“Playing the piano should feel delicious.” Delicious! I reread the word several times in disbelief. I was on the verge of selling my piano and giving up any hope of ever playing again, when I happened to be leafing through the latest copy of Clavier to reach my doorstep. One of the featured articles was on Dorothy Taubman’s contribution to pedagogy, and it was her quote that I had just read. In my world, “delicious” and “playing the piano” were not related. Instead, piano playing was synonymous with devastation, disappointment, and pain. At that moment, I decided to investigate the Taubman Approach. Shortly thereafter, I attended a workshop on the Taubman technique and discovered a wonderful holistic, physiological approach to the piano based on problem solving. An added benefit was finding out I was trainable.
In the late 1970s, I was one of a number of casualties from graduate school, where I developed a severe case of tendinitis in my forearms. Despite numerous doctors, surgery, and years of physical therapy, I could still barely play anything without pain. I knew that the technique I had been taught in graduate school was the cause, but had still not found a pain-free alternative.
The following summer, I started the retraining process at the Golandsky Institute and have been studying with John Bloomfield, the Faculty Chair, ever since. John is a master pedagogue and lecturer in the Taubman technique, with the added benefit of being very patient, kind, and supportive. His teaching is based on a logical progression of steps, whereby he guides the student through the layers of the Taubman technique. He can immediately diagnose a technical problem and explain how to resolve it, and he can thoroughly answer any technical question. Instead of giving nebulous ideas about how to get a certain effect, he will show how to use the arm, hand, and fingers so that the desired sound is created. A slight movement is usually all that is needed for a technical problem to disappear. It’s like magic with a good dose of common sense thrown in. I’m always amazed after a lesson at how much I have learned and how something that was so difficult is now easy! It’s also starting to feel “delicious.”
If only all pianists studied the Taubman Approach! Not only would the level of playing be much higher, but injuries damaging to technique would disappear. For people who experience any type of discomfort or pain when playing the piano or who are not pleased with any aspect of their playing, studying with an expert Taubman-trained teacher can result in a level of playing and ease that is hard to imagine.