Kathy Malyj Santiago

“Taubman Technique” is not so much a piano technique as an explanation for one. There is no doubt in my mind that the typical TT explanation can lead certain pianists toward a really brilliant means of coordinated playing. However, it’s also seemed to me that the explanation we usually associate with “Taubman Technique” mystifies at least as frequently as it helps, and puts off more frequently than it attracts.

I have watched people lose motivation for practicing before they could access the brilliance of the approach. I’ve seen others tarry way too long without the results one would expect from so much devoted effort.  Most disappointingly, I’ve watched some of those people get dismissed as not particularly talented. This is particularly sad because the technique embedded in Taubman’s explanation has such potential to be spectacular. Contrary to these negative assessments, it seemed to me that these pianists should have been able to create amazing uses from TT, sooner rather than later.

I began to secretly wonder, as I watched all of this (and experienced a great deal of mystification myself!), if perhaps these “untalented” people might simply need a different explanation, as well as a different learning sequence, to help their hindered musicality to surface.

In spite of working with teachers from several of the prominent Taubman schooIs over the course of several decades, I also struggled for some time to grasp the technique from the explanation.  I did, however, enjoy elusive periods of deeply satisfying, lightning playing, quite early on. Because those were much too addicting to ignore,  I obstinately persisted–I had to have more. In fact, a taste here and there could never be enough. I wanted to understand TT so deeply that I could always count on those magical results!

Though those experiences of lightning were initially few and far between, I sought to make them less so, and in the course of all that work my desire to learn the technique for myself morphed into a profound interest in creating a truly effective means of instruction. I felt that such a means should

  • Make real and deep sense, so that people could practice with purpose.
  • Remain motivating until new movement patterns have stuck in procedural memory.
  • Be consonant with research about how people manage to permanently change themselves as a result of learning efforts.
  • Help people’s Inner Wild Creator come out to play!–which I believe is what we all ultimately wish for.

I came up with an explanation that my own body could understand, replicating the positive results over and over until things reliably worked.  I tested my skills on extremely difficult repertoire, and success!—I could extend my ideas into new situations! Lightning at my command!

I tried these explanations with students when other explanations didn’t seem to speak to them.  I was delighted to witness powerful aha moments that guided continued independent learning.

I have spent years imagining, looking for hints in various scientific disciplines, testing, conceptualizing and reconceptualizing. I have developed an ongoing relationship with the new world of scientifically validated ideas about how adults get information into long term memory. TTD comprises my ever-developing current solution to the problem of how to guide people toward playing the piano with joy and freedom. I hope you will join me.

Kathy Malyj Santiago, Ph.D