4 min read
I think I would have loved to have met F.M. Alexander.

Dorothy Taubman: I think I would have loved to have met F.M. Alexander.

Over the summer, I went to see a Taubman approach based pianist  because of the pain, Mrs. Alison Cheroff, who generously gave me a crash course on the main components of Taubmann.  Her biography is here.  I went to see her for a total of about 4 lessons in the time that I was in the area , thanks to a friend from camp that generously gave me rides. While Alexander Technique, at that point, had talked about specific posture.  I was told the Taubman would pinpoint specific passages in the piano repertoire.

 Things I Learned While Studying Taubman

1. You must have a good attitude.  

I was very frustrated that I didn’t seem to really understand the concepts, or rather, I didn’t really feel immediate pain relief.

2. Even if you don’t understand things during the lesson it is presented, you might be able to understand everything a few months later.

For me, this was huge.  As a pianist, a huge part of  my style of learning has been kinesthetic.  So while I may not have understood a concept kinesthetically when it was first introduced to me, I found myself eventually recognizing through sensation why a particularly movement was considered healthy.  The funny thing is that, I made this realization through the Alexander Technique idea of “non-doing” during practice sessions.

3. It’s good for the fingers, hands, and wrist to move together in one movement with the forearm.

Even if you are not a pianist, this is a great thing to think about as a typist. While this seems extremely unnatural at first, you realize eventually that you start moving with more ease.

I realized that this is supported by a body mapping idea Jennifer taught me about my hands.  Contrary to what a lot of people assume, the finger bones of your hand actually extend into your wrist, instead of stopping where your knuckles are.  Visualizing this helps the information make sense.

4. Learning Alexander Technique will meet Taubman in the middle.  

Based on the study of the primary control, I have a strong belief is that if you actively pursue the Alexander Technique’s main body directions about the neck and head relationship first, your fingers will learn to be used in the way they are naturally designed to be used.

Another thing to note is that Taubman technique can be extremely nit-picky.  I spent the majority of a couple piano lessons simply learning how to play one five finger pattern, and I apparently was doing it with a lot of “wrong mistakes.”  When I described the process to my piano teacher, she even said, “You could go crazy thinking about that.” It was true.  In the process of trying to endgain and become pain-free from my first try with Taubman, I was probably holding a lot of neck tension.  So make sure you have a great attitude and don’t get impatient.  It could be counterproductive.

What Such a Masterclass Would Look Like

1. While the Taubman teacher is lecturing on what to correct, it is best for the AT teacher to be doing some hands-on work.

As I mentioned before, trying to grasp those first concepts can be extremely challenging with Taubman and cause a student to go into what AT terms startle response.  This is the way  most people respond to stress.    On the other hand, having the AT teacher do hands-on work can help prevent the student from going into this unhelpful habit and maybe learn even quicker what the Taubman teacher is discussing.  This is because AT teachers are often great at triggering our kinesthetic awareness.

2. A Taubman teacher could suggest proper height guidelines while the AT teacher makes the student kinesthetically aware of what tension they were holding before the AT teacher did some hands-on work.  Students have clearer ideas about what is actually correct instead of simply just what feels good.

In AT class today, the idea of faulty sensory perception was discussed.  For example, some of us may feel there is nothing wrong with the bench height we are sitting on because we have been doing it for years.  If the Taubman teacher adjusts the bench height, the AT teacher can reinforce Taubman by applying pressure to the pianist’s legs and waist to make the pianist realize the excess tension produced by the previous height.

3. At the end of the Taubman masterclass session, the  student could be put in constructive rest.

I think this will relieve any kind of excess anxiety associated with trying to grasp several concepts at one time about the Taubman.

Edna Golandsky was one of Dorothy Taubman’s top students and started an institute to continue her teachings. To learn more about the Taubman approach, visit the Golandsky Institute website and subscribe to the Golandsky Institute and Edna Golandsky YouTube channels.

 The Spiritual Lesson In All This: Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 God sometimes doesn’t take us through a linear process in order to find a solution.

Here is an entire sermon series about Romans 8:28 from Desiring God.

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