Testimonials

With his help, I have greatly improved my agility, accuracy and control. Because of my newly improved technical security, my music making has developed a richer and deeper life. No longer do I need to spend hours ‘drilling’ difficult passages–I spend much more time wrestling with deeper artistic concerns without feeling I lack the means to express them.

Nathaniel LaNasa
Nathaniel LaNasa, MM, The Juilliard School; BM, Manhattan School of Music

Robert Durso is uniquely qualified to teach the Taubman Approach because of his mastery of the body of knowledge. Working with him is both physically and emotionally healthy. He is a rare piano teacher who does not value prestige and personal aggrandizement, but is solely focused on how best to serve his students.

Michael Brofman
Michael Brofman, Artistic Director, Brooklyn Art Song Society

Studying with Robert Durso has not only saved my pianistic career, but enabled me to reach and exceed my performance and teaching goals.

Brenna Berman
Brenna Berman, Associate Faculty, The Golandsky Institute

The work we did over the summer has continued to help streamline my practice; I learn pieces much more quickly and solidly than I was able to in the past and I feel more settled and at ease at the instrument than ever. My performances are much more solid as a result. Happily, I can say without a doubt that my technique has continued to improve substantially.

Michael Finlay
Michael Finlay, Pianist

Every week, he works with me on how to bring out the inherent genius in each piece I play. No matter how good or bad my playing is in a given week, he always has another layer of pianistic musicality to introduce to my interpretation and execution. It is his grasp of the pieces’ great subtleties that allows him to give my performances the breath of life.

Guy Katz
Guy Katz, 2nd Prize Winner, 2014 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition
Nathaniel LaNasa

Degree: MM, The Juilliard School; BM, Manhattan School of Music
Currently: Faculty, Third Street Music School Settlement; performing artist
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have worked with Bob since 2012.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I first came to Bob on the recommendation of a very talented colleague. Although she had suffered a debilitating injury from her piano practicing, after lessons with Bob her playing was transformed–effortless, powerful and free. She sounded even better than she had before she had developed pain and stiffness! Not having had an injury myself, and being fairly satisfied with my abilities at the instrument, I initially came to Bob for insights about how to teach my own students more effectively. I thought that if so many well-intentioned and obviously intelligent musicians can develop repetitive stress injuries from their playing, perhaps my own students were developing dangerous habits, without my knowing it.

Bob was happy to teach me the basic principles of a sound technique to help with my teaching practice. I quickly saw, however, that there was also another realm of expression and ease available to me through a more thoughtful approach to the piano. Having completed the initial technical reorganization, my current work with Bob focuses on resolving specific technical difficulties that arise in the music I study. With his help, I have greatly improved my agility, accuracy and control. Because of my newly improved technical security, my music making has developed a richer and deeper life. No longer do I need to spend hours ‘drilling’ difficult passages–I spend much more time wrestling with deeper artistic concerns without feeling I lack the means to express them.

Bob is now one of my closest friends. I will always be grateful for his wisdom, kindness and support. I recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone looking to expand their facility at the piano, anyone recovering from a piano-related injury, and simply looking for a fresh perspective on their work at the instrument.

Benjamin Payne

Degree: BM in Piano Performance – University of South Florida, MM in Piano Performance – Boston Conservatory
Currently: Music Faculty at Florida College in Tampa, FL

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? Since August, 2010

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I have gained a new understanding of the physical movements required to play the piano and an immensely logical and scientific approach to learning any piece of music. But more than that, I have gained a renewed hope that I didn’t waste half of my life pounding on this large black thing called a piano. It is difficult to express the feeling of a door opening back up that had been forced close.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I injured my middle two fingers of my right hand during my studies to the extent that they became tightened more than any of my other fingers even when I wasn’t playing. I also experienced numbness around my thumb in my right hand and sharp pain in my neck. The main problems, I now believe, stemmed from poor movement in thumb-crossing situations.

Why do you work with Robert Durso? I met Bob at the Golandsky Sympoisum in Summer 2010 and felt that he had a special gift for communicating the information and a good sense of humor. Even with only a few short instances of working with him there, I could tell that his knowledge and expertise in technique were on a level I had never previously encountered.

How would you describe his character? Bob is a master teacher. His knowledge of the technique is very deep and his pedagogy is precise and efficient. He knows the common pitfalls and understands the subtleties of communicating the Taubman method. He is also very calm and patient, which is so helpful, and I have been impressed with how much genuine enthusiasm he has when I “get it.” He is one of the only pianists I have known personally whose career acts as an influential model for my own.

Anything else you would like to add? For any serious pianist out there, I believe the Taubman approach is a must. It provides tools that help explain and solve any problem in piano technique and a conceptual model for ease and brilliance.

