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#1889842 - 05/02/12 07:34 AM Taubman virtuosos
stevenpn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/11
Posts: 30
Loc: Pasadena, CA
I've recently come across yet more practitioners of Taubman's approach to piano technique. Her adaptation of Matthay's theory of rotation, whatever one thinks about it, certainly has some perennial appeal. It does offer a distinct alternative to the more typical approach, which is so dependent on contraction of the arm muscles.

Rather than start a debate on whether the Taubman technique (primarily forearm rotation) really works, can anyone name a top flight pianist who uses a Taubman style technique?

Thanks,
Steven

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#1889849 - 05/02/12 08:11 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
joe80 Online   content
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Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1097
I'll look into this in more depth later. Every pianist uses a bit of forearm rotation depending on circumstance. Someone rather well known on the concert circuit once told me that the best technique is the one that gets you to where you need to be on the keyboard, in the shortest time possible and without any pain or strain. He added, people don't like to think of it like that because everyone wants a prescribed 'method'.

I think what he was saying is that methods are fine as long as they work and allow freedom and can be adapted for any given situation - be it a piece or a particular student.

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#1889866 - 05/02/12 08:54 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
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Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Interesting question - The technique has only really taken a foothold in the last 20 years or so. Of course, Dorothy has been teaching longer than that, but her techniques have not been broadcast for all that long.

For me, Taubman is all about awareness. Awareness of how our body works and how to take full advantage of that to accomplish our musical goals at the piano. There are many many pianists that have attended her seminars and related seminars that she is not directly involved in, but what they take away and what they actually use might be a different story.

Anyway, here in Philly there are professors at Temple University, Eastern University, and Curtis Institute that incorporate the Taubman approach into their teaching. A few pianists that I know personally that use it include:

Susan Nowicki, Curtis
Maria Del Pico Taylor, Temple
Michael Frank, Temple
Robert Durso, pianist
Joao Paulo Casaroti, pianist
Jeff Nations, Settlement School

I hope that helps.
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#1890099 - 05/02/12 06:33 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
jdw Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 947
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Also there's Ilya Itin, who's on the Golandsky Institute faculty.

Another impressive pianist who has a lot of insightful things to say about his Taubman/Golandsky studies is Josu de Solaun (http://www.golandskyinstitute.org/about/letters-entry/josu_de_solaun).
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#1890635 - 05/03/12 05:54 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
joe80 Online   content
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Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1097
I use some of that technique actually, but I'm not sure I use all of it.

I sit a little lower at the keyboard perhaps, but the idea of the finger being an extension of the arm (which it is), and the use of the arm to support the finger is pretty fundamental stuff to me, and the support of the finger at the metacarpal joint etc, is all good stuff.

I guess the idea is that technique should become part of you, so that you never think about it again after you have it.

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#1890716 - 05/03/12 08:55 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: Rich Galassini]
master88er Offline
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Registered: 04/15/07
Posts: 844
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Interestingly, Marc Steiner (Taubman and Golandsky teacher) was in my shop yesterday.
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#1890773 - 05/03/12 10:31 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19672
Loc: New York
None of any great note, in history, ever.

Does that mean anything?
You could argue either way, but I think it does.

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#1890791 - 05/03/12 11:19 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Kaplinsky, MacDonald and Martin, all major piano faculty at Juilliard ( MacDonald is also major faculty at Curtis, and all 3 were formerly at Peabody ) are all heavily influenced by the Taubman methods, although none of them is anywhere near as dogmatic as what you would find at the Taubman or Golandsky institutes.
Many of the world's best young pianists study or have studied with these three.
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#1890794 - 05/03/12 11:32 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: Keith D Kerman]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
....none of them is anywhere near as dogmatic....

Big, big difference.

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#1890903 - 05/04/12 06:55 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
stevenpn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/11
Posts: 30
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Lots of good leads. Thank you all. I went through Youtube in search of footage of the names mentioned on this thread. None really seemed to use forearm rotation, at least not to the extent demonstrated by Golandsky & Taubman in their video series. If the pianists listed here are using rotation, they're extremely subtle about it.

Below are two virtuoso examples on Youtube from the names above. Neither of them, nor anything else I was able to find, exhibit the suppination-pronation style of playing emphasized by Matthay/Taubman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH0mg_uzh8w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUDXEURdL24

Indeed, I've never seen anyone play, say, a Chopin etude or something quite technically formidable with that characteristic rocking left and right popularized by Mrs. Taubman. Let's put aside whether there's more to Taubman than that. What I want to get at is whether rotation really works in difficult music. I'd love to see some examples of rotation in action in the service of some treacherous passage work.

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#1890909 - 05/04/12 07:13 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3304
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Originally Posted By: stevenpn
If the pianists listed here are using rotation, they're extremely subtle about it.


The faster you play, the smaller your movements need to be. In the case of rotation, it is taught with extremely exagerated movement and then as the student masters the technique, the movement gets more and more minimized.
Taubmanites insist that other than the basic principles of rotation, they have very little in common with Matthay. However, remember Matthay's famous book is entitled The Visible and Invisible in Pianoforte technique with one of Matthay's key points being that what you see when observing someone playing and what is actually happening are two completely different things.
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#1890910 - 05/04/12 07:19 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
jdw Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 947
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
The rotation as taught by Taubman/Golandsky is not really visible at speed. It's slowed down and enlarged for teaching purposes, but in repertoire it becomes a matter of micro-movements that keep the arm and fingers fully coordinated. So as you say, you won't find the virtuosos making funny-looking arm movements. This does not mean they are not using the technique. What you see in the playing is great coordination and freedom from strain.

