My experience with Ms. Golandsky took place when I was a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, as a pianist in training who specializes mainly in opera and other vocal repertoire. Unlike piano literature purely written for the instrument and a pianist’s body, operas and their respective piano reductions are not written in a way that completely agrees with the functions of a human hand (one would often encounter a “killer” piano reduction, completely unplayable, written by someone who can not play the piano at all), and it could be physically quite demanding – plainly said, playing opera is playing a lot of octaves, big chords, repeated notes, tremolos, and passages written for a different instrument or a group of instruments in the orchestra.
I had been trained from an early age in Japan with a technique focused on finger isolation, and as I was deepening my studies for the opera repertoire, I had experienced several episodes of tendonitis, and had believed that my body was simply not cut out to play this music with ease, due to my petite build and the lack of “power”. I had been treated to several steroid injections in my wrist, only to be disappointed by the pain that would attack me again several years later. I had always lived with the fear of having to stop doing the work that I love with all my heart due to the imminent chronic injury.
Working with Ms. Golandsky was for me a transformative experience, both physically and mentally. Through her work and philosophy, not only my technique but also my mindset had been completely transformed. Aside from the obvious physical aspects, one of the greatest gifts from her was the experience of learning how to be non-judgmental – as she said to me in my first lesson, “nothing is wrong with you” – and that when encountering a problem, one should observe it with specificity and generosity, and proceed while accepting the state of the mind, the brain and the body, and guiding them gently to do their work in the most natural, efficient way. Before I worked with Ms. Golandsky, I had believed that learning and improving my performance should be a painful process – always a war with my misperceived physical incapability, and also inconfidence. And oftentimes, I would discover that a “bad habit” was a result of physical and/or mental trauma that I had imposed on myself in the history of my playing, and uncovering and learning from my own background through Ms. Golandsky’s guidance was a fascinating experience.
I had countless eye-opening moments in my work with her – but I will never forget that moment when I played an octave chord with both hands for the first time under her guidance. I felt like I had made absolutely no physical effort, the sound itself was so deep, beautiful and released, and I felt like I was being gently embraced by the piano and the beauty of its natural sonority. It was a sensation I had never experienced in all my 25 years of piano playing.
Without Ms. Golandsky’s work and dedication, I would not be where I am today – fearless, because I now know that there is always a way. Words fail to express my gratitude for her, and I sincerely encourage anyone to approach her technique, who believes that they deserve pain in order to do what they love.