After introducing the first article in my series about the Taubman approach, I received very varied responses. They were not only sent to this site, but also to a friend’s Facebook pages, and to some general websites that attract musicians, where I had posted the link to my series as well. The reactions ran the whole gamut, ranging from interested to enthusiastic to doubtful and even hostile.
At first glance, it may appear hard to comprehend some of the highly emotional reactions over something usually regarded as dry and unemotional as piano technique, but then this may very well indicate that there is more to the Taubman concept than meets the eye.
In this second article in the series I will therefore concentrate on bringing the essence of the Taubman approach to the foreground, and I will do so through quoting a range of testimonials by pianists of all calibers. They will speak out about the method and describe their personal experiences. For those who fully investigate it, there is no turning back after experiencing the benefits.
Deborah Cleaver, Golandsky Institute faculty member, has much to say about the Taubman approach. Following ten years of teaching and performing in Berlin, Germany, American pianist Cleaver was first a student and then a teaching assistant of famed pianist and pedagogue Leonard Shure at the New England Conservatory. She later moved to Portland, Oregon, and is now teaching piano at Reed College.
Deborah describes her experiences as follows: "As a pianist with small hands, I came to the Taubman studies to get help with octave and chord playing. However, I was immediately impressed and convinced by the logic and ease of the total approach, and decided to retrain. It has been a miracle to me to see my speed, accuracy, and facility improve exponentially, while, at the same time, my control of tone, phrasing, shaping, and expression was set free as never before… it even helps with memory. And all with no strain or fatigue."
My friend Howard Schreiber is a passionate amateur pianist who had studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music. He remembers Seymour Lipkin, his rather well known teacher and musician, as a very nice and musical man, who most certainly had the best intentions in helping Howard overcome his feelings of inadequacy as a pianist — yet to no avail.
Explaining his feelings at the time, he says: ”There was no sense of connection. I was tense at the piano; it was all up in the air and I was not allowing the natural free falling weight of my hands to be released into the keys. I recall being very natural as a child. It was later on that I imposed restrictions on my own technique. We need language to convey technique,” he states. “But in the end, it should trigger some physical response that makes it feel right. My teachers taught me to isolate fingers; my arm was frozen and not giving support behind each finger. I was pounding away, thinking that I was building muscles when really, I was just increasing tension and reinforcing bad habits, bringing me further away from a natural approach to the instrument, resulting in quitting.”