Michael Finlay

Degree: MM Peabody Institute, DMA Candidate University of Montreal

The work we did over the summer has continued to help streamline my practice; I learn pieces much more quickly and solidly than I was able to in the past and I feel more settled and at ease at the instrument than ever. My performances are much more solid as a result. Happily, I can say without a doubt that my technique has continued to improve substantially

Beth Berg Tomassetti

Degree: B.M., M.M. in Piano performance and pedagogy, Shenandoah and Northwestern Universities
Currently: Independent piano teacher, freelance accompanist, and adjunct instructor in piano, Christopher Newport University

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have studied with Bob Durso for 10 years

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? My playing has improved in so many ways after retraining with this approach: technically, musically, learning pieces quickly, performances are more solid and confident. The approach has helped me in my teaching to quickly analyze what aspects of the student’s playing are not working and why.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I was injured in 1987-89, and started the work in 1989. Tendonitis: pain in fingers, hands, forearms. I was performing without pain within one year.

Why do you work with Robert Durso? I continue to work with Bob because there are always things to learn to help improve my playing, which in turn affects my teaching. Over the years I have developed a more thorough understanding of the approach and predict I will continue to take lessons in the future.

How would you describe his character? Bob is professional, patient, has a great sense of humor, is extremely knowledgeable and presents concepts in a thorough, yet easy to understand, manner. He’s a great teacher and person!

Anything else you would like to add? I highly recommend the Taubman/Golandsky approach with Bob Durso as your teacher!

Sean Gower

Degree: Freshman at The Cincinnati Conservatory
My lessons with Robert Durso in the past 8 months have been the beginning of a real knowledge of how to play piano– of the “science” of piano. Before, playing was just something that I sat down and did, well enough, but without knowledge or a question as to what really makes it work, what’s “underneath,” what makes playing tick? This area was unknown to me, and apparently to many others too, because no one seemed to offer more technical advice then “move your arms more” “relax” “don’t be tight” etc. A knowledge of this whole, the mechanics, was unexplored. This makes me think of the website, “HowStuffWorks,” where any curious internet surfer can find good explanations for exactly what happens for things to work the way they do, ranging from the immune system to a car engine to gravity– everyday realities we can see without being aware of all that exists behind them, the system through which they work. Is playing piano as simple as sitting down and hitting keys, or is there much more physically to the activity, even if unseen? Much more, of which the correctness highly affects the outcome of the process? When I started studying with Bob about 8 months ago, after being diagnosed with focal dystonia, these questions emerged and became not only interesting but also important to my future. I saw that there really is a mechanism for playing that I hadn’t considered. It is not vague, but is specific, and can be shown and explained that way. Learning this and little by little correcting many problems that were part of my playing, the symptoms of my injury have gone away and my playing has become much better. I’m now returning to conservatory, which I had earlier left because I could’t play. I certainly plan to continue working with Bob, because he remains interested in and teaches according to these discoveries about what is really needed to play, what components make a technique “work.” This has really been an interesting process. And on top of a real pedagogical way of communicating this, of building the technique from the ground up (not just explaining it), of helping the student to understand instead of a “now we’ll see if your good enough for me” approach, Bob’s a great guy and a good teacher. It’s interesting that even the greatest beauty in music can only happen if the “engine” is working correctly, if the most modest, earthly components of piano playing are in superb order (what fragility!), and I look forward to continuing this learning as best as I am able.

Kathryn Goodson

Currently: Collaborative piano faculty, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Witnessing one lesson with Bob Durso was akin to watching a surgeon perform, except that in the Durso operation, the student was awake and thinking, making the session highly interactive. This particular lesson was about solving difficult technical passages, using principles of the Taubman Technique, in the last movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in C major, opus 2, no. 3. At each mention of a uncomfortable or awkward passage by the student, Bob had an immediate, precise and yet thoughtful suggestion. In every case, his solutions, if not immediately successful (most were), certainly led to a winning answer in one more try. It was amazing to watch the quick efficacy of the session, especially because the student’s perspective was definitely a vital part of the answer. Clearly Vivienne Fleischer, this highly advanced adult piano student, and Bob Durso have an established rapport and vocabulary. Still, the clarity and ease of the work, as well as his calm, pleasant personality, make it quite certain that Bob Durso would give terrific advice to pianists of any age or level. I would, whenever possible, support any class he’d give, whether to watch, send a student, or participate as a pianist myself.

Wynnpaul Varela

Currently: Language Instructor Ritsumeikan University Kinugasa Campus; Kyoto, Japan
I have recently had the great privilege of taking and observing lessons with Bob Durso at a summer piano course at Castelfranc, France. It is an experience I and the other participants are very likely to treasure for some time to come. I was hugely impressed not merely by the scope of his musical and technical knowledge but also by the humanity, generosity and clarity with which he could impart these things. He unwaveringly homed in on the very issues some of us had been wrestling with for years and yet allowed us the necessary room to question his suggestions, experiment and ultimately prove to ourselves that we were capable of doing so very much more, not so much by trying harder but by actually facing our musical demons and limitations in a logical, mature and often humorous manner. No matter what the level of student he taught, one would walk away inspired by a rich harvest of valuable insights. Bob is obviously no ordinary teacher – quite simply put he is a gem.

