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What Doctors Say

Read what doctors are saying about the Taubman Approach.

It’s difficult to overemphasize the joy that I have experienced in discovering the Golandsky Institute after more than 50 years of serious dedication to the piano. At long last, through the Taubman Approach, I have found the ideal means to near-effortless, directed physical mastery of keyboard technique. Each time that I watch the Taubman Technique videos I discover yet another nuance of this very elegant approach to the correct application of technique to physical and musical performance! In 2008, I had the first opportunity to attend The Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium at Princeton, where these core principles were introduced and re-inforced in an intensive and extraordinarily supportive, interactive and synergistic format. This is certainly an experience that I am hoping to repeat, with the conviction that the potential for continued growth is profound. One of the revelations of the symposium was the exposure to the benefits of the Taubman approach for other instrumentalists; indeed, it is apparent that avoiding injury at the computer, or with any repetitive stress, can be maximized by applying the Taubman principles! As a physician, it is clear that this approach emphasizes the soundest of principles related to movement, and with proper movement, musical expressivity can be expanded to its optimal potential. I credit the Golandsky Institute with all of the optimism that I feel for my musical future!

Stanley G. Rockson, M.D.

Chief of Consultative Cardiology


Allan and Tina Neill Professor of Lymphatic Research and Medicine
 Director, Stanford Center for Lymphatic and Venous Disorders


Professor of Medicine | Stanford University School of Medicine 
Falk Cardiovascular Research Center | Stanford, CA 94305

 


 

I am a physician anesthesiologist and have been practicing medicine for nearly thirty years. I have been interested in the piano since early childhood. At my mother’s insistence, I began piano lessons around the age of five. I studied the piano through high school and into my first years of college, but I gave it up because of other academic interests and a lack of time. Years later I tried to get back into it, but despite my efforts, my playing did not improve. I heard about Taubman’s approach to the piano, and found a Taubman teacher. Things started to get better thereafter.

This approach is the first – at least that I’ve heard of – that considers human anatomy and physiology as part of the process of piano playing. The teaching is based on a knowledge of anatomy and physiology. When one thinks about it, it is obvious that this is how it should be, but the question must be stimulated in people’s minds before it becomes obvious. It has taken me two years to really “get the feel” for this information, to “peel away” my bad technical habits, and replace them with healthy movements. My playing has been affected dramatically, and I continually see improvement. Before studying this approach, my playing did not improve, and although I felt the need to change what I was doing, I did not know what or how to change. Now when I practice, I can isolate problem areas and employ the necessary techniques to make the passages work.

This work has allowed me to diagnose problems and figure out solutions. Just this morning, by way of example, I shared with my teacher how I had analyzed a problem I’d had in playing octaves, and had been able to find the solution myself.

The intensive summer program offered by the Institute is, I think, one of the greatest experiences someone interested in the piano could have anywhere. Each time I attend, I have a lot of fun, I am stimulated by ideas and discussion, and I meet a lot of wonderful people. The concerts in the evening are outstanding – it’s almost too exciting to leave.

Impressive results with the Taubman approach in relieving and preventing injuries and also facilitating greater accomplishment at the piano appears to me to be a gross understatement.

Jerry Titel, M.D. (Marion, New York)

 


 

The following is an excerpt from a federally funded study performed by Dr. William A. Pereira in 1995:

Biomechanical Differences in Playing Styles Among Pianists at the Dorothy Taubman Institute of Piano

Cumulative trauma disorders are the number one specific occupational health and safety problem in the United States, according to National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The incidence of occupational CTD's has reached epidemic proportions, currently accounting for over 60% of all reported industrial injuries. CTD's affect workers in a broad range of industries, affecting unskilled laborers and highly-trained professionals alike.

The rapid increase in computer use in the workplace has resulted in an equally rapid increase in the number of CTD cases resulting from their use, and computer use is expected to continue to grow at an exponential rate. Projections predict a veritable epidemic of computer-related CTD's by the year 2000 unless preventive measures are implemented. Few of the currently available preventive approaches have been well-documented.

