Gilson Schachnik, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music

An Interview With Gilson Schachnik

What is your name and current position? Gilson Schachnik. Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music (Ear Training Department).

How did you hear about the Taubman work? I heard about it from Danilo Perez, with whom I was taking a few lessons at one time.

What is your reason for studying? Constant discomfort when playing; tendinitis; severe technical limitations (speed, articulation, sound).

What results have you experienced with Taubman teachers? Since I started doing this work with Bob Durso, a faculty member of the former Taubman Institute, I have...

TOM LAWTON, Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts

Tom Lawton: Portrait Of A Jazz Pianist

Interviewed by Vic Schermer (excerpt)

VS: Some time ago, you told me you were going to New England to study with a woman teacher who was to help you revise your piano technique.

TL: We’re talking about Dorothy Taubman. She has a two-week workshop every summer at Amherst College. I went there and then followed up with Bob Durso in Philly. I spent seven and a half years learning how to play the piano from scratch!

VS: Can you describe the difference...

Don Glanden, Professor, The University of the Arts

In the fall of 1995 I began to experience some discomfort related to my piano technique. This usually took the form of stiffness in my hand, occasional tingling, a sore area on the inside of my forearm and occasional soreness in the elbow. I saw several doctors, a physical therapist and three classical piano teachers who had expertise in piano-related injuries. I also built my own library of over thirty books, endless articles and videotapes about healthy piano technique. I’m thankful for all the help and insight this search yielded. I continued playing for the next seven years...

Bill Charlap

This is a method of tuning into the body's natural sense of alignment, a technique that helps musicians add strength as well as agility to their playing...More importantly, it allows pianists to play pain-free...It's a way of using the entire mechanism of the piano, not just isolation of the fingers. That opens the door for technical freedom, and that leads to musical freedom - you can't have one without the other. The even tone that results when the forearm, hand and fingers are connected allows for accents and idiomatic jazz articulations but frees me...

Danilo Perez

Before I met Edna I always had to warm up. Now I can sit at the piano and just go. I never get uncomfortable or tired. Even when I am away from the piano, when I come back I can play right away. I understand how to get every color be it singing, percussive or anything in between.

This education should be taught worldwide. It should be a part of every educational system from early on so pianists can develop to their utmost potential.

It makes playing the piano so easy.

It has...

Ruby Morgan

The following represents portions of a response to a letter in Clavier magaine, January 1999.

… For those unfamiliar with this neuro-muscular problem, it is particularly frustrating in two ways. Firstly, the condition is not necessarily painful, so it can progress quietly to a debilitating level. Secondly, the problem is primarily involuntary, so it is the most difficult of all arts medicine injuries to overcome. In addition, dystonia is a physical puzzle that medical research has not yet solved.

I worked with Edna Golandsky to overcome my specific problem, the control of the right index finger....

Rachel Morgan

Music, for as long as I can remember, has been the most important part of my life. I grew up listening to the recordings of Rubinstein, Horowitz and Gould and reading books by Loesser and Schonberg. Another constant companion was my physical discomfort in playing. I didn’t know it was supposed to be any other way. My teacher during high school advocated many of the ‘old school’ tenets including finger isolation and strengthening which I was later to discover were leading causes of injury.

At the conservatory level, I had the opportunity to...

Victor Dizon, MA

I was first introduced to Edna Golandsky and the Taubman work by a friend in the Philippines who had master classes with her. I was a year away from graduating with my Bachelor of Music degree and thus was preparing for my graduation recital. I was also in the process of applying for a Master’s program in the United States. My friend told me that if I was interested in doing my graduate studies in the U.S., I should try to get in touch with Edna to see about possibly studying with her. He showed me...

John Cozza

I was diagnosed with focal dystonia in 1990 after having earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance, as well as Solo Piano and Chamber Music Diplomas in Europe. After being told there was no “cure” or even effective therapy to deal with my condition, I spent the next ten years devising my own exercises and technical tricks (redistributing notes from right to left hand, leaving out problematic notes, etc.) that kept me going as a professional pianist. I maintained a full performing schedule, but was always uncomfortable and unsatisfied with my performances.<...

Barbara Banacos

The Power of Coordinate Movement

In December of 1996, my hands closed into fists as result of an injury called dystonia. Dystonia is considered by the medical profession to have no cure. At the time of the injury I was in my second year of college and practicing five to eight hours a day despite a lot of pain. Being under the assumption that pain was a part of becoming a musician, I never thought I was headed for any real trouble. As the symptoms of dystonia began to show, I felt that the more I practiced the...

Mary Ellen Haupert

Overcoming Dystonia

I suppose that I would describe myself as the ultimate control woman, one who spent a fair number of years as the maker of my own destiny. People that fall into this “driven” category manage to get a fair amount accomplished, but in my case, my ambition, paired with a faulty technique, was a recipe for disaster.

In the spring of 1994, I performed the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 with the LaCrosse Symphony, just six weeks after giving birth to my third child. I knew it wasn’t good timing, but...

Megan Coiley

So yesterday, I was in the middle of writing an essay when I stopped all of a sudden and ran to the piano, totally inspired, and began practicing these Scriabin preludes I’ve been learning. The end. …Big deal, right? Well, for me, it kind of is. Two years ago, that scenario would have been completely impossible. You see, two years ago, I had focal dystonia.        Dystonia is a condition in which the brain loses control over a specific part of the body. In pianists, this is usually caused by excessive...