Don Glanden

Degree: Bachelor of Music: University of North Texas, Master of Music: Rutgers University
Currently: Head of Graduate Jazz Studies Piano Department Chair, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

In 2002 I went through an intensive nine-month retraining program with Bob after seven years of trying to resolve playing related discomfort. The discomfort was characterized by forearm and elbow soreness, and some tingling in the hand. By the time I began my work with Bob I had already researched my problem extensively, visited several doctors, done physical therapy, read numerous books, and taken lessons from several teachers with expertise in playing related injuries. The work with Bob not only provided a solution to my immediate problem but laid the foundation for an exciting new approach to playing the instrument. Subsequent to the retraining work, I have periodically returned for coaching sessions and frequently advise UArts students to attend Bob’s master classes and take lessons.

Bob Durso is a world-class educator. He’s something like a pedagogical “perfect storm” because he possesses an extraordinary combination of abilities. A leading authority on the Taubman Approach, his knowledge of piano-related physiology is deep and profound. This knowledge is combined with uncommon communication skills and a patient, kind, yet persistent temperament. His great success reflects his commitment to both artistic excellence and to his students.

Click for details about my experience with the Taubman Approach

Anders Nordenfelt

Degree: PhD in Physics, Gothenburgh University; Attended the College of Music in Malmö
The first time I met Robert Durso was at a piano summer course given by pianist/scholar Paul Roberts at Castelfranc in France. It soon became apparent to me that his methods of teaching were of a kind I had not previously encountered. What struck me was that his instructions unfailingly produced an immediate response in terms of better sound and the sensation of less physical effort. I realized that instead of being founded on an uncritical reference to tradition, or more or less superstitious assumptions, the instructions were based on a deep knowledge and understanding of the body kinematics in relation to the piano. Later I was introduced to the work of Dorothy Taubman and The Golandsky Institute and began a more thorough study together with Robert. Although I am still at the beginning stage, the work has already resulted in substantial improvements of my playing, and I continue to be amazed by the power and precision of the theory. My motivation to pursue these studies emanates not only from a desire to play the piano but also from a curiosity to explore the full potential of what I believe to be a truly admirable piece of scientific work. I hope that it will eventually get the recognition it deserves.

Elena Abend

Degree: Bachelor and Master degree from The Julliard School
Currently: Piano Faculty, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have only worked with Mr. Durso for a few sessions, (4 or 5 private sessions) but I have known him for years. However, in those few sessions I was able to learn and apply new concepts that helped me to begin playing again!
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? In the few sessions I did with Robert Durso, I gained a new perspective in my approach to the piano. I realized that by applying rotation movements I could still use some of my old technique, but suddenly things were much easier and effortless. I got rid of bad habits and in turn learned to apply the new concepts that Mr. Durso showed me. Most importantly the Taubman approach taught me how rotation is such a big part of everything we play. I feel that with very slow and careful work we can overcome even the most difficult obstacles if we know how to apply the correct movements. I also realized that isolation of certain muscle groups or fingers can cause injuries, I learned to use the bigger muscles rather than isolating the smaller groups of muscles.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I was diagnosed with Focal Dystonia in 2005. I went to Philadelphia to work with Mr. Durso in 2007 and through our work together and after observing me Mr. Durso believes that I was wrongly diagnosed. It all began with a weird sensation in my 4th and 5th fingers in my right hand and even though this sensation has not disappeared completely, I have learned to overcome it in many ways and play again. I sometimes still feel discomfort, but with very slow and careful practice I can usually overcome the obstacles. The sensation in my hand comes and goes, it is completely unpredictable.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I worked with Robert Durso because I believe he has great knowledge of the mechanics of playing the piano. I know he has helped many injured pianists including myself and I have much faith in his teachings! I always think about the things he taught me, the things he showed me and I have been able to keep on applying them to my own practice and teachings.
How would you describe his character? He is kind, generous, patient, encouraging and very optimistic. He has a gentle yet persistent way of getting results, and is always thrilled to see them happen! This gives the student a lot of confidence even if you are taking baby steps. He is funny and very smart and knows how to explain things very clearly. His aim is above all to help and make you (the student) feel you are going to get there. I felt very comfortable with him at all times and only wished I had more opportunities to work with him! I am very grateful that I had a chance to work with him when I did. I only hope that I can work with him again in the near future.
Anything else you would like to add? Thank you for helping me in so many ways!

