Taubman Approach Benefits All
Many years ago, my grandfather, an Iowa farmer, bought a piano for a dollar at an auction and gave it to my family, because "every child should learn to play the piano." Little did I know that this was the beginning of a fascinating journey that would span my lifetime.
Teaching and performing have always been two of my greatest passions. I started reading music and playing the piano long before I could read books. It was truly my first real skill. In a way, teaching found me. When I was 15, my mother, then a piano teacher, took on another job and I suddenly found myself with an instant piano studio! I continued teaching through high school and college. After finishing my Masters degree in Piano Performance from Eastman, I was fortunate to find both a performing job as Principal Keyboardist in the Omaha Symphony and a college teaching job at Creighton University.
Truly, the best of both worlds...until I was sidelined by a career threatening injury.
Thinking I needed to change careers, I decided before I did so, to try one last avenue. I attended the Taubman Institute and it was there that Dorothy Taubman said to me, "Your problems can be solved and you will play again without pain." Little did I know that her words would prove to be life-changing and redesign my career path. Through my study of the Taubman Approach, I became fully rehabilitated and play much better now than I did post- Eastman.
I enjoy teaching a diverse group of students who have a variety of musical goals. Whether the student is a college music major, piano teacher, young child, injured student, or amateur adult, teaching each one to move with freedom and ease, produce beautiful tone and unravel technical problems that inhibit their artistic expression is extremely gratifying.
Last year, I was honored and humbled to be chosen as the 2014 Kansas Outstanding Teacher of the Year. When I was interviewed, I was asked to name the student winners I had taught over the years. It was very rewarding to reflect on the many students I’ve taught their successes. However, some of my biggest winners have been those who came to me injured and are now able to play again.
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While the Taubman Approach saved my performing career and has been invaluable to me as a pianist, I marvel at the countless ways the concepts of this approach benefit each of my students in so many varied ways. Whether I'm working with an average young beginner whose parents think piano instruction is a necessity, or retraining an injured student trying to finish a college degree, the Taubman Approach offers an endless array of solutions that are both effective and empowering. I am able to give my students the technical tools needed to be both independent thinkers and problem solvers. Teaching a student to maximize their potential is extremely rewarding.
While there are many approaches to piano technique, I feel like the luckiest person alive to have discovered a comprehensive approach to piano playing that solves thorny passages and allows for complete freedom and ease. It continues to enrich my life and the lives of those students with whom I am fortunate to teach.
I am looking forward to the years of continued discovery that lie ahead. As Rachmaninoff so aptly said, "Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." Agreed.
Elizabeth Grace is active as collaborative artist, teacher, and clinician. She has been involved with the Taubman Approach for 27 years and is a certified teacher by the Golandsky Institute. She is a faculty member at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music Summer Academy. Ms. Grace has taught at Rice University (Houston, TX) and Creighton University (Omaha, NE). A nationally certified member of the Music Teachers National Association, Ms. Grace currently teaches in the Kansas City metropolitan area, New York City, and via Skype. She is the recipient of the 2014 Kansas Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award and the 2017 Steinway and Sons Top Teacher Award for Outstanding Instruction and Leadership in Piano Instruction.