So how does the Taubman work relate to jazz pianists? Most people know that the Taubman Approach focuses on choreographing the movement behind the dots, whereas in improvisations these dots are being composed in the moment. Doesn’t that make planning ahead more difficult? While I do not play nor teach jazz (unfortunately!), I often work with jazz pianists, as the issues and choreography transfer across genres. In my experience, it does help to work on something notated, to give the experience of fluidity and smoothness that planning the choreography provides. Even the most spontaneous improvisor will have certain licks or patterns which she explores in the practice room, and thus an opportunity to organise the movement. Even if this exact sequence does not appear in that night’s improvisation, healthy technical foundations have been laid which can be drawn upon in the future.
Then, it’s also important to see improvisation on the fly in the lesson, to witness what really happens in the heat of the moment. I often make the comparison of improvising to sight reading. In both cases, a skilled player is thinking, reacting, and planning a couple of seconds ahead. When the (new) technique is established enough, the healthy movements do hold even though the timeframes are instant. I remember after I first retrained that sight reading still caused a lot of discomfort, as I could not think far enough in advance to avoid awkward movement. Now, that the technique is established in my playing, it’s no longer an issue. The same can be true for improvising.
There are some great teachers within the Golandsky Institute who are also wonderful jazz performers (unlike me) such as Ron Stabinsky, and Barbara Banacos. Ron presents several technical workshops for jazz players at the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University each July, addressing the specific contexts and concerns of jazz players. You can read some testimonials by jazz pianists here.
There is help around for jazz pianists too.