Sakura Myers

Degree: Spelman College, College of Charleston (BA), Manhattan School of Music (MM)
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 8 months
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? A manner in which to play with the piano that feels as natural as breathing and tools that allow me to attack problematic passages with solutions … efficiency with my practice time.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? Yes, unfortunately. I had a swollen lateral tendon near my left elbow, inflammation of the extensor tendons in right forearm, tingling and at times numb fingertips in the thumb, index, and middle fingers on the right hand.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I work with Mr. Durso because he gives me feasible solutions to my endless list of physical issues. I enjoy his critical analysis of the musical and technical aspects of piano playing, and their interdependent relationship. He is the least possessive instructor I’ve had to date, which consequently fosters my artistic independence. I am free to complain about the slightest discomfort and for me, this is a huge relief. Mr. Durso is also sensitive to my limited means and does not allow that to hinder our work together.
How would you describe his character? He has endured my skepticism, resistance my incredulity and tardiness. (And he has done so with well tempered dignity.)
Anything else you would like to add? I wish I had come to you sooner, back in 2005. But thankfully, I’m here now. For anyone that has heard my playing since the beginning of our work together, I gladly thank and praise Mr. Durso for what he has helped me accomplish. I believe a great teacher is one who guides the students to teach themselves and he has shown me that I have what it takes.

Brenna Berman

Currently: M.A. in Piano Performance at Hunter College. Associate Faculty member of the Golandsky Institute
Degree: B.M. in Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have studied with Robert Durso for close to ten years.

Studying with Robert Durso has not only saved my pianistic career, but enabled me to reach and exceed my performance and teaching goals. When I came to Mr. Durso, I had been experiencing pain for almost ten years. My playing-related injuries had accumulated and included tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and ulnar nerve damage. My hands had become sluggish to respond, and I feared I was at the end of my piano playing career.

I had already spent four years studying with a music professor who had had some experience with Taubman. I was under the impression that I had received Taubman training, but didn’t possess the talent necessary to do it correctly. After this previous professor had essentially given up on me, I had hit rock bottom. Determined to give it one last chance, I sought out the best Taubman teacher I could find. I found that in Robert Durso. Within minutes of my first lesson with Robert Durso, I knew that I had previously never received proper Taubman training. It was clear that Mr. Durso had a true mastery of the work. Within a few months, I left my current Master’s program and moved across the country to study with him. It was the best decision of my life.

I am proud to say that I now perform regularly, and have achieved a life-long goal of performing at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Under Mr. Durso’s mentoring, I have learned to teach the Taubman work, and am now helping people in Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania find their true pianistic potential and overcome injuries. He has also inspired me to actively lecture and spread the wealth of knowledge that is the Taubman work. My previous injuries are now a distant memory, having subsided almost immediately after beginning my work with Mr. Durso.

I am always amazed at how consistently clear and concise Mr. Durso is, both when teaching and lecturing. In lessons, he is creative, patient and nurturing. He has fostered my development technically, musically, emotionally, and professionally. He brings out the best in my musicianship, without ever forcing his personal views. I am forever indebted to Robert Durso for all that he has given me.

Guy Katz

Degree: Biology major at the University of Maryland, College Park
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have been studying with Robert for about six years, since the age of 12.

When I came to work with Mr. Durso, I was an amateur pianist just beginning to develop my musical abilities, but already approaching a plateau in technical advancement. For years, my work with Robert focused on learning the details of this incredibly comprehensive technique and applying it to more and more challenging music. He was patient, informative, knowledgeable, and remarkably motivating throughout the process, and as a result, my abilities improved dramatically. But as I began to feel more comfortable with the technique, I was introduced to Robert’s more unique area of expertise: the music. Every week, he works with me on how to bring out the inherent genius in each piece I play. No matter how good or bad my playing is in a given week, he always has another layer of pianistic musicality to introduce to my interpretation and execution. It is his grasp of the pieces’ great subtleties that allows him to give my performances the breath of life. But beyond the irreplaceable wealth of knowledge Robert shares with me, it is his friendly, personable character that maintains an often overlooked, but essential, quality in piano lessons: the fun. While many others may see their lessons as chores that they must complete in order to improve, I see my piano lessons as enjoyable interactions.

Shari Weisz

Degree: Mannes College of Music
Currently: Independent Piano Teacher, Certified Taubman Instructor

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 3 years
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? The Taubman Approach has changed my entire thinking about playing the piano. It gave me answers to solving technical problems in passages that before wouldn’t be playable for me. It has given me the ability to become a better teacher, getting my students to play more musically and at a more advanced level.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I used to get bursitis in the back of my right shoulder, but that went away within a month of using the technique.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I think that Bob is very insightful and intelligent. He analyses problems until they are understood and solved.
How would you describe his character? Very ethical, quiet, introspective, polite and analytical.

