I first discovered Edna Golandsky, the Golandsky Institute and the Taubman approach back in 2010. I remember being very frustrated at the time. Despite several years of hard work and education, playing the piano still felt like a struggle. Even though I could play demanding repertoire, it didn’t feel like I could rely on it and I felt my technique was limited. This, together with many years of inner frustration, made me realize that something might be wrong, and that I had to do something about it if I wanted to continue my life as a performing pianist.
Luckily I stumbled across some of Edna’s videos on YouTube. It was mesmerizing to watch how she explained and demonstrated piano technique with a logic, precision and clarity beyond anything I had seen before. I ordered her ten DVDs on the Taubman techniques at once, and studied them thoroughly for years. These DVDs saved my pianistic life; I managed to acquire new knowledge and skills that made me feel a lot better about myself as a pianist, and learning repertoire and performing difficult passages became a lot easier.
I finally met Edna in person at a summer course she held in Madrid, Spain in 2019 and she gave me two lessons. Even though I had a pretty good understanding of this work due to all the years I had spent with the DVDs, a new world opened up to me in these lessons.
It’s hard to describe, but just two lessons were enough to produce an entirely new sensation in my hands that I didn’t even know could exist. The concrete guidance and insight of Edna during the lessons made such an impact that I decided I just had to find a way to go to New York for a longer period to study with her.
Fast forwarding to April 2020, I started taking lessons with Edna on Skype, since my planned four-month trip to New York became impossible due to Covid-19. My goal was total mastering of the Taubman Techniques, so we embarked on the journey of retraining from scratch. For that to work optimally, initially a period of time in which you don’t play any repertoire is required. I had six weeks available for that. During those weeks we managed to get through the basic work of retraining, after which I had developed a new way of playing. Six weeks is probably less than usual, but it shows that this can be done rather quickly sometimes.
This process is one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had, and it is by far the best thing that has ever happened to my piano playing. By working on basic movements under Edna’s guidance, the way my fingers and arms played the piano changed. We started with big, exaggerated motions, and went into smaller and smaller motions, until they just became adjustments that, miraculously, provided me with a playing apparatus I never imagined existed within me. I could feel how my playing mechanism evolved from being stiff and tense to being free and fast. As I progressed, everything became more refined. In the beginning it was all basic movements: not stretching, not isolating, alignment and so on. But as the basic work shifted to advanced work, it became more about understanding the subtle relation between each technical component, such as how small I could feel the rotation, how to synchronize it completely with the smallest finger movements and how to bring my inner musical feelings out through my technique. At the same time an awareness of the forearm developed, and I started to feel how I could to use it correctly to both produce the sound I wanted, and cover distances.
Now, after almost a year with lessons, I can safely say that I am playing the piano at a level I personally didn’t even dare to hope for when I first started taking lessons.
I could never imagine what a truly well-functioning technique could feel like, and I believe the key to true understanding of the Taubman Techniques is this crucial process of basic work guided by a real expert teacher. The end result depends on how well the basics are taught and absorbed. Without this process, I believe it’s impossible to get from the point of having the right knowledge to having the right understanding and sensations.
Finally, I would like to mention that as I continue to take lessons, my technique keeps improving. I am now able to tackle pieces I didn’t think I could ever play before, and it’s a truly wonderful feeling.
I look forward to spending the rest of my pianistic life exploring and developing within the Taubman Approach, and I can’t stress enough how eternally grateful I am to Edna for what she has done for me. I have never seen a better piano pedagogue, and I am just so happy I met her and finally started taking lessons. For the first time in my entire life, I actually feel like I know what I am doing at the piano. She has given me back my dream of playing and teaching like a master. Thank you, Edna Golandsky, for being a wonderful human being and a true master!
Dimitris Kostopoulos – January 2021