a razor and sliding it along the nerve -- a horrible, raw feeling. (Not that I've ACTUALLY experienced this, mind you!)
I couldn't sleep well at night, and at times I couldn't even successfully hold my fork or my toothbrush. It was difficult to dress myself, write, type, dial a phone, cook. It was nearly impossible to do things like lift clothes out of the washer machine or wash my hair or hold my coffee mug, a gallon of milk, or even my eyeshadow brush or a piece of paper...forget about trying to play piano. Simply putting one key down was painful.
MY STRUGGLES TOWARD RECOVERY
Thus began my long stint of visits with many doctors and specialists. Over the course of 2 years, in an effort to find out why my arms and hands and fingers were often numb and in pain, I saw over 7 doctors and numerous physical/occupational therapists. The first doctor was at an overnight clinic for pain relief drugs. My regular internal medicine doctor could not see me "for a few months." (Incidentally, musicians are NOT taken as seriously as athletes --- we are neurotic souls who can not be trusted --- it's all "in our minds". My advice to musicians is ALWAYS respond "YES" when asked if you suffer from a sports-related injury -- you'll get to see a doctor THAT VERY DAY! ) Therefore, I traveled to my home state to see my previous internal medicine doctor who was gracious enough to work me in. Diagnosis = ulnar neuropathy. Cause? = needed to see a specialist for further diagnosis. So I consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who was recommended by another pianist. To prevent wasting this doctor's time, I had ripped a page out of my H.S. Human Physiology book with a diagram of the hand/arm upon which I had hi-lighted the misc. areas that had been numb or exhibited symptoms of pain -- (These areas, incidentally, traveled from day to day. It was impossible at this early stage to pinpoint the elbow as the "culprit" area.) This highly recommended orthopedic surgeon, however, proceeded to SLAP the page down on his desk. Without even listening to me or examining the picture, he immediately recommended that I consult a neurologist. I left in tears, no thanks to the steroids received from the 1st doctor. Since the orthopedic surgeon had failed to recommend a neurologist, I researched and traveled to the Oshner Clinic in New Orleans to consult a neurologist who administered a "nerve conduction test". (By the way -- he did an AWESOME job b/c I felt absolutely NO pain with this test!) Anyway, he then referred me back to a rheumatologist whose basic diagnosis was, (paraphrased): "It's bound to happen to every musician eventually. Not much you can do -- you also look like you'll probably get arthritis in the future." (JUST what I needed to hear! Mind you, I'm just barely 30 years of age at this point ... not ready to fall apart and be sent to the glue factory!)
Meanwhile, most of these doctors generally passed me on to a series of physical and occupational therapists. I don't have enough fingers to count all the therapists I consulted over the long haul. They made special splints, taught me EXTREME range of motion stretches, gave me a series of different colored putty balls to "squeeze upon" or to press my fingers into -- one at a time -- in an individualized/isolated manner. Some showed me how to wet a towel and then squeeze and twist the towel in efforts to build muscle mass. Parafin baths, magnet therapy and loads and loads of EXTREME range stretches. There was often greatly conflicting advice ... complete rest (with splint) versus extreme exercise and stretching. None of these "treatments" were helping -- in fact, some were hurting. Even the cortisone shots in the elbow did not provide relief. Since doctors didn't know how to help me, or even give me a concrete diagnosis, I tried to keep playing. They all simply said "try to play, and if it hurts, stop". The problem was that it didn't always hurt AS I was practicing, but would have a sort of delayed reaction. Quite simply, I could NOT play the piano and had to cancel approximately 35 recitals at the onset of the injury. At its worst, just playing one key on the piano would create horrible symptoms of numbness and weakness and pain. Some doctors even said, "why do you have to play piano? There are plenty of other jobs out there!" But the problem is, that every job I could think of somehow involved using my hands, whether typing, writing, filing, answering phones, being a hostess at a restaurant, sales clerk at a store, hanging clothes.... you name it!