The current study evaluates the Taubman Approach to piano technique, which in terms of its approach to CTD's is effectively a movement retraining approach. Dorothy Taubman is a distinguished New York piano teacher whose approach to teaching piano keyboard technique seems consonant with currently accepted physiologic, ergonomic, and biomechanical principles.

Mrs. Taubman developed her approach in order to help pianists play with more virtuosity by developing a coordinate technique; however, it became evident that a coordinate technique also can prevent or lead to reversal of injury. Not surprisingly, therefore, Mrs. Taubman and her faculty enjoy international reputations within musical circles for being able to help injured musicians, the majority of whom suffer from playing-induced CTD's.

While CTD among musicians is in itself a matter of significance, this study is undertaken primarily because of (a) the applicability of the biomechanics of piano keyboard technique to computer keyboard technique, and (b) the instrumentation available for force and impulse measurement in the piano, which does not yet exist for computer keyboards. Documentation of the efficacy of the Taubman Approach could represent a major breakthrough in the as yet unsuccessful effort to lower the incidence of CTD.

 


 

To Whom It May Concern:

My wife Paula, a classically trained pianist, playing the piano for 53 years, had received cortisone shots about three years ago and eventually surgery on both hands for three fingers from very painful and incapacitating injuries (trigger fingers) which apparently resulted from her playing. After the surgery, yet another finger was threatening. At that time she met a teacher at the Golandsky Institute who suggested she be evaluated by Edna Golandsky herself, a major proponent and master teacher of the Taubman approach. She professed that Edna might be helpful with her problem. What to do? Stop playing the piano, expect more surgery or see Edna?

Luckily, Paula chose to give the Taubman technique and Edna Golandsky a try. A momentous choice indeed, as she, Paula, is now playing some of the more demanding and technically difficult pieces of the solo piano repertoire. During this time, that finger that had been threatening has long since been silent and she even tells me excitedly that she can master, even more quickly, very difficult piano passages. There is no longer any discomfort in either hand or fingers.

Now, I'm not a motion specialist, hand specialist or pianist, but I am a physician with a strong scientific background in research and it makes perfect sense to me that any repetitive and demanding motions which can be effected with putting the least if any stress into those motions and still get the job done with even greater efficiency, is something of great value and importance. This appears to exactly be the case using the Taubman approach to piano playing with a properly certified teacher at the helm.

In fact one cannot help but wonder what else could be enhanced by applying this approach to other disciplines, what injuries could be prevented? For example could not those who spend a lot of time using other or similar repetitive motions such as typing at a computer, known to cause carpel tunnel syndrome etc. be benefited? It would seem so, or at least worth the effort to investigate.

Impressive results with the Taubman approach in relieving and preventing injuries and also facilitating greater accomplishment at the piano appears to me to be a gross understatement.

Leo Gorelkin, M.D.

 


 

I am a family doctor in practice in Joliet, a small town near Montreal. I have been playing the piano since the age of five. At the time of writing, I am 28 years old. I participated in piano competitions, but had to stop taking lessons when I entered medical school, although I have continued to play. I started taking lessons again two years ago; I have had more time to play since being in private practice as a doctor.

When I resumed lessons, it was with my childhood teacher. Since the last time I had taken lessons with her, as a child, she had been studying the Taubman approach and had changed her way of playing. She introduced me to the approach, saying that she thought it would help me to play better. She knew I wanted to play big pieces, and I was eager to improve my playing, and open to what she wanted to show me about the technique. I have found that it has helped me a lot as a pianist and has enabled me to play more difficult pieces than I could before, even when I was performing and playing in competitions. Since applying Taubman’s principles to my playing, arpeggios, for example, have become very easy for me (prior to this, they had always been difficult), and the quality of my sound has improved greatly.

