Dorothy Taubman developed core principles, summarized below, that are the basis for a healthy and natural technique.
Correct alignment is fundamental to a well-coordinated and high functioning technique. The principle of coordinate motion is the cornerstone to the Taubman Approach. The fingers, hand and forearm must be properly connected and move together at all times for the pianist to play with efficiency and ease.
Correct seat height is a major factor that allows alignment and coordination to function properly.
Rotational and lateral forearm motions allow the fingers, hand and forearm to move as a unit and prevent fingers from isolating, curling and stretching. Fatigue, tension and pain are avoided and a technique emerges that is symptom free, fast and reliable.
In and out motions refer to movements into the black key area and out to the white key area. These movements prevent the curling and twisting that are the root cause of tension and pain.
Shaping motions are curvilinear motions by the hand and forearm over groups of notes, due to the different lengths of the fingers, changes in direction, fingering and more, that add to the feeling of naturalness, speed and ease. Shaping allows a person to sound musical without effort; without it passages tend to sound notey and static.
Tone production of every quality and dynamic range is a basic technical skill that all players need in order to be able to express their musical ideas reliably at any time. Contrary to conventional thinking, tone production can be taught like any other physical skill; it is a combination of weight and speed into the key. Paired with shaping, it gives playing two of the most basic and powerful elements for expressive playing.
Leaps. The Taubman Approach teaches the correct strategies to make leaps reliable, showing the motions that are involved in order to achieve this goal. Insecurity and endless practice without consistent results become a story of the past.
Fingering. The Approach explains and presents examples of good fingering that adheres to the laws of alignment and coordination. Awkward fingering needs to be forced, practiced endlessly, and is difficult to absorb. Conversely, the hand absorbs comfortable fingering very quickly and does not forget it. Good fingering helps best in conjunction with the other basic elements of technique.
Grouping. Dividing long lines of many notes into small clusters, according to certain categories, immediately makes long and complex music easy to play and remember. This works in all areas of life; for example, long lines of phone numbers are spaced in order to help us to remember them. It’s the same in playing.
Interdependence of the hands. Scientists have shown that multitasking doesn’t work; the brain cannot concentrate on several activities at the same time. This means that at the piano the hands have to feel and play as one entity. Even though we need to work in certain skills separately, to feel secure, the Approach shows how to enable the two hands to powerfully relate to each other when playing together, alternating with each other, playing with polyrhythms, passing from one hand to the next, and more.
Legato. Does legato always mean that fingers have to connect to each other? What happens when fingers have to jump over large distances and the composer still wants the phrase to sound legato? The Taubman Approach shows how to achieve a legato effect using tone production, shaping and pedaling and avoiding stretching, a major cause of tension and injury.
Octaves and chords. The Taubman Approach first shows how the hand can open to its maximum without stretching. Then, by learning to rebound from key to key with a free and aligned playing mechanism, keeping the wrist at the right height upon landing, and using gravity to reduce muscular effort, the pianist can play octaves and chords with clarity, ease and speed.