I saw other doctors, received cortisone shots in the elbow, other types of tests, x-rays etc. Finally, after 2 years the last orthopedic surgeon I consulted said that my injury was "the worst case of golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis) that [he] had ever witnessed." Fortunately, and to his credit, this final surgeon did not immediately recommend surgery. If, after several months, (because "in theory, the injury should heal itself"), I had not received any relief, he would recommend an "ulnar nerve transplant" where they would cut open the arm, "clean out" the scar tissue etc. that had lodged in the elbow, and also relocate the ulnar nerve to a place that, (theoretically), would "protect" the nerve. (Technical description: Ulnar Transposition. As constant stretching and compression of the nerve in the Olecranon notch is the culprit, simply moving the nerve to the topside of the elbow, is often sufficient in stopping pain. This transposing of the nerve will often stop further muscle wasting as well, but any atrophy present in the hand, is generally irreversible.] (Incidentally, the pianists I've met since then that have had this surgery or other types of surgery have not found success.)
It was at this point I attended a healing service with a visiting doctor/minister (who was a retired orhtopedic specialist -- neurosurgeon? orthopedic surgeon? I can't remember.) Anyway, I had been praying for healing all along, and had been reading many books - reciting specific scripture etc. The minister/doctor laid hands on me and we prayed during the service. Then, we spoke privately in the pastor's office after the service and he told me that he had the leading that I was going to be healed, but that it was going to take time. That it would involve some work on my part, but that it would be worth it in the long run. When I mentioned to him about the surgery that was being recommended, he thought for awhile. Then he said something like, "God designed the placement for the ulnar nerve for a reason -- He knew what he was doing."
Shortly after this healing service, I attended a workshop presented at the local Jr. College by a pianist/piano teacher trained in the "Taubman Approach" -- Terry Dybvig. Her presentation distilled for me the validity of the Taubman approach with great clarity. She shared her success story of overcoming an injury herself, and I honestly could not find ANY holes in the logic of the information she presented during the lecture. It was at this point, I knew that movement retraining in the Taubman Approach was the way I could stay in music.
However, while the approach made total sense to me, I was undoubtedly still skeptical. (I mean, after 2 years of seeing doctors, how could this work? Were all these success stories of musicians who had recovered from injury genuine? Could it work for ME? etc.) So, I decided that if, after attending the Taubman Summer Piano Institute the following summer, I had not made any progress I would proceed with the surgery.
I guess God realized that, despite the advice of the minister/doctor, I was still contemplating the surgery and searching for a "quick fix" (or what I thought would be a "quick fix"). Once again, God sent me confirmation. During that 1st summer at The Taubman International Piano Festival, I met Dr. Frank Wilson, a neurologist from San Franscisco who works with injured musicians. Dr. Wilson was another important factor in my opting NOT to have the radical surgery on my elbow that was being recommended. He suggested that I do EVERYTHING Mrs. Taubman said, EXACTLY as she said it before even considering surgery, and I'm very thankful I followed his advice. Why? Because I would still be back in the same boat, even after the surgery...I would have gone back to all the unhealthy motions that I did that caused the injury in the first place. I would have been back in the same boat all over again.
In retraining, I had to become SO conscious and AWARE of every sensation in my fingers, hands, and arms -- in fact, my entire body. I even had to examine how the actual keys "felt" underneath my fingertips as I play --- I had become SO desensitized, physically speaking, over the years. I had to relearn how to sleep. In fact, for years, I would wake up with my fingers and hands curled up and my wrists broken, necessitating a conscious act of opening my hands and wrists to a more natural position. There was one occupational therapist from Laurel, MS who taught me several wonderful tricks. One involved a technic to help keep my arms from bending at the elbow when I slept -- she suggested wrapping a towel around my arms at the elbow, securing with string. These towels, combined with the splints to keep my wrist straight did not yield the most comfortable sleeping position, yet it did the trick in retraining and allowed me to awaken in much less pain the next morning.
