Pianist Jarred Dunn shares his story of learning the Taubman Approach
Edna Golandsky's January 2017 Master Classes at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice represent what I hope will be many more events for the Golandsky Institute in Europe. Edna Golandsky’s teaching has transformed my playing and I know that others from Poland and around Europe will benefit from her teaching: namely, that playing with no symptoms or technical and musical limitations is not only possible, but also realistic.
The Taubman Approach revitalized my playing and teaching. The spark in this process was my contact with Dorothy Taubman, and the ensuing fascination she inspired. I then went to Edna Golandsky and have worked with her ever since. Dorothy Taubman was the first teacher I encountered whose ideas had me thinking, “I have imagined playing this way all along: why didn’t anyone tell me how to do it?” What convinces me about Taubman’s work is how exacting it is while remaining sensation-based: there are rich, vital descriptions of how one’s technique feels and looks when playing coordinately, while the movements the Taubman Approach engenders unify its theory with physical realizations. It is a combination of sense and description: the logical pedagogy one needs to self-diagnose and improve.
Before working with Dorothy Taubman my technique was a catastrophe. I searched for answers and was willing to try anything that sounded even remotely persuasive. I read every book I could find, I practiced every etude imaginable. I was moving steadily along the path that many conservatory pianists take: working diligently to achieve virtuoso technique (as the great pianists have), never knowing that every hour of misguided practice brought me closer to injury. I was in earnest, and the closer I felt I was getting, the more my hands ached. I was told I just needed some rest, and then to work harder. I was really “getting somewhere” spending countless hours practicing in ways which produced poor results, but I believed what I was told because I wanted it think I was achieving my goals. I knew nothing made sense, but did not know how to address the problem.
That is why it was astonishing when Mrs. Taubman fixed problems within five minutes that had been taught into my hands for years. I had innumerable questions during and after lessons, which I continue to receive answers for while studying with Edna Golandsky (on the recommendation of Veda Kaplinsky with whom I studied at Juilliard beforehand). Despite years of limitations and injury, the Taubman Approach restored my capabilities and expanded my concept of what is possible.
It never ceases to amaze me how unsafe students who do not study with this knowledge truly are: they can hurt themselves, or be hurt by their teachers, never knowing where problems came from until they are injured and have to re-train, which then takes up the majority of the important years that should be career development and concert playing. I was on the path to the same end before I found this work.
At this time in my career, I have calls for recitals, chamber music concerts, concerti, and play in competitions with programs I would never have dared to attempt before re-training. My former training was, as Taubman put it, “Utterly incomplete and backward in every possible way.” Whenever I judge in competitions and notice the same habits in young pianists, it reminds me of why I teach. The success of Taubman's work is undeniable, and while musicians are starting to accept it, doctors and medical specialists have known for years what Taubman was saying was, and is, completely true. Colleagues have asked me if this work is really that effective, since methods cannot ever be inherently complete, and I respond, “Don’t wait to find out if you need it that much."
Edna Golandsky, a marvel among piano teachers, is responsible for the continuation of Taubman’s work with the largest impact worldwide. As a graduate and postgraduate student of the Karol Szymanowski Academy in Katowice, I am excited to welcome Edna Golandsky into our Academy, for what I know will be a beneficial series of classes and workshops for our students and any guests who attend.
I welcome all inquiries about the upcoming 2017 Edna Golandsky Master Classes in Poland, and encourage everyone who is interested and able to participate!
- Jarred Dunn
Edna Golandsky presents a workshop in Poland, January 19-22, 2017.