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Taubman Techniques

About the Author

Website Review


This site seems aimed primarily at selling the author's services. The advice is mostly misguided. The author, Yuri Ziskin seems to have an understanding of the state of the mechanism required for coordinated technique but does not seem to understand how that state is achieved. The conclusions are therefore erroneous and the following quotes should be enough to disqualify the site as useful.

Note: This review deals only with the physical aspects of playing

Quote from the site:

"However, in reality, when you sit with relaxed arms and they are comfortably resting, apparently on the fingertips, one small yet extremely significant thing takes place. Not everything is really relaxed. The wrist is being elevated to share a horizontal line with the forearm but this somehow totally escaped our attention. So there was no complete rest after all. In order for the wrist to stay in that position there must be something to support it. Muscles are definitely involved. There isn’t anything else in our bodies that can fight gravity. This changes everything. If the entire arm were truly loose it would collapse, hands and fingers would slide lifelessly from the keys like a jellyfish. So in reality the wrist is elevated."

My comments:

This is correct up until the assertion that the wrist is elevated. I assume by elevated, the author means a static condition achieved by the muscles which extend the wrist (extensor carpi radialis and extensor carpi ulnaris). This is possible although not recommended. This would require that the forearm be held up using the flexors in the upper arm. Trying to release forearm weight from this state is very slow and useless for quick passage work. Trying to use just the hand weight would mean the forearm is statically flexed which even the author warns against and in most cases leads to fatigue and eventually pain in the arms and shoulders.

Quote from the site:

"What does that do to the distribution of arm weight to the fingertips? It takes away most of the forearm’s weight. You’d be surprised how much your forearm weighs. Try this experiment: instead of resting your arm on the keyboard put it on the kitchen scale. Be sure that the height level is the same as the keyboard. The moment you rest your fingers on the scale you will immediately realize that the weight is too small for being the weight of the forearm. The weight of the upper arm was never there in the first place. Remember that the elbow is totally loose. (Which is not always the case, but this is a typical situation.) This means that the upper arm is hanging like the clapper of a bell or a pendulum at rest. It is totally under the influence of gravity. Its weight would pull it straight down (not sideways) if it weren’t attached to the shoulder. And it has no effect on the weight which the fingertips distribute to the keys in all legato playing situations."

My comments:

This part is accurate mechanically and correctly asserts that the weight of the upper arm weight should not be transfered to the hands for this type of playing. The forearm weight on the kitchen scale should be significantly less than half the actual weight of the forearm due to two factors. The heavy side is hanging from the elbow and if the arm is properly aligned, some of the weight is supported by the forearm structure's resistance to supination. Actually the remaining weight rests comfortably down on the fingertips. A slight flexion of the wrist is required but due to the light weight and slight adjustments for finger length and key height, the flexion is never static. The fingers should be in a neutral naturally curved position whereby the structure supports the weight.

Quote from the site:

"So when we talk about ground technique, it is important to understand how the job of moving the keys is done. If the upper arm and forearm are not as involved in sound production as we used to think (assuming that I succeeded in convincing you), then the job of moving the keys is done by other regions of the arm that are the closest to the keys. They are: the hands, fingers and, because the finger muscles are located in the forearm area, they involve the participation, but not the weight, of the forearm. Understanding which tools you are going to use before you start a job is a huge deal no matter what profession you have in mind. It is just as important in piano playing. It is the beginning of everything and yet many, in my opinion, have distorted views of the process. Luckily for us, it’s the understanding of how it is done and not the execution that is distorted."

My comments:

Unfortunately, this conclusion is wrong. Forearm weight is necessary for two reasons. The fingers alone are not strong enough to repetitively overcome the inital resistance of the keys. Also, if you don't let go of the forearm weight, you need to hold it up. This causes tension which impedes free movement and eventually results in fatigue and pain in the arms and shoulders.

Created 2002-02-14 Last updated 2002-02-14