Daily life meets piano technique

Sometimes my students are surprised to see me clean up strange items after the previous student’s lesson that don’t immediately appear to have anything to do with piano technique. Perhaps a chopping board and bits of carrot, a computer mouse, some scrap paper covered in large cursive scribbles.

Yet if someone is experiencing playing-related discomfort or pain, I have learned through observing Edna Golandsky at work to check for activities outside the playing which may be contributing to the unresolved problem. Typing, mouse use, electronic devices and handwriting are common culprits. Interestingly, even when the piano technique has been retrained and is working very well,
habitual incoordinate movement in our daily lives can leak into and poison a healthy piano technique.

It is also fascinating that what is learnt in one area is not necessarily applied to another. Even musicians with rigorous Taubman training might complain of pain in other activities, and are a little sheepish to discover that they were sitting too low while taking notes for their students, using their phone with isolated finger movements, or typing with their non-playing fingers left behind on the home row, even though they have learned to never do this at the piano. Similarly, if a Taubman-trained musician plays multiple instruments, it cannot be assumed that what was learned at the piano will automatically transfer to the violin or the flute.

In helping pianists overcome pain, I often ask students to keep a pain diary, and to note when they experience discomfort and what the activity was. Then, we work in the lessons to apply the fundamental Taubman principles to find a comfortable way of managing things. So far, I’ve worked with students on:
– typing
– smart phone use
– handwriting
– using a track pad on laptop
– mouse use
– using a sponge to clean
– stirring a pot
– chopping vegetables
– using scissors to chop herbs
– turning on a tap / faucet
– tying shoelaces
– adjusting a backpack to fit properly
– putting on a backpack
– how to hold a baby comfortably to avoid “Mummy thumb”
– how to pick up a baby comfortably
– ironing
– yoga positions such as downward facing dog
– mopping floors (I was hoping the student would want more practice mopping my floors, but unfortunately she learned very quickly ☺
– changing gears for a manual car
– how to hold a book while reading
– knitting

I would advise not to feel embarrassed by asking your Taubman teacher for help with activities away from the piano. The only thing to feel silly about is not asking!

Does anyone have any experiences of other non-playing related activities that they have worked on in their lessons?

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