Mike Brofman

Degree: BM, Northwestern University
Currently: Artistic Director, Brooklyn Art Song Society

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 3 Years
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I have gained a logical and coherent way to approach the art of playing based on scientific inquiry that avoids the shortcomings and pitfalls of the traditional ways of teaching piano.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I had tendonitis between my 4th and 5th fingers which made it so I couldn’t pick up a fork without crippling pain.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? Robert Durso is uniquely qualified to teach the Taubman Approach because of his mastery of the body of knowledge. Working with him is both physically and emotionally healthy.
How would you describe his character? Robert Durso is a rare piano teacher who does not value prestige and personal aggrandizement, but is solely focused on how best to serve his students.
Anything else you would like to add? I once played the Copland Variations twice in a row without any physical fatigue while 2 years previously, I couldn’t even pick up a fork without tearing up with pain.

Nikos Syropoulos

Degree: BM in Jazz Studies (Piano Performance) University of Southern California
Currently: Pianist, composer, arranger, private teacher of piano and improvisation

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I started lessons with him in the summer of 2009. During that summer I took lessons twice a week for a couple of months, and since then I have taken lessons whenever I am in the Philadelphia area.
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? So many things … most importantly, I can actually play the piano without pain now. When I first came to Bob, my arms and hands were in constant pain, but after a couple of intense months of study with him it subsided substantially and is now completely gone. The Taubman Approach has taught me that nothing at the piano should be difficult. I now have some of the skills to troubleshoot and eliminate my own technical difficulties, rather than hope that they will simply disappear with repetition and experience. And I know if I can’t fix something, Bob will be able to. Simply knowing that the limitations of my playing are diagnosable and treatable is remarkable, but to be able to eliminate them myself is what is truly empowering. I feel a totally new sense of confidence and comfort at the instrument now.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? Yes, I was injured when I came to Bob. My forearms and hands were in pain all the time, even when I wasn’t playing the piano, burning, feeling weak and fatigued. At first I assumed that some sort of external injury had caused the pain, but when I came to Bob he helped me realize that I was doing many things incorrectly at the piano, and that the way to get rid of the pain wasn’t to stop playing, but to play correctly.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I work with Bob because I have the utmost confidence in his abilities to produce the results I need at the piano. He has not only made it possible for me to play my instrument again, he has gotten me to play it better than I ever had before I was injured! Honestly, every time I meet with him I am in awe of what he leads me to accomplish in our lesson. I always leave with a very positive outlook on my life as a pianist. He is very inspiring.

How would you describe his character? He is very kind and always supportive. When I studied with him in the summer of 2009 I had been depressed for months because of the pain I was in. Working with him has been my therapy … he is very wise.
Anything else you would like to add? Hands down, Bob is the best piano teacher I’ve ever had.

Caleb Flick

Degree: BA Lebanon Valley College
Currently: Director of Music, First United Church of Christ, Reading, PA

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 3.5 years
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I originally came to the Taubman Work looking to gain greater technical facility at the keyboard. While that has certainly come to pass, through working with Bob, I have gained great insights into music making at the piano.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I had commonplace twisting and curling, but I had no injury per se.
How would you describe his character? Bob is endowed with extraordinary vision for his students coupled with pragmatic realism regarding concert preparation and a strong intuitive sense into precisely what each student needs with regards to the psychology of the student/teacher relationship.

I don’t think I have ever played the piano more than I did today…. six hours of practicing/learning rep, and four hour rehearsal… Thanks Robert Durso for giving me hands that won’t hurt!

Sylvia Karkus Furash

Degree: BM in Piano Performance, Grad. credits, NIU Piano Class
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 1986-2009
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? Musically, the Taubman principles allow for problem based learning; cause-effect. It gives one the confidence that issues can be solved cognitively–not by drill, grind and good fortune. The good fortune was in finding Robert Durso!
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? No.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? To solve problems, grow in musicianship.
How would you describe his character? Robert Durso is a person of incomparable humanity. He uses his deep perception and understanding of each student to draw forth their best musicianship. He has high standards for each person, drawing them closer to their goals. He is kind, supportive, patient beyond expectation, warm and yet totally professional.

Alex Ramirez

Degree: BM Piano Performance, The University of Texas, Austin
Currently: Private piano teacher, Director of Music, Church of the Brethren, Wyndmoor,PA

In the 19 years that I have worked with Robert Durso I have had incredible growth in my technique as well as in my musicianship. I have not only enjoyed the process of learning the principles of the Taubman approach but I am involved in the teacher training program of the Golandsky Institute where I am growing as a teacher of this work. I also perform regularly and I don’t believe that I could do it so freely and solidly without this work. I am truly grateful for the many hours of coaching and mentoring from such a great musician as Bob.

John Wickelgren

Degree: B.M., B.A., Oberlin College/Conservatory; M.M., D.M.A., Peabody Institute of Music.
As of June 2010, I am a participant in the teacher training program at the Golandsky Institute, and have had four lessons with Robert Durso. In that short time, I have seen dramatic improvement in my ability to minimize finger and arm motions, articulate Taubman principles effectively to myself and to students, and slowly infuse newly developed movements into music. I have been involved with the Taubman work for almost a decade, but yet in the past six months my one-on-one relationship with Robert Durso has injected me with extra energy and enthusiasm for this work that I have not had in quite a while. Robert Durso’s almost x-ray ability to see into my technique and persona continues to amaze and astonish me at every lesson. I look greatly forward to continued improvement and insight into this work and to what lies ahead in my technical and musical development.

