Comments on Graeme Fitch: Forearm Rotation Part 2.

As this video has been attracting a lot of attention, I would like to offer comments from the perspective of a trained Taubman teacher.

While Graham Fitch did learn from someone who had had lessons with Dorothy Taubman, this person was not a certified Taubman teacher, and as often happens, critical details were lost in the process. In Mr Fitch’s defence, he does not claim to be a qualified Taubman teacher, nor does he claim to have studied with a qualified Taubman teacher. My concern is that the combination of mentioning the Taubman name, lessons, and using Taubman vocabulary may lead some people to believe that this video is representative of the Taubman work. A friend in the UK has told me that as a result of the interest surrounding this video, several people have asked her if they could talk about having Taubman lessons with him, and colleagues in Australia have also referred to him as a Taubman expert. To this end, I would like to clarify some of the differences in his demonstrations of forearm rotation in comparison to what is taught in the Taubman Approach.

From a Taubman perspective,  Graham’s thumb is too low throughout the video, and should not be hanging lower than the level of the keyboard. In his version of the C major scale, the fingers do not release correctly, and the in and out is absent. In the Taubman Approach, the thumb moves behind the 2nd finger in preparation for the cross, then behind the 3rd. The thumb can comfortably sit behind the 2nd finger, and behind the 3rd finger, but not behind the 4th finger. You can feel this even away from the piano, by tapping the thumb with the 2nd and 3rd fingers. This does not create tension during the scale, as he suggests, as the forearm adjusts laterally across. Taubman teachers do not advocate to “leave the thumb then rotate at the last moment”.

Pianists who have been trained in the Taubman Approach do not talk about “a double that morphs into a single”: Graham is  unsure on whether some of the rotations are singles are doubles. From 3-1  is definitely a single rotation. His fingers are curling in the repeated notes due to lack of ” in and out” and the necessary release of the fingers. In his C major invention with rotation there is also no “in and out”, which is vital in white key passages, so the fingers are still curled.  The rotation is again too large, and not integrated with shaping. In the retraining process, adding shaping  transforms the note-by-note wooden tone, which is sometimes a by-product of large rotational movement and early stages of retraining, into a musical line. Put plainly, this is not the Taubman work, and viewers must understand that the C major scale, invention, and repeated notes would be taught very differently by a Taubman teacher.

If you are interested in learning more about the Taubman Approach, please visit www.golandskyinstitute.org, the preeminent centre for teaching the Taubman Approach. If you are interested in learning, incorporating and minimising forearm rotation into your own playing (and this must be done before you can teach it well), you can also find a certified teacher through www.golandskyinstitute.org/teachers/find-a-teacher. 
 

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