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Does the Taubman method work?
#2719106 03/05/18 02:48 PM
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I've had about four lessons with a new piano teacher. She is very good and has DMA in piano performance. I enjoy taking lessons from her. I play at an intermediate to advanced level (chopin etudes, ballades, etc).

However, unbeknownst to me when I started taking lessons with her, she is a proponent of the Taubman method. She flies to various cities to take lessons from specific Taubman teachers. In our lessons, she constantly refers to forearm rotation and insists that I rotate my forearm on every note that I play.

I am very skeptical of this approach. I have watched a lot of videos of concert pianists, and none of them rotate their forearms on every note that is played - even in slow passages where it would be easy to see. Most pianists seem to play mostly with their fingers and forearm weight.

To me, it seems much easier to play fast by moving fingers than rotating the forearm. You can try this on any passage at the piano. The forearm can only rotate so fast - and not fast enough to play a fast arpeggio, scale, etc. The Taubman people state that "microrotations" are still there when you're playing fast - sounds like total BS to me.

Am I missing something? Does anyone here actually believe in this method?

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719120 03/05/18 03:23 PM
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Rotate the forearm on every note? It sounds like madness.

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719124 03/05/18 03:27 PM
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It's always worth trying other teachers. I'd go through at least 1/2 a dozen before deciding. And there's no place for sentiment.

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
Iaroslav Vasiliev #2719127 03/05/18 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Rotate the forearm on every note? It sounds like madness.



My second teacher taught this. I moved on.

My current teacher, conservatory-trained in St. Petersburg, said almost exactly what Iaroslav said. I've been studying with her for several years now and I am making progress again.

My motto is that the three topics one does not raise in polite conversation are religion, politics, and forearm rotation.


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719133 03/05/18 03:44 PM
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In anything, you get proponents and disciples - and the dogmatic.

If they are incapable of adapting to others, and are not amenable to gentle persuasion, and you don't subscribe to their dogmas, go elsewhere.

The question is - was Taubman around when Liszt started the trend of composing stuff (like double octaves, strenuous chordal tremolos, long stretches at fff etc) that could cause RSI in the unsuspecting, and would Liszt himself have benefitted from her teachings? Where was she then? wink


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
ClsscLib #2719168 03/05/18 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
My motto is that the three topics one does not raise in polite conversation are religion, politics, and forearm rotation.


So very true! Forearm rotation has its place in your piano playing toolbox but it can't be everything. I'm sure there may also be a misreading or misunderstanding of what Taubman is really about.

Hard to say without having gone through it myself.

To the OP have you given it a benefit of a doubt and stuck with it for a while? Results speak louder than any theoretical/belief system.


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
Vid #2719173 03/05/18 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Vid
Results speak louder than any theoretical/belief system.


Absolutely. The Taubman method has a very strong track record of success in cases of repetitive stress injuries.

Rotation can be a lot faster in short bursts than reversing direction using the flexors and extensors. The trick is to use the flexors and extensors to pre-position the fingers so that rotation can then execute the move.

I've seen the videos, but never seen a real authorized Taubman teacher in person. They're very scarce, none here in LA.


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719182 03/05/18 05:30 PM
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tl;dr: I find Taubman rotation training incredibly useful in helping me keep good time and avoiding "mumbling" my notes. Via the training I learned a kinesthetic sensation that I can bring back even when my forearm is not visible rotating.

Caveats:

- This post is long and nit-picky; there is no other way to usefully talk about Taubman or any other piano technique.

- I do not think that anybody will be converted to Taubman from reading anything. You have to take the training.

- Taubman training is much more than rotation training.

- You can injure yourself by practicing stuff you read on the Internet.

I took Taubman lessons weekly for several years starting as a beginner late in life. Today I would classify myself as an intermediate player. I am also a mildly ocd engineer (user name checks out). In what follows I am not stating any sort of Taubman official catechism: this is just my experience and my conceptualization. I am not a Taubman evangelist: I am not suggesting that Taubman training would be useful for others, though it might :-)

Taubman recognizes two types of rotations: single rotations and double rotations. A single rotation is when one reverses directions: e.g., standard finger numbers, 2, 3, 2; 3 is a single rotation). A double rotation is when you keep the same direction: e.g., 1, 2, 3; 2 is a double rotation.

