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pianomap : The Taubman Approach

Dorothy Taubman, a New York piano teacher now in her eighties, has made a huge contribution to our understanding of efficient movement at the piano. In her teaching, Taubman observed that playing the piano is easy for some people, difficult for others. She saw that some pianists play for a lifetime with no problems whereas others are injured, and she concluded that the pianists who play with ease and remain free of injury must be doing something different from the others. She managed to identify some of the subtle differences between the way the freest pianists moved and the way others moved. Generalizing from her observations, she concluded that certain ways of moving at the piano--those, for example that involve co-contraction (which she called "dual muscular pulls"), chronic ulnar deviation (which she called "twisting") or excessive force--are limiting and potentially injurious. The value of her approach is shown by the many injured pianists who have been cured by adopting it and the many other pianists who, though never injured, have achieved new levels of skill.

The application of the Taubman movements to specific pianistic situations--leaps, octaves, arpeggios, etc--is often brilliantly effective. Almost all pianists, even highly accomplished ones, can develop more perfect use of fingers hands and forearm, and consequently almost all pianists, injured or not, who have studied the Taubman Approach have improved, even transformed, their playing.

The Taubman Approach, as usually taught, may not address all of a pianists' concerns. For example, some people need to pay explicit attention to the proper use of the back, shoulders, and neck at the piano, in addition to the hand, wrist, and forearm which are the focus of Taubman instruction. Nevertheless, Dorothy Taubman made crucial, revolutionary discoveries about proper movement at the piano, which should be taken seriously by all pianists and teachers. Her insights into bodily motion at the piano are entirely consistent with, and appropriately supplemented by, the discoveries of Alexander, Feldenkrais, Conable, and others concerning efficient use of the entire body.

For many years, the Taubman Institute of Piano sponsored a two-week summer institute in Massachusetts which presented a systematic introduction to Dorothy Taubman's work. Now the work of the Taubman Institute is being carried forward by the Golandsky Institute, headed by Edna Golandsky who studied for many years with Dorothy Taubman and is the principal exponent of her approach. Several former faculty members of the Taubman Institute, including Robert Durso, are now associated with the Golandsky Institute.

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