How does the Taubman Approach compare to the Alexander Technique?

There are quite a few commonalities between Alexander’s work and the Taubman Approach. Alexander and Taubman were innovators in insisting that one’s use is the source of one’s physical problems, and in advocating improved physical function as the only means of complete recovery. In both disciplines, overcoming injury is a side effect of improved use, requiring the full commitment of the student, and study with a skilled teacher. Many parallels can also be drawn with the fundamental principles of alignment, balance, and efficient, coordinate use of one’s body.

Neither Taubman nor Alexander had formal medical training, yet both were decades ahead of their time in challenging long-established attitudes held by performers, teachers, and the medical profession (see Gelb, 1994, p. 21; de Alcantara, 1997, p. 275).  As Alexander found, medical practitioners do not always “recognize the relationship between misdirection of use and that unsatisfactory standard of functioning which is always found in association with disease” (1931/2001, p. 88). Additionally, he recognised that a typical medical approach is diagnosing the problem, but not necessarily building healthy skills (1931/ 2001, p. 90). In this way, both Taubman and Alexander were unique in realising that it is insufficient to say what not to do; incoordinate patterns of movement need to be replaced with effective, healthy ones.

One key difference is that the Taubman Approach is absolutely specific to the requirements of playing the instrument and the requirements of the music. So for example, the Taubman Approach deals with how the fingers are able to move with ease, speed and power, how a singing tone is produced, how the hand can open to play chords. While the Alexander Technique may bring a musician to a certain point wherein their body will intuitively seek these precise details, it is not specific to the demands of playing the instrument.

The same is true for Feldenkrais, and other whole-body approaches.

Reference List:

Alexander, F. M. (1931/ 2001). The use of the self: Its conscious direction in relation to diagnosis functioning and the control of reaction (Rev. ed.). London: Orion.

de Alcantara, P. (1997). Indirect procedures: A musician’s guide to the Alexander technique. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Gelb, M. (1994). Body learning: An introduction to the Alexander technique (New ed.). London: Aurum Press.

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About golandsky
Edna Golandsky is the leading exponent of the Taubman Approach. She has earned wide acclaim throughout the United States and abroad for her extraordinary ability to solve technical problems and for her penetrating musical insight. She received both her bachelor of music and master of music degrees from the Juilliard School, following which she continued her studies with Dorothy Taubman. Performers and students from around the world come to study, coach, and consult with Ms. Golandsky. A pedagogue of international renown, she has a long-established reputation for the expert diagnosis and treatment of problems such as fatigue, pain, and serious injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, focal dystonia, thoracic outlet syndrome, tennis and golfer’s elbow, and ganglia. She has been a featured speaker at many music medicine conferences. She is also an adjunct professor of piano at the City University of New York (CUNY). Ms. Golandsky has lectured and conducted master classes at some of the most prestigious music institutions in the United States, including the Eastman School of Music, Yale University, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Oberlin Conservatory. Internationally, she has given seminars in Canada, Holland, Israel, Korea, Panama, and Turkey. In 2001 she was a guest lecturer at the European Piano Teachers’ Association in Oxford, England, and in July 2003 she conducted a symposium in Lecce, Italy. In August 2010, she gave a master class and judged in a piano competition at the Chatauqua Festival. She was a guest presenter at the World Piano Pedagogy Conference in 2003 and 2009 and was engaged to return in October 2010. In 2011 she was a guest presenter at the Music Teachers National Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Piano Teachers Congress of New York; and the Music Teachers Association of California. She gave week-long workshops at the Panama Jazz Festival at 2009 and 2010 and will return in 2012. For the past three years, Ms. Golandsky and violinist Sophie Till have been working on a detailed application of the Taubman principles for string players. An instructional book about beginning lessons in the Taubman Approach for violinists is slated to come out in the future. Ms. Golandsky’s application of the work for computer users has resulted in Healthy Typing, an instructional DVD. Edna Golandsky is the person with whom Dorothy Taubman worked most closely. In 1976 Ms. Golandsky conceived the idea of establishing an Institute where people could come together during the summer and pursue an intensive investigation of the Taubman Approach. She encouraged Mrs. Taubman to establish the Taubman Institute, which they ran together as co-founders. Mrs. Taubman was executive director and Ms. Golandsky served as artistic director. Almost from the beginning, Mrs. Taubman entrusted Ms. Golandsky with the planning and programming of the annual summer session. She gave daily lectures on the Taubman Approach and later conducted master classes as well. As the face of the Taubman Approach, Ms. Golandsky discusses each of its elements in a ten-volume video series. Mrs. Taubman has written, “I consider her the leading authority on the Taubman Approach to instrumental playing.”

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