Piano pedagogy | The Taubman Approach
AN APPROACH FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The Taubman Approach is already well established in the 21st century. It is a pedagogy based on the observation of the hand in a natural position, and thus turns its back on the traditional methods inherited from 18th-century art of the keyboard treatises and methods of virtuosity exercises of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Every aspect of playing has been revisited, letting go of the notion of the isolated finger hammering the keyboard in a frozen hand and a body often in pain or injured.
This is not a method, but a global approach where each element of keyboard playing is studied, leaving no detail to chance. Focusing on the correct use of the hand and body, the approach makes it possible to play with greater ease and expression, while preventing tension and injuries such as tendinitis, bursitis, dystonia and others.
Many pianists with such injuries have benefited from the Taubman Approach and have been able to start playing again. Retraining allows them to fully recover while improving their playing, as it frees them from the physical limitations they faced. It is an accessible approach for pianists of all ages and all levels, whether professional or amateur.
Nearly 50 years ago, American pedagogue Dorothy Taubman analyzed the micro-movements of hundreds of naturally gifted pianists. She was thus able to establish the principles of piano playing that inspired the development of the Taubman approach.
In 2000, the Golandsky Institute (www.golandskyinstitute.org), founded by Edna Golandsky, set out to develop and promote the teaching of the Taubman Approach. The four founding members, Edna Golandsky, Robert Durso, John Bloomfield and Mary Moran – all students of Mrs. Taubman – have since worked tirelessly to train and help a host of pianists. They have also introduced a teacher training program to disseminate the teaching as widely as possible.
In recent years, countless lectures and master classes have been given in the United States, as well as in several European countries including England and Switzerland. Conferences are also held in Turkey, Australia and Canada. Today the Taubman Approach is recognized worldwide.
Anne Marchand, pianist and teacher (Joliette)
There is no age to learn the Taubman Approach. As far as I am concerned, it allows me to deconstruct bad pianistic habits and to reconstruct my movements in a way that is much better adapted to the instrument, the body and musical expression. At Mary Moran’s master class in Montréal, I had the opportunity to see and hear young pianists whose playing is already moving in the right direction. This is obviously ideal!
This piano technique is based on a deep understanding of the anatomy and the physiology of the hand and arm. I have been practising it for several years and am amazed to find that all body tension due to piano playing has an explanation and solutions. By paying attention to body sensation, we become aware of everything that is happening. The approach addresses every detail of every issue, allowing the pianist to play with comfort and agility.
I find it very interesting and stimulating to work with different teachers trained in this approach, because we benefit from both a common method – which makes the work consistent – and the diversity of their individual perspective.
– F. L., listening pedagogue and pianist
The Taubman Approach allows me to rediscover the pleasure of playing in an effortless, free and natural manner. As a result, I can manage technical difficulties without physical pain or tension, allowing more room for musical expression.
– D. L. (Toronto)
I discovered the existence of the Taubman Approach quite by accident and I must admit that it has had a decisive effect on my approach to the piano. I was dissatisfied with my technique, which limited me in selecting and performing classical repertoire.
The approach developed by Dorothy Taubman focuses on using the body naturally. It calls for the seamless integration of the movement of the fingers, hand and forearm. This results in greater ease, minimal effort and energy, and more accurate and nuanced playing, all of which contribute to developing virtuosity.
I am not there yet. But after a little more than a year of study under the direction of Mariko Sato, I am already able to appreciate every step of my learning journey. My playing is more natural, more accurate, more musical, and therefore more satisfying.
At the same time, the approach develops attention, concentration, discipline and patience – fully integrating mind, body, instrument and score – which also allows me to discover the deep meaning of the music.