One cannot do single rotations for ever, one runs out of fingers, at most four in a row. One can do double rotations forever (depending on the piece and fingering, of course). At speed one can still see single rotations; double rotations dissapear (though some say that they are still there “underneath”, says Edna).

In my opinion the core of Taubman rotation training in single note passage work resides in moving together all fingers that can reasonably be moved together: you move up and down fingers that are not going to play. If you do not clench your forearm it will sympathetically rotate following you fingers.

For example: say you are going to play a five finger pattern (C, D, E, F, G) with fingers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Say you just played C. To get ready to play D, lift 2, 3, 4 and 5 together, then lower all of them together letting only 2 play the key.

Similarly, to play E, raise and lower 3, 4 and 5. To play F, raise and lower 4 and 5. To play G, lift 5 :-)

2, 3 and 4 are single rotations.

Say you are now going to play F, E, D, C starting from the G you just played. To play F, you lift and lower 1, 2, 3 and 4; only 4 plays. G was a double rotation. To play E, you can guess.

I find that I waste less mental and physical energy lifting all those fingers than when I try to only move the one finger that is going to play. My hand accumulates less tension. Most importantly, it also creates a sort of internal clock that helps keep even notes that one wants to play evenly. When I find myself “mumbling” my notes I go back to remembering the sensation that I learned practicing single and double rotations. At speed I see and feel only the single rotations; double rotations are “underneath” :-)


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719193 03/05/18 05:56 PM
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Matthay taught that the rotation is often subtle or "invisible."


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
WhoDwaldi #2719202 03/05/18 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
Matthay taught that the rotation is often subtle or "invisible."


Maybe rotation should be 'virtual' (as in virtual reality) or imagined, rather than actual? wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719237 03/05/18 10:22 PM
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I agree single rotation is very helpful but I don't get double rotation.

How do you use double rotation when you play fast scales?

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
Kenny Cheng #2719252 03/05/18 11:58 PM
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Say you are ascending with the right hand, IMO, single rotation is minimized/reduced to lifting and dropping all fingers to the right of the currently standing finger as you play until you run out of finger and must use the thumb. While doing this, make sure not to clench the forearm. Similarly when descending: lift all fingers to the left of the standing finger, etc.

The exaggerated initial training teaches you not to clench/tighten the forearm which micro-rotates passively in sympathy with the finger movement.

This probably sounds like gibberish. Ideally one should have a teacher.

(Clearly, I am not following my signature :-( )

Last edited by ocd; 03/05/18 11:59 PM.

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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
Kenny Cheng #2719263 03/06/18 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Kenny Cheng
I agree single rotation is very helpful but I don't get double rotation.

How do you use double rotation when you play fast scales?


In a very very minute amount joined together with the right amount of in and out, walking hand and arm, and shaping. Taubman starts with teaching rotation, but you can't get the desired result until everything is combined together in just the right amount. The result looks deceptively simple, but all these thing are at play and generally it isn't until one experiences it that they can actually perceive it.

The idea as I understand it behind a double rotation, which is no more than a single rotation with a preparatory motion tacked on at the beginning, is to always ensure the mechanism is at the most advantageous position before doing the latter rotation that gets you where your actually going. If you were to do entirely single rotations, you'd end up in a situation where the weight of the arm is too far balanced toward one side or the other. The double fixes this issue by having you move toward the opposite direction that your intending to go. This isn't necessary when going from the thumb to the 2nd finger or from the pinky to the 4th finger because in order to be properly balanced on those fingers, you'd already have rotated far enough in the other opposite direction. Obviously, this movement becomes very minimal to the point that it can't really be felt, but if it wasn't there you'd have the aforementioned problem of being off balance.

Is anyone likely to understand this by reading it: nope.

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719326 03/06/18 09:34 AM
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The Taubman method absolutely works, not just for RSI but for improving overall technique. But, it only works if you're willing to do it.

An important thing to remember is that Taubman was not at all trying to invent a new way of playing the piano. What she did was observe carefully and analyze the components of efficient movement so that they can be taught systematically.

It's absolutely true that you will not see the rotation at speed (even in slow playing) because once it is part of an integrated technique, the movement is very subtle. I have taken Taubman lessons for several years. To people watching me play, my hands just look easy at the piano.

The method is very powerful--I am constantly amazed at what can be taught. But as Taubman teachers are well aware, some of it is counter-intuitive. It may seem crazy to say you will learn to go faster by stopping on each note to engage forerarm rotation. Naturally enough, you think it will be an extra step and slow you down. But no. Once you learn it, the freedom, accuracy, and speed that you gain are addictive.