Heather Craige

Degree: High School of Performing Arts, NYC, piano major. Currently: Psychoanalyst.
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? About 10 years
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? Complete relief from pain at the keyboard and a set of skills with which to analyze any musical problem.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I was so badly injured in high school that I give up my ambition to be a professional musician. I had pain in both arms and across my shoulders which would recur whenever I tried to play, even years after the original injury.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? I met Bob at one of the Taubman Institutes. I travel from North Carolina to work with him because I appreciate the clarity of his technical guidance, his ability to help me express musical ideas, and also his seriousness and personal warmth as a teacher.
How would you describe his character? Bob is an extremely attentive and patient teacher. He never shames the student for what they cannot do at the keyboard, but rather works tenaciously to uncover the source of each problem and to teach new skills. He is willing to work slowly, over many weeks and months, layering one skill over another until a physically coordinated and musically satisfying solution is found to a difficult passage.

Michael Mathews

Degree: Virginia Commonwealth University for piano performance
Currently: Accompanist, Church pianist, Music Producer

How long have you worked with Robert Durso?Roughly 4 months

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? Not only have I been able to cure my piano related injuries, but with Mr. Durso’s extensive knowledge of the approach, I am learning how to independently recognize my own technical pitfalls and I am developing the tools to prevent them from surfacing in my piano playing, therefore preventing future injuries. I have developed a sense of physical freedom at the instrument that I would never have been able to attain otherwise. When I play I also feel a sense of security, and this feeling translates to the tone production which has become solid and even. All the while a sense of effortlessness has emerged. The great part of this study is that aspects of the approach have trickled down to other aspects of life. Not just piano playing. Doing things such as typing on a keyboard or using my I-phone have all become extremely easy and pain free! A great deal of progress has been made in a short span of time and in under 2 months, I was already applying the approach to musical passages! I can honestly say that I am a completely different pianist than I was four months ago. I can’t even think of going back to how I played before because I know that the old habits will bring back all of my old injuries. I now depend on the Taubman approach for a pain free lifestyle and intend on making it a permanent part of my life long journey with the piano.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? Prior to working with Mr. Durso, I was experiencing sharp abrupt pains in my hands and forearms from the unpleasant pulling sensations in the hands. I also had experienced what I believed to be very early developments of carpal tunnel syndrome because I was feeling some minor numbness at night. After vigorously practicing a passage in-coordinately for a number of days the injuries got worse to a point that I could no longer play passages intelligently or without pain. Luckily I sought help before things got worse.

Why do you work with Robert Durso? I sought out Mr. Durso initially because reputation is very important to me and he is one of the main authorities on this work. The feedback I had read about him from different pianist and teachers was very positive. I now continue to work with Mr. Durso because he is consistently capable of achieving the desired results from me. With each lesson, my technique improves, and I walk out of his studio with new information to digest and apply to my technique. This allows for constant growth and improvement. Also, he has a great gift of observation and an ability to quickly and efficiently provide the very best solutions for any problems that may occur in the playing mechanism. I have learned more about piano technique from him in 4 months than I learned with years of study with other instructors and so-called experts on technique.

How would you describe his character? Mr. Durso is professional, dependable and very personable as well. I have observed that he is also very determined to get the correct result from a student. Therefore it shows that he is very honest with himself and the student to get those results.

Anything else you would like to add? In addition I would like to say I am very thankful for the body of knowledge known as the Taubman Approach and that if anyone plans on or is interested in learning the approach they should learn from a certified Taubman instructor such as Mr. Durso. Watching the Taubman tapes or reading about the approach will help up to a point but only live instruction from a master will truly solve your problems.

Deborah Cleaver

Degree: M.Mus. in piano performance, Boston University School of Music
Currently: Adjunct faculty: Reed College and Lewis and Clark College; Associate Faculty, Golandsky Institute

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? I have worked with Bob since 1997.

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? The Taubman Approach has given me greater speed, accuracy, tone control, ease of memory, and freedom of expression. Instead of feeling tension and fatigue at the keyboard, I now feel at ease and in control.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? No

Why do you work with Robert Durso? Robert Durso has a genius for conveying musical ideas and the physical means to accomplish them. He can quickly find the spark that illuminates the score and lead a student to accomplish feats he might never have thought possible. He is remarkably articulate and able to clarify any issue, either musical or technical.

How would you describe his character?Robert Durso is a wonderful man, full of wit and charm, and dedicated to finding the best in every student. He is quite simply one of the world’s great human beings, and I am immensely fortunate to have him in my life. Anything else you would like to add? There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of some stupendously important concept, musical or technical, that I got from Bob.

