How Taubman Technique

6 June 2017

How Taubman Technique can be applied to young beginners’ piano learning- using traditional materials Background information With hundreds of years of evolution in the study of elementary piano, nowadays materials of this sort have been widely available, perhaps even gone rampant. This article argues the effectiveness of solely relying on certain elementary piano methods to teach, without the incorporation of a more holistic approach to piano playing.

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The beneficiaries of the renowned Taubman approach to piano technique are mostly injured concert pianists, conservatory students, and piano teachers, people who lready have more or less a certain degree of piano proficiency. Since Taubman approach is so effective in helping intermediate and advance pianists, I would like to experiment the application of it to young beginning children’s piano lesson.

Seeing that systematic materials for young beginner based on Taubman’s approach are extremely limited, my goal is not only to incorporate part of Taubman’s ideas to the standard beginning teaching, but to suggest a way to make it an essential part of teaching, using existing beginning materials. This article will discuss how the Taubman Technique can be systematically taught, learned in young beginner’s lessons with traditional materials, using the Alfred’s Basic Piano Library lesson series as a model.

The need to incorporate a more holistic approach to beginning piano teaching There is a huge array of beginning piano materials- Hal Leonard, the Music Tree, Alfred’s Basic Piano Library, Piano Adventure and so on. The methodology each publishing company varies slightly. Hal Leonard Piano Student Piano Library starts with off- staff notation recognition, and the Music Tree starts with recognition of roups of two and three black notes. Most of the companies sell books introducing theory, lessons, and other activities at a sequence. For example, Hal Lenard has lesson books, technique books, theory books, ear training books, game books… tc. , and in the first page of lesson book, a chart is used to explain the sequence. None of the piano methods is perfect or complete; each has its own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses. Contrary to popular belief, a child doesn’t become great by going through the designated steps in a beginning lesson book. To know simple heory, history of music, and enjoy some fun piano games may be important for a 6- year-old beginner, but it’s not the most important thing to make a good pianist. A young beginner becomes great when his coordination with the instrument is properly developed.

We make motions to produce music, therefore, music and technique are inseparable, and technique is coordination. (Lister-Sink) The and young beginning students, it’s not so much as to pound the concepts on paper into their brains- the head knowledge, rather, it’s the connection between their body and the instrument they feel that sticks- the body knowledge. Without a deliberate emphasis on teaching in the physical aspect of playing, the teachers found the most popular piano method books insufficient to help the student reach his full potential.

That’s why there are so many people who quit after learning the piano for couple years, and so many advanced students, even those in the conservatories, suffer piano related injury. That makes me wonder, what can supplement my teaching with the Alfred’s Basic Piano Library materials, or more precisely, what makes the material stay with the students, how to ingrain the sense of playing to the students. I suppose it’s not about the methods, it’s about the truth in the mechanisms of piano playing.

Since it’s the people, human beings, who invented piano and developed its technique, the piano technique must be something that’s inherently natural, and there must be a set of principles that can solve any pianistic problems. Through couple lessons with Certified Taubman teachers and research, I found out there are governing principles that’s beyond the scope of existing materials in piano teaching. These principles need to be included in the very first lessons, regardless of what material used.

Why using the Taubman concept to teach Started in 1976 by Dorothy Taubman, a New York piano teacher, Taubman approach is a ground breaking analysis of the invisible motions that function underneath a virtuoso technique. Ms. Taubman and her analysis helped pianists overcome technical limitations as well as cure playing-related injuries. Before meeting Tauman, American pianist Leon Fleisher and professor of Peabody Institute of Music was forced to play with only one hand for many years due to playing related hand injuries.

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