As others have said above, it's very hard to describe the rotation (and the rest of the elements of movement; rotation is just one component) in a way that will be comprehensible. You really have to experience it.

I would urge you to trust the teacher, at least provisionally, and give it a chance. But again, you do have to be willing to follow her instructions and see where they lead. That's what you're paying her for, and frankly I think you're pretty lucky to have this opportunity. Taubman teachers are not all that common. But you won't get anything out of it if you sit and listen in the lesson and then go back to doing whatever you want at home.



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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
jdw #2719337 03/06/18 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by jdw
To people watching me play, my hands just look easy at the piano.
Me too, and I've never been near a Taubman teacher! Gosh smile

Re: Does the Taubman method work?
jdw #2719342 03/06/18 10:28 AM
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As far as I know, the greatest pianists (at least, the ones I admire) in the world with the most economical and easy movements have never been taught by any Taubman teacher. And they have never had any lay-off from injuries despite the virtuosic rep they play.

And despite my small hands which means some ungodly stretches and arpeggiation in some of my favourite pieces (Rachmaninov et al), I'm been told quite often - at least once a month, in fact - that I make everything look easy at the piano. I credit that to my four non-Taubman teachers............ wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Does the Taubman method work?
asb37 #2719350 03/06/18 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by asb37
However, unbeknownst to me when I started taking lessons with her, she is a proponent of the Taubman method.


Asb37, where did you find this crypto-Taubmanite? If she's in the LA area, I'd be very interested.


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
bennevis #2719353 03/06/18 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
As far as I know, the greatest pianists (at least, the ones I admire) in the world with the most economical and easy movements have never been taught by any Taubman teacher. And they have never had any lay-off from injuries despite the virtuosic rep they play.

And despite my small hands which means some ungodly stretches and arpeggiation in some of my favourite pieces (Rachmaninov et al), I'm been told quite often - at least once a month, in fact - that I make everything look easy at the piano. I credit that to my four non-Taubman teachers............ wink


I'm sure that's true, but not really relevant to the question of whether this method is effective. My point about easy-looking hands is merely to say that Taubman-trained playing does not look different from anyone else's to the casual observer.

As I said, Taubman was not reinventing this wheel. She was analyzing the components of virtuoso technique and breaking them down for teaching purposes. I know people argue about whether the rotation is "really there" at speed. It almost doesn't matter, because the point is that learning to feel it and combine it with the other motions really does take people to new levels of ease.

Are there other ways to get there? Sure, since obviously people get to be virtuoso players without this study. (This is so obvious that I don't completely get why people keep needing to point it out. No one has said Taubman is the only path to healthy technique--including Taubman herself, as far as I know--and I've been to a number of Golandsky Institute workshops on the method.)

Is it a powerful tool for the rest of us, or for those who get injured in their attempts to excel? Absolutely!

Last edited by jdw; 03/06/18 11:13 AM.

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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
jdw #2719361 03/06/18 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by jdw


My point about easy-looking hands is merely to say that Taubman-trained playing does not look different from anyone else's to the casual observer.




I should say, not different from anyone else with a relatively healthy technique. You won't see the spiky or strained fingers you sometimes encounter. I have seen some advanced players whose fingers looked practically twisted into knots.


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Re: Does the Taubman method work?
bennevis #2719413 03/06/18 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
As far as I know, the greatest pianists (at least, the ones I admire) in the world with the most economical and easy movements have never been taught by any Taubman teacher. And they have never had any lay-off from injuries despite the virtuosic rep they play.


Yuja Wang: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/a...-debut-for-the-third-time-169280686.html

Lang Lang: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/...tar-pianist-lang-lang-have-call-it-quits

Glenn Gould: http://www.handoc.com/Documents/GOULD_Tubiana20001.pdf

Uchida: http://coolcleveland.com/2013/11/mitsuko-uchida-returns-to-play-beethoven-with-cleveorchestra/

Horowitz's shoulders were sore for days after he played the Tchaik as I remember. Rachmaninoff described a coming concert season as something to the effect of looking to be the most painful.

This doesn't directly refute your statement but it points out the reality that concert pianists, if they aren't economical and sensible concerning physical movements at the instrument, injury themselves.


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