Joseph Nicolosi

Degree: B.A. Music, Rutgers University

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 6 years

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I have gained an entirely new approach to playing piano. I studied as a child but only became seriously interested in classical in my late teens. I attempted difficult works on my own, but my progress quickly slowed. Every aspect of playing has been addressed with Bob and the Taubman approach, from body position to ease of finger movement to rhythmic timing.

Why do you work with Robert Durso? Aside from his quick wit and charm — his ability to take a true amateur such as I was and develop a technique from the ground up which provides me with the tools to play at a very high level.

How would you describe his character? Patient.

Anything else you would like to add? Working with Bob broke the repetitive nature of practicing. He has not just taught me how to play, but bestowed on me the ability to approach a piece in an efficient and effective manner on my own. These fundamental building blocks can be applied to any and all music at the piano.

Andrew King

Degree: BA Music, Bowdoin College; MM Piano Performance, Hartt School of Music.
Currently: Piano Faculty, Piano Instructor in Bloomfield, CT.

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 6 years
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I am now free from injury and able to play music I never thought I could play before. It has also revolutionized the way I teach as it provides much-needed structure and knowledge. My practicing is much more organized as a result and my performance level is much higher and more solid. The work has also revealed and continues to reveal multiple layers in the music and informs me as to how to express the details contained therein.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I had a ganglion cyst on my right wrist that forced me to stop playing. It was a source of much anguish and depression.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? Robert Durso was strongly recommended to me as a teacher from a mutual friend. I deeply respect his knowledge, patience, and commitment to teaching. When I first met him, I had all but ruled out a career in music. He knew I wanted it if I could get beyond my injury, and he led me onto the path.
How would you describe his character? Robert Durso’s incomparable dedication to the craft of music making is a constant source of inspiration. He is a man of great empathy, patience, and humility. Working with him always yields much-needed insights as he is extremely thorough. He possesses a fine sense of humor as well and maintains a refreshing optimism much needed in the field.

Stefanie Kowalski

Degree: MM Piano Accompanying, Eastman; BA (music major), Kalamazoo College (MI)
Currently: Staff accompanist, freelance work

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? 8 months.
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? I’ve gained an awareness of poor habits causing chronic pain, and a variety of tools to replace these with healthy, efficient motions. I hope to be able to play without pain and play professionally long-term, which is an option I’d thought was lost to me; the Taubman Approach is succeeding where other (medical/therapeutic) approaches have failed.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I had chronic pain in my right wrist, diagnosed as overuse (but, now I know was poor use), which migrated to my left shoulder, where it has remained for past 7 years despite not playing the piano (with continued computer use, etc.)
Why do you work with Robert Durso? Taubman Approach was introduced to me by Kendall Feeney in Spokane and she encouraged me to participate in Bob’s lectures/lessons in Portland, OR; as one of the preeminent master teachers of the technique, Bob is the best resource certainly for students on the (south) East Coast, where I currently reside (also see below!)
How would you describe his character? He is patient, thoughtful, focused, meticulous, empathetic, amiable, dedicated, receptive, perceptive, encouraging, engaging, genuine
Anything else you would like to add? Bob has an uncanny ability to uncover how the technique can fit the needs (work for the success and in the best interest) of the individual student, rather than trying to force the student to fit the technique, and to convey even the most intricate details in a way that translates successfully to the student’s mind and body. His expertise is well worth a 150(00)-mile commute!! 🙂

Jeff Nations

Degree: Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, North Carolina School of the Arts
Master of Arts in Teaching, The University of the Arts
Currently: Director of Music, First Baptist Church of Ardmore, PA

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? Since December of 1998: 12 years.
What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? Initially, the Taubman Approach enabled me to overcome my injury. I am able to play again with no pain or discomfort. This has been of tremendous practical value for my work. I have had numerous jobs as an accompanist over the years where I have had to play challenging scores while at the piano for hours each day. This has not been a problem for me. I have developed greater freedom and ease in my playing and have the tools necessary to tackle whatever problems I may come up against.

The Taubman Approach has revolutionized my teaching as well. I have greater insight into my own playing as well as that of my students. I am able to help them overcome their own limitations so that they can advance in ways that previously would not have been possible.
Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I lived with an injury for about a year prior to studying with Bob: tendonitis in both arms.
Why do you work with Robert Durso? Bob has helped me to solve issues in my playing which had eluded me for years . I have a much deeper insight into my playing and a greater understanding and grasp of the process of practicing efficiently. If a problem or issue arises as I am working on a piece, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw, as well as the tools to solve them. My playing continues to improve.

How would you describe his character?
Bob is a great person who treats his students with compassion and respect.

Stanley Fink

Degree: MM in Music Theory, Indiana University; BS in Piano, Indiana University
Currently: Music Director at Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Gibbsboro, NJ
How long have you worked with Robert Durso? Since 2011

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach?