I had to relearn how to hold things. For example, when I hold a telephone, I try to use a flat hand against the back of the phone to avoid CLENCHING, which is a very destructive motion, AND to avoid twisting the hand away from the forearm right/left at the wrist to an extreme range, which is another very destructive motion. I wrapped the handle of my hairbrush in tape to make the handle thicker. This allowed for a more open hand and longer fingers, preventing my fingers from curling or gripping. During the 1st year of recovery, I also did this with pencils until I re-learned how to hold a pencil or pen with longer fingers and a much looser grip, AND how to unify my hand motions with my forearm motions. Also, to help with cooking, I bought Good Grip cooking utensilsfor the kitchen -- and these are fabulous for ANYONE! Let's keep them coming! I learned the healthiest ways to carry groceries. I was told to always ask for PAPER bags when possible, so that you can "cradle" the bag in your arms holding the bags close to the body, rather than letting several plastic bags "dangle" with straight arms hanging at the side, (not engaging the biceps etc.). Likewise, it's important to have the elbows close to the body when lifting, or opening a door, or doing any continuous motion. I learned not to fidget. (DIFFICULT!) In years past, a Styrofoam cup might end up in about 60 pieces - and programs NEVER remained pristine and unfolded. Now, I could recycle these cups and programs if needed! (Your mother's words always come back to haunt you! "Sit up straight" "Don't fidget" -- ugh.)
The ultimate point is that everyone -- whether a pianist, typist, cook, or plumber -- should learn to move in healthy ways and avoid all harmful motions.
It is a shame that healthy, coordinate motions are not taught on a regular basis in school -- elementary through college. Through the course of any given day, I see so many splints -- whether on cashiers, typists, receptionists, laborers -- in fact, people from most walks of life seem to be plagued with some sort of injury. With healthy movements, most of these injuries could have been avoided in the first place. It's really misuse injuries -- not overuse. (Case in point: When I observe the principles of coordinate motion I can play the piano, or type etc.-- with damaged arms full of scar tissue -- ALL DAY LONG if I want to ...and never experience any tension, fatigue or pain. This was not the case before I worked-these healthy motions into my piano technic. .
Typing is an entire course all of its own. However, there are a few things that really helped me that you might want to keep in mind:
-Be be careful to use your forearm/hand to bring the finger into position to depress a key that is outside the natural range of the keyboard, rather than reach or stretch with the fingers.
-Try not to twist or misalign the arm and hand, (turning the hand to the right or left, away from the direction of the forearm)
-Try not to move the fingers in an "isolated" manner -- with the forearm being "fixed" (really still). This final aspect is perhaps the most important factor, and it's one of the fundamental principles of the Taubman approach --- that the fingers cannot "isolate" from the hand and forearm -- it is NOT the fingers alone, with a fixed and rigid forearm/arm. "The fingers, hand, and forearm move as a unit -- in the same direction, at the same time, with the same freedom"
Recently, a very gracious doctor responded to my e-mail regarding Mrs. Taubman's work. Her name is Dr. Nina Paris, and she's the Founder of The International Foundation for Performing Arts Medicine. In her e-mail she told me of her great respect for the Taubman approach, and stated that "every specialist who practices Performing Arts Medicine (should know) Mrs. Taubman's work." She also mentioned that there is a non-profit organization called the Office of Ergonomic Research which is trying to confirm whether computer keyboards really do cause such medical problems as carpal tunnel syndrome. They were studying two groups of people. One group was using a "traditional typing method" and the other was using the "Dorothy Taubman technique." She said (quote) "I know which one will have less problems!" Click here to read the results of another study.
For computer-related injuries you can visit this website for information on how the Taubman Approach can help get you out of pain.