Attending the Institute’s Summer Symposium, I discovered that a lot of people came because they were injured. I hadn’t realized that the Taubman approach could be used to cure playing-related injuries. As a doctor, this was very interesting to me. Many musicians’ injuries are caused by repetitive movements in uncomfortable positions. The traditional medical approach is to relieve the pain with painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy and rest. Often stopping the problematic movement is enough to take care of the pain. But you can’t tell a musician to stop playing without destroying his life. Some other approach must be found, to ensure that the musician can continue to play, but without the physical problem.

I don’t know of any other approach that addresses the problem of pianists’ pain and injuries like the Taubman approach does. This is an approach that goes to the root of the matter: the problem movements that cause the injury. I have sent a lot of construction workers, and other laborers to occupational therapists to try to root out the problem movements when they do masonry work, for example. But until discovering the Taubman approach, I had never come across a physical therapist or occupational therapist for pianists. This work is a kind of physical therapy, because the focus is on correct alignment and healthy, coordinate movements that will not hurt you.

Karin Boisvert, M.D. (Joliet, Quebec, Canada)

 


 

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, specializing in diseases of the blood. I am also a keen amateur pianist and study at the School of Continuing Education at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). For 5 years I was a member of the Board of Overseers of the NEC. At present I am on the NEC Board of Visitors.

… Because of my other life as an amateur pianist, I am eager for opportunities to learn and improve my playing. More importantly, my responsibilities as past chairperson of the NEC medical liaison committee have whetted my interest in the medical issues facing pianists and other instrumentalists who are beset with so-called repetitive use injuries.

… I [have] talked to many individuals who had incapacitating use injuries and had not received any benefit from consultations with neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and those dealing in alternative approaches such as acupuncture. It is remarkable how many of these individuals had crushingly disappointing experiences with medical and para-medical specialists of various types but were cured of their injuries once they were trained in the Taubman technique. In some cases the responses were very rapid. In others a prolonged period of time was needed.

The underpinnings of the Taubman technique rest on remarkably simple but, to my mind, highly sound and rational applications of a thorough understanding of anatomy and neuromuscular physiology. Mrs. Taubman, with the remarkably able input of Edna Golandsky, has developed principles based on maximizing physiologically sound arm and hand position with a technical approach based on forearm rotation and arm movements that takes advantage of muscle tension. Any tension, even minimal, is incoordinate and causes fatigue which may progress to injury. These principles seem so simple and yet building a piano technique on them is, of course, a marriage between science and art, one that Mrs. Taubman and Edna Golandsky have mastered in a very impressive way. Even so-called “musical qualities” such as tone production, dynamics, shaping phrase lines are not left up to “inspiration” or “genius”, but are governed by specific principles of physical motion and timing.

Given the high frequency and dire impact of use injury among pianists, the Taubman techniques should be of benefit to the huge number of piano students and established pianists who at this point lack access to this program. Furthermore it seems eminently logical that the principles on which the Taubman technique is based could be readily applied to the training of other instrumentalists in the interests of tension-free technique and prevention of use injuries.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,

H. Franklin Bunn, M.D.

 


 

I went to Edna in September of 2010 at the suggestion of an old friend who is a Juilliard faculty member. The previous summer I had attempted to prepare two movements of a Brahms trio to participate in Apple Hill summer chamber music workshop, and I had run into difficulty with forearm pain. My friend insisted that if I wanted to progress to this level of playing and learn to play well without injuries, I really needed to go see Edna. She immediately put me at ease and gave me very specific guidance which transformed my playing over the course of the year. I had approached her looking for technical adjustment; I wound up with a deeply transformed relation to my instrument and a revived delight in playing. What a pleasure and gift to have the benefit of Edna’s unerring analytical mind, great attention to detail, fine musical and technical instincts, and lovely sense of humor.

This summer, I performed a Mendelssohn piano quartet – fast movement and all – with flourish and enjoyment. I am now pain-free, and the skills I’ve acquired over the past two years with Edna have allowed me to progress to a new level.

Renna Whittredge Pye, M.D.