The Taubman Approach has completely rehabilitated me from playing-related injury. The approach has increased my technical facility at the piano beyond what I thought I was capable of. My practicing is more efficient and my playing is more consistent than ever before. As a professional, I have days where I accompany for 8 or 10 hours and it is not physically tiring or strenuous. The Taubman Approach provides the only comprehensive explanation of piano technique that I have come across.

Studying the Taubman Approach rekindled the joy that I experienced when I fell in love with playing the piano many years ago, a joy that had been forgotten when I suffered from playing-related injury about five years ago. Playing the piano produces a good feeling. Improvement to my piano technique has facilitated greater expressiveness as well.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury?

About five years ago, I started to suffer from a playing-related injury. I gradually realized that my technique was deteriorating completely. Playing the piano for even a short period of time produced overwhelming pain in my forearms. The pain carried over into other activities that involved my hands as well, such as handwriting or using the computer. I would later learn that certain bad habits (isolating the fingers, twisting, stretching, etc.) were rampant in my piano technique and that many of my practicing habits were counterproductive.

When it became clear that playing the piano was producing further injury, I decided to reach out to a colleague who had also dealt with playing-related injury. She recommended that I go to her teacher, Robert Durso. it was challenging to rebuild my technique while I continued to work as a professional musician, but I persisted. Without the Taubman Approach, I would have likely walked away from my career as a professional musician.

Why do you work with Robert Durso?

I work with Robert Durso because he has many solutions for the technical problems that I face in my day-to-day life as a professional pianist. I bring a wide range of repertoire to my piano lessons- solo piano music, chamber music, opera scores, choral accompaniments, and works for organ. He is always able to provide information and instruction to assist me in meeting the technical demands of whatever piece I’m playing.

How would you describe his character?

Robert Durso is a first-rate teacher. He is professional, patient, kind, and well-spoken. He also takes great interest in his students’ professional development.

Rachel Bussey

Degree: BM piano performance, Northwestern University,
Currently: working towards Masters degree in piano performance, Indiana University, Bloomington. Piano student, private piano teacher.

How long have you worked with Robert Durso? About six months.

What have you gained from the Taubman Approach? My health, my self-esteem, and my purpose in life. Also, the ability to play the piano again.

Have you been injured and what was the nature of the injury? I had several kinds of injuries over about a five year period which began during my undergraduate studies and culminated in my being forced to leave graduate school unable to play enough to continue studying or obtain my degree. My symptoms included muscle pain and fatigue, weakness, numbness, tingling, and a temporary and complete loss of strength in one hand. I have been diagnosed with a pinched nerve, tendinitis, and an RSI, which is the medical term for “you’re doing something wrong, but I have no idea what it is or how to fix it.” In fact, I was experiencing chronic muscle pain due to trigger points, which are very small and painful muscle knots that form as the body’s defense mechanism against improper and potentially damaging use of the body. At the time I discovered the existence of trigger points, I had developed them in essentially every muscle in my forearms, upper arms, and shoulders, and also in my back and neck.

Why do you work with Robert Durso? Having suffered through school depite my injuries, I left one of the top music programs in the country with a mechanism so deteriorated I was unable to play the piano for more than a few minutes at a time without pain. It was not easy for me to accept that despite years of practice and hard work, after conscienciously assimilating all of the technical advice of my professors, and having undergone every medical treatment and therapy imaginable, I would have to leave school without my degree because I could no longer play. It was even harder for me to continue to hope that recovery was still possible for me and to gather the courage to start over and retrain from the beginning. But coming to study the Taubman approach with Robert Durso turned out to be the best decision of my life. Now, only six months later, I am playing passages from repertoire more clearly and evenly than ever before and with an effortlessness that I never imagined possible. It has been an exhilarating process of transformation, and I am confident that I will continue to learn and eventually attain a higher potential than I had previously thought possible.

How would you describe his character? He is very kind, patient, funny, enthusiastic, encouraging, detail-oriented, and extremely hard-working.

Anything else you would like to add? Mr. Durso is the most knowledgeable, skilled, patient, articulate, enthusiastic, supportive, and motivated teacher I have ever had the privilege to study with. He has dedicated himself to mastering the teaching of this remarkable body of knowledge as thoroughly as possible and I feel incredibly happy and fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him.
My studies with Mr. Durso have and will continue to change my life. Already, they have ended the misery and despair that I felt for so long and given me not just hope, but absolute confidence, that I have found the cure to my injuries and that I will continue to improve. As a result of my experience with playing-related injuries, I have become acutely aware of the extent of the physical and emotional suffering among music students and professional musicians today. As I searched everywhere for a solution, I resolved that if I were ever to discover it, I would make it my life’s work to share it with as many other students as possible. Mr. Durso is the most fantastic role model I can imagine for doing exactly that.