While I never want to go through a similar experience, I will say that I'm thankful to have been blessed, (and this healing and recovery re-training IS the answer to much prayer), to have the opportunity to learn a technic that is so free and natural that I don't even have to "warm-up" before playing like I did in the past. I don't have to spend hours of scales and warm-ups -- I can just jump right into the literature -- fast or slow -- even if I haven't been practicing for several days or weeks. Hanon and other stupid warm-up exercises are a thing of the past, and yet my passagework is more even, with greater tonal control and speed galore than ever before. With my own performing and teaching, technical problems in the music are now solved quickly with tangible, scientific rules and solutions, instead of hours of practice and mindless drilling. This new way of playing also allows for faster, fuller, playing, with greater tonal control, speed, and precision than I ever thought possible.
My personal involvement with this work thus far includes a continuation of private study with Edna Golandsky and John Bloomfield, (traveling regularly to New York City and Atlanta), serving as a "P.A." (assistant teacher) at the 2000-2002 summer piano institutes at Williams College, Williamstown, MA, and at the 2004-present Golandsky Summer Symposium at Princeton University, as well as regular attendance at the bi-annual Teacher Training workshops in NYC and abroad.
"Dorothy Taubman's approach to piano technique is based on tenets as simple as the essential perfection of the human body and the ergonomic beauty and superiority of the piano, yet is so subtle and refined that one could explore it for a lifetime. One exciting aspect of learning this method is that no matter how easy it feels and how good it sounds today, there is nearly always more freedom, greater variety of sound, and greater speed available." read more
The Taubman Approach to piano playing is really not something new. In fact, the terms Method or Technic are not truly appropriate because it is not a new invention -- it's simply the way the body moves most naturally and easily.
What IS new, though, is that we have a clear language to describe COORDINATE MOTION -- to help pianists understand how our bodies work, how nature works, and what is behind a virtuosic technic. To give pianists a clear way to explain this way of moving....a vocabulary.
The Taubman Approach is based on the way that our bodies move naturally, QUESTIONING each movement. Whenever a part of our playing apparatus hurts or feels tense, something is wrong -- we are simply not moving in the most natural way. The Taubman Approach is actually the way that many child prodigies move instinctively, and it's the way that we ALL can move so that we never feel pain or tiredness when we play the piano. The Taubman Approach is based upon the teachings of Dorothy Taubman. These principles, codified even further through the work of several Taubman students, most notably, Edna Golandsky, have made a huge contribution to the 20th and 21st centuries' understanding of efficient movement at the piano.
When Mrs. Taubman began to teach she found that many students entered her studio with severe limitations and even crippling injuries. She knew that the traditional ways of teaching were not working. She observed that playing the piano was easy for some people, yet difficult for others --- that some pianists could play for a lifetime with no problems whereas others were injured.
In an article in the Boston Globe she states, ..
"I was horrified that some children were obviously in pain when they played. Others
were unable to play fast, or with a strong tone. Gradually I was able to make suggestions
that worked and then, little by little, I began to see a whole coordinate approach emerge;
I began to understand the body, what the fingers can do, and what they CANNOT do;
what the wrist and forearm can do and what they cannot. I understood how the fingers,
hands, and arms must work together as a unit, each part doing what it can do best,
She concluded that the pianists who play with ease and without injury must be doing something different from the others. And the miracle is, that she managed to identify some of the subtle differences which had ELUDED earlier observes, between the way the freest pianists moved and the way others moved.
"When students complain of pain or tiredness, they are told it is good for them,
that it is necessary for the development of muscles. 'No pain, no gain, has
been a false and dangerous motto. Instead, we SHOULD say that
'no pain IS your gain' because pain is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a warning sign
that something is wrong -- just as anywhere else in the body.
"Acceptance of pain and fatigue as a necessary adjunct of playing an instrument
has resulted in a large number of injured among us. The figures are indeed
staggering and, according to Doctor's surveys, it is higher among pianists.
Whereas open debate is encouraged in other fields, piano students rarely
question the instructions given them. Rather than have students follow
blindly, instructions should be given with explanations that stand up to
scientific challenge ... You should never accept something as fact just
because someone else said it. You should always be able to ask why,
like children. It is important that students also participate intellectually
in the process of their physical development. This will encourage an
awareness of what works for them, and damage can possibly be avoided."
