Patricia Franz

December 17th was a soggy, dreary day, but the few AMSF members who braved the rain were treated to a ray of sunshine. Thanks to Amy Kett, who hosted the event at her home, and to Patricia Franz, who led the workshop on “How to Keep Healthy as a Pianist.”

Ms. Franz is a Taubman Approach instructor from the Golandsky Institute, based in PA. The Golandsky Institute was founded by Edna Golandsky, a student of the late Dorothy Taubman, who developed core principles for a healthy natural technique, helping pianists overcome technical limitations and preventing injuries.

The workshop was designed to teach AMSF members proper techniques to keep pianists’ hands free from ailments caused by repetitive motions and improper hand mechanics. Ms. Franz first gave a lecture providing pointers, the basics of which include:

  • Sit at a height where elbows are level or slightly higher than the keys.
  • Sit slightly forward on the front part of the bench, able to move slightly forward, right, or left.
  • Shoulders and elbows relaxed.
  • Fingers not stretched, crowded, curled, or straight.
  • Wrist level or straight and never at an extreme angle.

After the lecture the audience took turns getting individual advice at the piano. This gave us the feel of the proper hand and body positions and movements at the piano. Some brought music and asked for tips on specific sections that give them pain or tire their hands. Others asked about fingering to make challenging passages doable. To me, the hands-on portion was the most beneficial part of the workshop — getting the feel for the right form.

By the time we finished, everyone was glad they attended. Some of the comments included:

“This was very good. She [Ms. Franz] knows what she is talking about!” Someone who has experienced trigger finger shared his new learnings with his piano teacher who plans to incorporate Taubman Approach techniques in his lessons. I have decided to consider changing the fingering of chords that require big stretches or acute angles or let go of some notes that can be held by the pedal.

“How to Keep Healthy as a Pianist” using the Taubman Approach was definitely practical!