The Taubman Approach

The Taubman Approach is a groundbreaking analysis of the mostly invisible motions that function underneath a virtuoso technique. The resulting knowledge makes it possible to help pianists overcome technical limitations. It also provides a foundation for teaching and understanding tone production and other components of expressive playing.

The Taubman Approach was developed by Dorothy Taubman through more than 50 years of study and research, analyzing the motions needed for virtuoso piano playing and musical expression. Her work produced a  comprehensive approach to piano technique that can also prevent and cure fatigue, pain, and other playing-related injuries.  Edna Golandsky worked most closely with Taubman during much of this time, contributing to and clarifying the technical ideas.

This approach is based upon the following principles:

  1. Unity. The fundamental principle of the Taubman Approach maintains that the fingers, hand, and forearm must always operate as a synchronized unit, with each part doing what it does best.
  2. Mid-Range Motion. Otto Ortman discovered that movement in the mid-range of motion produces minimum fatigue and maximum accuracy, and that tension increases as the extreme range of motion is approached. Therefore all movement needs to be produced in the mid-range of motion.
  3. Alignment. Correct alignment of the body parts in the finger, hand, and arm unit must be maintained under all conditions to allow them to move within their mid-range of motion with greater frequency.
  4. Division of Labor. No single body part will perform all of the labor. Instead, labor will be divided between all the body parts that are able to perform a given action.
  5. Efficient Use of Equipment. The mechanism of the piano will be used within its limits of design and to its most productive effect with minimum muscular effort.
  6. Minimal Muscular Effort. Gravity becomes a more readily available tool when performing work under these conditions, thereby decreasing muscular effort. Gravity should be employed to reduce the subjective sense of physical effort in every action.

Process of Learning the Taubman Approach

There are three stages of learning the Taubman Approach. Since it is a diagnostic approach, each of the stages may be somewhat different for each person. The movements that one brings to it will determine their own needs. 

In the first stage, one must unify and align the finger, hand, and forearm unit.

Next, one must learn the basic movements of the Taubman Approach, which when done correctly, will enable the fingers, hand, and forearm to remain unified and aligned while playing and moving at the piano.  These movements include forearm rotation, walking hand and arm, in and out movements, and shaping.

Third, one learns to apply these movements to repertoire.  In this stage, the movements will be combined and integrated to optimize the specific division of labor needed for each piece. This can mean different things in different pieces.

Learning the Taubman Approach is best accomplished with private lessons from a qualified teacher.

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