"It's true that in our profession we are not generally encouraged to question for fear of challenging a teacher's authority. However, since so many people play with fatigue and even pain, perhaps it's time to start examining what is taught. It is the only way we'll really begin to understand the source of trouble."
The beginning of that last quote opens,
"All too often, when students fail to develop a lack of virtuosity,
it is assumed that it is a lack of talent, rather than a lack of knowledge."
As I personally continue to learn more about how to apply all of this new information to my teaching, this quote becomes SO clear to me. I now find that I can problem solve SO quickly. With this approach there are answers and solutions to every problem I've encountered -- whether in my own performance or in my teaching. And the wonderful thing is that, unlike every other approach to piano technic I've studied in my life, this is the first school of thought that OBEYS BASIC RULES OF PHYSICS AND ANATOMY and does not contradict itself halfway through.
I've seen these results proven time and again. I am but one of hundreds of pianists and instrumentalists who have been helped by Mrs. Taubman's and Edna Golandsky's teachings -- from concert pianists and doctors, to cellists and guitarists, to a French Hornist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to college and university professors at Oberlin, Julliard, and other fine institutions, to piano students of all ages and levels -- we've all been provided answers and solutions that have allowed us to play better than we ever dreamed possible.
Remarkably enough, the majority of the pianists who have studied this approach were never injured, but simply felt some sort of limitation in their technic or interpretation.
As you read the articles in this website, what I would most like to impart is the simple fact that...
our bodies are made to move --
our creative spirits are designed to express --
we should not allow a lack of knowledge to inhibit reaching our full potential.
In conclusion, I'll close with a quote from page 72 of the November/December Issue of Piano and Keyboard, with an article written by Edna Golandsky:
"People don't realize that some pianists are able to play, even to play beautifully, in spite of, rather than because of, their techniques. In the last decades, a few prominent pianists, such as Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman, have been open about the injuries they have suffered. You might think that such disclosures, and the disablements they describe, are admissions that have just begun to surface recently. You may be shocked, then, to read some of the frightening admissions made by past pianistic giants.
Clara Schumann wrote in her diary, "throughout my entire stay in Copenhagen, I always had to tolerate grief and anxiety concerning my fingers, which were constantly inflamed from much playing.
Chopin complained of an undeveloped fourth finger.
Paderewski wrote, "I had become used to the constant and terrifying pain in my arm, and I had also learned to play with 4 fingers only of my right hand, and to adjust my will and nerves to the ordeal ... I felt, as did the physicians, that I might never play again.
Scriabin wrote that his "tendons and inflamed muscles burned and ached." and his doctor ordered him to abstain from practicing and prognosticated the end of his career as a public performer.
When Artur Schnabel was diagnosed by his doctor with "neuritis", which no treatment seemed to help, he wisely referred to his problem as "my occupational disease."
Several of Rachmaninoff's letters are revealing: "I am very tired and my hands hurt. Every extra hand movement tires me." "My concert season has ended, and it is as if my hands have lost feeling." The more I get tired, the more pain I have. This means that by the end of the concert season, the pain is almost constant." "The blood vessels on my fingertips have begun to burst: bruises are forming. I don't say much about it at home, but it can happen in any concert. Then I can't play with that spot for about 2 minutes. I have to strum the chords."
Glenn Gould wrote in his diaries that he suffered from a very disturbing breakdown of control over his hands, which some feel was a dystonia, or an involuntary curling or "spasm" of the fingers. [Many of our colleagues today suffer from such a condition and other debilitating types of injuries. Medical professionals often say there is no treatment for dystonia, however many pianists have experienced complete recovery through movement retraining in the Taubman Approach. Click button to read about these musicians.]]
Clearly, our field has faced a problem of epidemic proportions for more than a century. We should, once and for all, realize that when we don't adhere to certain physiological laws, obey certain laws of motion, and have an awareness of how the piano works, there is a tremendous cost to the body. These laws are universal: they're based on the way the human body is built and moves, and the way the piano functions.