I am not that advanced, but I've had other players say they wouldn't know from watching that I was using a different technical approach, if I hadn't told them. It just looks like good technique.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#1891039 - 05/04/12 11:36 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: jdw]
piano joy Offline
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Registered: 03/28/11
Posts: 807
Loc: Florida
Stevenpn, why don't you just contact one of them via their website, golandsky institute, and pose this same question to them ?

I've met Robert Durso at a local seminar and have heard and seen him play- he's very helpful and approachable; I'm told they all are!
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#1891722 - 05/05/12 01:28 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 947
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Browsing around, I found this in the FAQs on the Golandsky Institute website:

Why Are Some Of The Demonstrations In The 10 Taubman Technique DVDs Exaggerated?
APRIL 17, 2012
The 10 Taubman Technique DVDs were tailored to feedback at the time that Taubman students wanted to see the mostly invisible movements comprising the Taubman Approach, as the technique merely looks “natural” or “effortless” when minimised. To suit this need, some demonstrations are exaggerated and are thereby unrepresentative of the integrated technique. The large rotation is often a necessary stage in the learning, but is not the final result.
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#1983446 - 11/06/12 01:51 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Lelax Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 41
With the proliferation of digital pianos, and the legions of new amateur pianists, the issue of piano technique becomes more important. Here's why. Bad technique often leads to repetitive motion injuries to the hand, wrist, and even forearm. This is the main reason I became interested in the Taubman approach. It offers hope to those who want to practice hours per day without incurring injuries.

My rough understanding is the Taubman system makes use of natural motions that generate very little stress on the neuro-muscle physiology of the human hand and arm. Three natural motions are used in such a way that vulnerable muscle systems are always relaxed while playing. Roughly, the three motions allowed are flexor muscles of the fingers and thumbs, rotation of the forearm and wrist, and falling motions of the forearm. For example, octaves are played with relaxed extensors allowing the fingers and hand to relax and naturally extend by contact with the keys. At least, that's how I think about it. I can also add that using Taubman like techniques has nearly eliminated wrist and hand pain and inflammation, and allowed me to continue daily practice sessions of several hours each.

Before I started using Taubman-like mechanics I did often feel persistent pain, mainly in the the right wrist and hand. A hand therapist friend of mine recommended ice cube massage on the affected areas. So, if you already have forearm, wrist, hand, or finger pain, 5-10 minute icecube massage on the sore spots done daily over a few weeks can be effective in reducing or eliminating existing painful conditions. NSAIDs can also be helpful. Take only as directed with meals or snacks. You may also want to consult a hand therapist or MD about it, if pain persists over weeks or months.

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#1983464 - 11/06/12 02:55 PM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
I think the interesting question would be how many of the great pianists used Taubman's approach or an equivalent at least to some degree even if they did it automatically and had never heard of Taubman(or were around before Taubman was born).

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#1983681 - 11/07/12 06:51 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: pianoloverus]
Lelax Offline
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Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 41
Ah...yes. Good observation, good mechanics has been around long before the Taubman formulation. We can give Taubman et al. credit for formalizing, advocating, and teaching. Your point about great pianists of past generations is intriguing. We do have film and video of performances dating back probably 80-90 years. Technique could be visible in some cases. Going back further, we have period literature on various methods of teaching piano. All this may provide the history minded with the answers to the Q. Probably some Ph.D. thesis has been written on this topic, at a guess. Any experts on the history of piano technique out there? Help us out pls.

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#1985978 - 11/13/12 02:40 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: stevenpn]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5286
Loc: Philadelphia
I spent several years working with Bob Durso in Philly. I think one of the ideas that was greatly emphasized, which is congruent to pianoloverus's question, is that the Taubman approach was created by observing "the motions that great pianists were naturally/intrinsically using." If that truly is the foundational approach, then it would seem to follow that students utilizing the Taubman approach would be learning the types of motions that generate the "proper" technique of the greatest pianists.

So, it is not so much to say that Taubman is doing something "new" that has "never been done before". I don't think I've ever seen that in their literature. What they do seem to say is that they are making accessible the "proper" technique of the great pianists by taking a categorical and scientific/academic approach to movement.

I think one of the reasons we have not seen a very famous pianist utilize this approach includes the idea that, compared to "traditional" pedagogy, which dates back hundreds of years, Taubman is fairly young to the game. Another reason may be that, compared to "traditional" pedagogy, there are relatively few Taubman teachers. Their network is expanding, and the number of certified teachers has grown exponentially in the last decade, but it's probably still at least a 1:100 ratio, if not smaller. I think a third reason may be this: there could be a very famous pianist who studied with a Taubman teacher, but because of the negative "stigma" that much of the "elitist" community holds towards Taubman, they are reluctant to come forward and state their affiliation.

I think the third reason is less likely than the other two, but warrants at least a passing recognition that such a condition may exist--or may have existed. Remember, to reach that kind of "fame", we are not talking about someone hitting the scene today. The majority of famous pianists' careers are nearing or have reached their end, with only a small percentage still performing. (Such is the very nature of art--not to say that a genre is dwindling, but that fame takes a certain amount of time to acquire, and so the number of famous people in the past is much greater than the number of famous people in the present; and the difference grows larger over time.) So, when considering the "stigma" mentioned, we must consider what existed then, and not necessarily what exists now.
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#1986001 - 11/13/12 04:34 AM Re: Taubman virtuosos [Re: Keith D Kerman]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Taubmanites insist that other than the basic principles of rotation, they have very little in common with Matthay.
If that's the case then they doth protest too much! Matthay certainly based his approach on watching the great and good - attending an Anton Rubinstein concert being one of his watershed moments.

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