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Taubman Approach Proves to be Pivotal for LA-Based Jazz Pianist

September 17, 2017
In 2006, Nikos Syropoulos moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California’s prestigious Thornton School of Music majoring in jazz piano studies. He earned his bachelor’s degree from USC in 2010. Since then, Syropoulos has lived in LA working as a freelance musician, composer, and teacher. He works collaboratively with other musicians and branches out in other media including dance, theater, and film. Looking back, playing the piano has always been important. The Pennsylvania-born jazz musician explains, “It’s true, I’ve been playing the piano for as long as I can remember. I began with Suzuki lessons when I was four and played classical music until I was in high school.” Syropoulos attended the New World School of the Arts in Miami, and it was there that his interests turned to developing himself as a jazz musician. While his life’s course seemed set as a jazz musician in the City of Angels, Syropoulos faced the first of life-altering turning points. He recalls, “In my junior year in college, I began experiencing severe shooting pains in my forearms, hands, and fingers. I was practicing harder than ever at the time. Because the pain was something I’d never experienced before, I foolishly didn’t consider that it was associated with my piano technique. I tried everything; physical therapy, acupuncture, and even a form of electroshock, but nothing alleviated the pain.” Syropoulos stopped playing in the middle of his term with the assumption the pain would go away. This measure did not produce the intended result. In spite of the daily doses of ibuprofen combined with a regimen of stretching exercises and icing therapies, he was now experiencing pain in his daily activities. “What became even more troubling was the fact that even brushing my teeth and other basic activities were now painful.” His instructors at USC were sympathetic and accommodating in that they encouraged Syropoulos to take time away from the instrument. At the same time, they too were at a loss regarding the source of Syropoulos’ pain and were unable to provide relief to the situation. A Philadelphia Connection As Syropoulos struggled with playing related issues, his family took measures to help. “By this time, my parents were living in Philadelphia, and my mom started asking for advice from the musical community. My brother Alekos is a saxophone player, and his teacher remembered a jazz pianist who had experienced similar issues in his playing and cured his playing related injuries by applying the Taubman Approach.” The pianist, Tom Lawton, recommended his former teacher, Robert Durso. Syropoulos recalls, “I contacted Bob, and he recommended that we meet so he could assess the situation. I flew to Philadelphia over Presidents Day weekend during which time we had three or four lessons. I quickly learned that my technique was the source of my problems.” Encouraged by the immediate results he experienced in those few lessons, Syropoulos arranged to begin his work in the following summer. He says, “During those initial lessons over that

Studying the Taubman Approach – Do the Results Last?

September 28, 2016
You’ve heard of the Taubman Approach and it sounds great … and yet, you’re left to wonder: If I take this course of study on, what comes next? Will I have to study the Taubman work with no end in sight? Or, will I learn to sustain the results I achieve on my own? This blog is designed to provide answers to those very concerns and charts the results of a pianist who studied the Taubman Approach in two separate periods that included a 10-year course of study followed by a hiatus of seven years during which he discontinued his studies. This pianist resumed his studies for a two-year period after which he once again, stopped all piano instruction. The following demonstrates this pianist’s ability to sustain the results achieved after long hiatuses during which he undertook no piano instruction. Jason Chase began his piano studies with his grandmother at the age of eight and early on, he exhibited an ability to learn music quickly, coupled with a keen interest in the instrument. As happens in many cases, Jason was assigned technically advanced repertoire before having the requisite skills to perform them. This course of study resulted in a physical injury related to playing the piano. Jason’s family members became aware of the Taubman Approach through Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky, who in 1991, referred Jason to me for injury resolution and serious piano study. At the time, Jason was nine years old. Jason and I began our work together, which included a complete understanding and implementation/internalization of all the essential components of the Taubman work. This work took approximately three months to accomplish and after this initial phase was completed, we had resolved all of Jason’s piano related injuries. Jason continued his studies with me for a period of ten years. During that time, we applied the Taubman Approach to more musically and technically challenging repertoire. In time, Jason developed into a seasoned performer as evidenced by the fact that he won first prizes at both national and international piano competitions. Those competitions included The Kal Rudman/Cunningham Piano Company Competition, The Bartok/Kabalevsky International Piano Competition and The Meadowmount Piano Concerto Competition, among others. At the age of 19, Jason discontinued his studies to launch his graphic design business and seven years later, he resumed his piano studies with me for two years. He subsequently moved to California to pursue professional and personal interests. During these intervals away from piano study, Jason continued to practice and perform on his own. Back to the original questions: If I take this course of study on, what comes next? Will I have to study the Taubman work with no end in sight? Or, will I learn to sustain the results I achieve on my own? The simple answers are no, you don’t have to study with no end in sight and yes, you can learn to sustain the results you achieve on your own. Here in these videos, at the age of 35, Jason has
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