In short, if we don't learn what it means to move in a healthy, coordinated way, it will be impossible to avoid the physically disabling and psychologically devastating results that afflicted so many of our pianistic forebears, and that continue to afflict many pianists and other instrumentalists today."
Mrs. Taubman's approach is not really something new.....she has simply deciphered a natural phenomenon --- the way the body moves most naturally. Most importantly, she has given us a clear way to explain this...a vocabulary.
I strongly encourage any pianist -- of any level -- who is looking for ways to improve their playing to attend the Golandsky Summer Symposium at Princeton University. You'll meet pianists from around the world -- concert pianists, college professors, independent teachers, amateurs, accompanists, church musicians -- all working together in one of the most supportive environments you'll ever encounter in the music world.
Most importantly, you'll get a taste of the most delicious feeling of effortless piano playing. I also strongly encourage any serious pianist or teacher to view the Taubman Technique Videos (set of 10 videos) and the many amazing DVD's of Edna Golandsky. There are 100's of pianists and musicians from around the world who are living proof of what this wonderful body of knowledge can do when applied correctly and consistently. Read more testimonies.
(Review of Videos #1-5), Clavier Magazine, Volume 36, No. 5, May/June 1997, page 23. Review by Jane Magrath
"The eagerly anticipated video tapes, The Taubman Piano Techniques, are now available, and the five-volume series lives up to all expectations by providing clear, detailed instructions with logic and insight. They offer pianists an in-depth analysis of a technique for virtuosity as well as the prevention of injuries. Where tapes cannot substitute for personal lessons and one-on-one work, students can gain an extensive amount of knowledge from them. Taubman helped the careers of many performers, even rescuing some with her work.
The series consists of ten hours of lectures packed with wisdom and insight that are presented by Edna Golandsky at the Taubman School at Amherst College [now the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University, NJ] and Dorothy Taubman provides commentary and segments of masterclasses. The video format is helpful because portions of lessons can be reviewed at any time as opposed to a one-time live lesson. A booklet accompanies the video tapes, providing an addenda to the cassettes with comments by Taubman or Golandsky on points made in the lectures.
Volume 1, Introductory Principles and Concepts, covers coordination, mechanics of the piano, the leverage system, muscles involved in piano playing, finger movements, determining the height of the bench, and causes of injuries; there is also an evaluation of exercises. A masterclass on the Liszt Sonetto del Petrarca #104 concludes the tape. Volume 2, Forearm Rotation, covers such topics as finger work and speed, double and single rotation, using the thumb, and forearm rotation in scales, chords, arpeggios, repeated notes, and double thirds. A segment focuses on working with injured pianists.
In and Out Arm Movements, Volume 3, discusses backward and forward shifts for different finger lengths, shifts from white to black keys and vice versa, forearm rotation combined with in-and-out arm movements, scales and arpeggios, wide fingers in black-key areas, and double-note tremolos. The video presents the D major and C minor scales as examples of in-and-out motions.
Walking Arm and Hand Movements, Volume 4, discusses adjusting the forearm laterally and vertically, synchronizing the fingers, using the forearm and hand weight for chords, legato chords and intervals, negotiating distances, combining walking arm with rotation, broken octaves, and alternating from double intervals or chords to single notes. A question and answer period concludes the volume, covering videos 1 to 4.
The last tape, Shaping and Octaves, includes all curvilinear motion, the technical and interpretive aspects of shaping, and handling chords, intervals, legato, and dynamics. A discussion of octaves covers such areas as rotation, free fall and rebound of the forearm, legato and speed, and shaping, and there is a masterclass excerpt on the Schubert Sonata in A Major, Op. Posth.
One of the strengths of this video series is its detailed technical approach to piano playing. All aspects of the Taubman technique combine to promote ease, natural hand position, and painfree performance. Dorothy Taubman's technique has helped many pianists in the United States in the past 30 years, and these tapes will enlighten even more performers."