How the Golandsky Institute Trains Teachers

The pedagogy for the Taubman Approach involves more than learning how to apply the information to one’s own hands. An important initial observation is that we are all built the same — the same bones, muscles, ligaments and nervous system. In addition, the piano is governed by its own mechanical principles.

We do not, however, all end up with the same technical problems. For example, some people may come with a technique that involves too much relaxation, while others come with excessive tension. One person may have difficulties with a particular skill, while another person may find the same skill easy. In the first stages of learning, a person is given the information to help overcome problems related to his/her particular limitations. It is only after one has solved these technical problems and has internalized the information so that it begins to become automatic that one is ready to start teaching others.

Successful teaching demands that a teacher see the big picture, understand how to diagnose problems, implement solutions and know how to integrate the many various components of the technique and the music. It is also crucial to know how long to stay on a given track and when to move on.

The only way to develop the skills necessary to become an expert teacher is to learn by doing. For that reason, we have a system where each teacher can be mentored by taking his/her students to one of the teachers who has produced consistenly good results. The principles of the technique are logical and straight-forward, but the application is highly individual. A teacher needs to see many different problems in a variety of contexts in order to begin to develop true expertise.

The success of the mentoring approach has been dramatic. Once it was understood that the art of teaching could be taught, results became consistently better. Some people have more natural ability in this area than others; they identify problems more accurately and inculcate solutions more directly. However, we see over and over that with the right input from a more experienced teacher, most teachers can develop their own pedagogical skills to a much higher level.

The proof of this is in the results of the teaching. Students are learning faster and more thoroughly than ever before. With the right information from a teacher, skills can develop more predictably.

In a real sense, all teachers of the Taubman Approach are students too. We never stop refining our skills. The principles of the technique are clear, but we are constantly developing more insightful ways to describe them and help others understand them inside their own bodies. By having teachers with the most experience be available to help those who want to become experts, there is a way to nourish and train teachers at every level.

The teacher training Workshops are one of the mainstays of the mentoring system. The workshops take place several times a year in New York City, Philadelphia, and Berkeley. We teach students of our most experienced students in front of the group, and these students, in turn, teach the students of other teachers who are trying to boost the level of their own teaching. In addition, we present new developments and insights that facilitate the learning and teaching of the Taubman Approach.

The collaborative approach has proven beneficial to students and teachers alike. It might be thought that a naturally competitive spirit would undermine the process, but on the contrary, a sense of collegiality and community support has been the result. Every teacher knows that there is help around the corner if he/she comes to an impasse with a student. In fact, the only mistake a teacher can really make in the mentoring system is not to ask for help, which is the very thing that stops progress.

We are always happy to recommend experienced teachers for those looking for help on any level, whether it is to solve occasional passage problems, to address greater limitations, to correct serious problems, to improve in general or to gain greater insight into the Taubman Approach.

Many people exposed to the Taubman Approach have become excited by its possibilities and present themselves as Taubman teachers. They sometimes use the Taubman name in their biographical information and in the promotion of their workshops. While some may be gifted musicians, their results can be poor when they try to implement Taubman work without being thoroughly trained. In some cases, the results have been detrimental to the students. 

Occasionally, teachers with this type of limited background combine Taubman concepts with other pedagogical approaches and different types of body work. These may bear a superficial resemblance to Taubman work, but they are not recommended by the Golandsky Institute, because they fundamentally alter the nature of the Taubman Approach. 

The pedagogy of the Taubman Approach is highly specialized. Currently, successful instructors have rigorous, on-going training in order to be able to diagnose and solve problems effectively. 

The Institute will be happy to recommend qualified teachers or clinicians, as well as to offer an assessment of anyone who claims to be teaching the Taubman Approach.

“The [Taubman] movements are designed to put you in the optimum position for every note, which means that once you get past the mechanics, you have more control over the sound of every note.”

TOM LAWTON, Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts