Check out my latest performance on YouTube! I am playing the first and second movements of Mozart's Piano Concerto in C Minor, K. 491.
I hope you all have been having a great summer! It has been a great summer for me, and one of the highlights this year, as always, was attending the Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium. The symposium was particularly exciting for me this year, as I had the opportunity to bring some of my students, too! I was thrilled to be invited to bring two of my students to the symposium to participate in the Pedagogy Clinic. Congratulations to my students, Andrew and Casey, who played in the clinic! They both did a fantastic job!
The Symposium is a weeklong event held at Princeton University every summer that offers the opportunity to study the Taubman Approach in-depth with the Golandsky Institute’s expert faculty. The symposium attracts piano students and teachers from all over the world who come to participate in the intensive week, which includes a variety of presentations and lectures, master classes, clinics, concerts, and private lessons.
Mary Moran, one of the co-founders of the Golandsky Institute, presents the Pedagogy Clinic each year. It works like a masterclass: students present technical skills and music they have been working on in their lessons and and receive feedback from Mary in front of an audience of teachers. This year, my student Casey, age 8, worked with Mary on the technical concept of balancing on each finger, one of the initial stages of Taubman training. My student Andrew, age 13, played Chopin’s Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28 No. 15. The clinic was a valuable learning experience and great performance opportunity for the kids, and I was so excited to give my students this opportunity. The clinic also gives Taubman teachers in the audience the rare chance to observe Mary’s teaching. For teachers studying how to teach the Taubman Approach, observing experienced Taubman teachers at work is one of the best tools to becoming a better teacher. Solutions to specific difficulties that come up teaching Taubman concepts with one student can often be applied with other students as well. To learn more about the Pedagogy Clinic, recordings will be available for purchase at the Golandsky Institute website.
While reflecting on my experience at the recent Golandsky Institute Workshop and the valuable insights I learned from the lectures there, I was reminded of two important ways in which the Taubman work differs from other technical schools or approaches.
First, due to the analytical nature of the Taubman Approach and its ability to break down the elements of a virtuoso technique into distinct categories, Taubman students are able to continuously and systematically develop their independent problem-solving ability with each challenge they encounter. The solution to every passage they solve fits into a larger context of how certain technical elements are applied, and therefore which elements to look for in similar passages, so that the Taubman student is able to create an ever-expanding knowledge bank regarding the specific applications of each technical element to different types of figurations.
John Bloomfield’s lecture on fingering and Mary Moran’s lecture on Albeniz’s Tango in D reflected this aspect of the Taubman work. Each lecture incorporated a number of examples of the specific application of the Taubman skills being discussed. They demonstrated not only how the elements function in each example, but also how the solution was reached and how each example is similar to or different from the others. For student teachers, like myself, this type of discussion not only broadens our understanding of how the technique functions, but also teaches us how to build a context for this knowledge—a skill we can then pass on to our own students.
Since studying the Taubman Approach, difficult passages I could never have considered attempting before are now accessible to me. This is due to the unique nature of the Taubman work: it is truly a problem-solving approach, providing a comprehensive framework that allows the teacher and student to analyze and apply all the coordinated movements necessary to play any given passage successfully. Once I realized the incredible extent and power of this work, I immediately became curious as to how to analyze many of the famously challenging passages in the piano repertoire. One reason I anxiously await the annual workshops presented by the Golandsky Institute in New York City each year is because they offer the opportunity to satisfy this intense curiosity, at least in part.
At the recent Golandsky Institute workshop held on April 24th, Edna Golandsky discussed one such passage. The second subject of Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 often causes advanced piano students difficulties (the excerpt Edna discussed runs from 2:21-2:33 in the recording below):
It was fascinating to hear Edna’s analysis. Her presentation included ways that the application of specific technical elements are either consistent or inconsistent with similar passages from other works, as well as a summary of the common difficulties students encounter.
Look out for Part Two of this post coming soon to learn more about the NYC Workshop and the Taubman Approach!
02 January 2015
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful start to 2015!
My year has gotten off to a fun start so far! In the first week of January, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as an accompanist in the Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition. I accompanied Petrina, age 9, a very gifted young pianist, who performed the Rondo All’ungharese from Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major. As Petrina’s accompanist, my job was to play a piano reduction of the orchestral score on a second piano, as is customary in concerto competitions. The first round of the competition was held at the Kimmel Center last Monday. It was very exciting for me to have the opportunity to participate in such a distinguished event and to play with such a talented young pianist!
The Greenfield competition is open to accomplished young musicians living or studying in the Philadelphia area, who compete for the prize of playing a concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The competition attracts exceptional young artists, and several past winners of the competition have gone on to successful international careers, including violinists Hilary Hahn and Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg, and pianists Andre Watts and Richard Goode.
04 August 2014
Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium 2014: Recap
I recently returned from the Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium at Princeton, where I spent an intense and amazing week immersed in the study of the Taubman Approach. Students and teachers come from across the U.S. and all over the world every summer to learn about the Taubman Approach from the Golandsky Institute faculty, who are the world’s foremost experts in the work. It is without a doubt my favorite week of the year, and this year was no exception!
It is always fun to spend time with other Taubman students and teachers. Many of us share a common bond of having struggled with injuries prior to discovering the Taubman Approach, and possess a shared enthusiasm for the work and a passion for passing it on to our students.
Symposium days were jam-packed with private lessons, technique clinics, and some very entertaining and informative lectures and master classes presented by the faculty. Lecture topics presented by Golandsky Institute co-founders John Bloomfield, Robert Durso, and Mary Moran included analysis of running passages in Mozart, Beethoven’s Sonata Appassionata, and selections of Chopin’s music preparatory to learning the Chopin Ballades.
My fellow participants in the professional training program and I also assembled for classes exploring pedagogical and theoretical aspects of the Taubman work through analysis of passages from the repertoire, once again led by the co-founders. These sessions are always one of the highlights of the week for me. The opportunity to learn about the Taubman Approach in depth from such eloquent, knowledgeable, and dedicated teachers is a truly inspiring experience.
Another highpoint of the Symposium each year is the Golandsky Institute International Piano Festival, a series of concerts that are open to the public and held in the evenings throughout the week. This year, the highlight of the festival was a piano concerto evening with the New Jersey Symphony. The program featured three concertos for solo piano and one rarely performed concerto for four pianos! Golandsky Institute faculty members Sean Duggan and Ilya Itin, with whom I had the privilege of studying at the Symposium this year, each played solo piano concerti. Two Golandsky Institute students, Nathan Grabow and Sakura Myers, then joined them to play the concerto for four pianos. The concert was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer! Check out the review here:
As always, I left the symposium already looking forward to next year! Only 340 days to go!
05 June 2014
My piano studio is now on Facebook! Please visit at http://www.facebook.com/rachelspianostudio