Short interview with Robert Durso

TM: Bob, we’re so looking forward to having you join us for a live-streamed broadcast from your studio in Philadelphia. It’s also great that you have been presenting day and weekend workshops in the US, and making them available online for those who can’t attend in person.  What preparation, if any, would you recommend for participants who may be new to the Taubman work to make the most of their first Taubman intensive?

Thank you for this question. I think that reading all you can on the site helps a great deal. There is also a posting of my Interview with Josh Wright  that outline’s some key points to the Taubman Approach and can help orient a person to what they will be experiencing.  Having an open mind helps a great deal and trying the many suggestions at a piano with a qualified Taubman Teacher is the best follow up.
TM: I know in your studio you teach across the whole gamut of experiences, from coaching competition prizewinners to guiding injured pianists through the retraining pianists. In recent years, you have taken on more young students, and teaching at the beginner and intermediate levels. What do you enjoy about teaching the Taubman Approach to kids?
Wow, this is getting interesting!  My work with young people is very exciting. It is there that I feel a true teacher finds out their own effectiveness. Balancing all the necessary elements of musicianship, artistry, competition and practice motivation while paying close attention to their overall development and love for music is enormously challenging. It helps that I really do like kids, they are so funny, so unscripted and as they say, ” Say the Darndest Things”,  brings a breath of fresh air to my work. Seeing them meet and very often exceed their own expectations does give my life!
I must say I was reluctant to start to teach younger students again after a 25-year hiatus because I didn’t want to become the ” competition” teacher. I feel that I have been able to change my views on this and use the process to have us both rise to the best of our potential. I have worked together with students of all levels from Artist Diploma, Doctorate, Master level to help them prepare for competitions. It is a motivator for me to work as hard as I can so they can have a positive experience. To date, I have had 70 plus First and Top Prize winners in National and International competitions. I am proud of that accomplishment.
TM: I love playing the piece you will be discussing, Sinding’s Rustle of Spring (Fruehlingsrauschen), as the musical effect is so much greater than the technical demands. One really feels like a full blown concert pianist, which is great fun. Could you recommend one or two other pieces at the intermediate level which you enjoy teaching for the same reason?
 I think this area is a necessary area for pianists that may have another fulltime job or the serious amateur. Attractive, not so hard to learn repertoire is good for the ears, the hands and the confidence of the player. It is never dumbing down for a cheap result because I ask for the best of themselves no matter what. This repertoire deserves the same attention more complex and serious music takes. That said I love Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, Grieg’s lyric pieces, Khachaturian’s Toccata, Paderewski’s Nocturne op. 16 is a gem and so many more! 
See Robert present along with many other presentations at the Taubman Workshop in Brisbane, Sat July 13. Register as an online participant and watch the videos after the event if cannot be there in person. Registrations close evening Fri July 12!

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