The Art of Rhythmic Expression
Recorded in 2004, Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium at Princeton University

This three-disc DVD set provides an in-depth perspective on rhythmic playing and highlights its role in artistic performance. Edna Golandsky builds on the fundamental principles of the Taubman Approach to show how the correct use of rhythm brings music to life and makes it more expressive. Enjoy the rhythmic aliveness of her demonstrations from Chopin’s Mazurka, Op. 17, No. 4 and Ballade in G minor, Op. 23; Mozart’s Sonata, K. 332; and Schubert’s Impromptus, Op. 90, Nos. 2 and 4.

Reviews of The Art of Rhythmic Expression videos:

The Golandsky Institute has recently released a three-DVD set by the piano doyenne Edna Golandsky, documenting masterclasses at Princeton University in 2004. The Art of Rhythmic Expression continues where the previous collection of ten VMS from the Taubman Institute ended, with Golandsky showing both expertise and warmth in her practical demonstrations. The production quality is first class, allowing us to see and understand Golandsky’s particular approach to movement across the instrument, as the forearm controls nuanced hand movements, creating curvilinear shapes and phrases.

The DVD collection includes discussion of anatomy and physiology in relation to playing the piano, and how to avoid injuries. Golandsky uses pieces from the classical repertoire to show that through shaping, tone production and the correct emphasis of beats, rhythmic vitality, flow and swing can be achieved. An accompanying booklet gives ample examples of the lectures. This set of DVDs is bound to deepen your understanding of the relationship between physical movement and rhythmic phrasing. Highly recommended.

Martin, David. “Piano Professional.” EPTA Magazine, April 2006: p. 32.

“At the beginning, there was rhythm”-Edna Golandsky

This set of three DVDs takes a serious look at rhythm and pulse as the underpinning for musical expression.

The Golandsky Institute was formed in 2003. In 2004, the Institute held its first Summer Symposium at Princeton University. These DVDs were recorded during the symposium before a live audience.

The first DVD starts with a lecture about rhythm and pulse. Although this part is somewhat interesting, the fun really begins with the careful and painstaking dissection of selected works, with explanations on the use of pulse and rhythm to enhance performance and better comprehend selected repertoire.

Edna Golandsky stays true to her mission throughout the series, carefully teaching the rhythmic underpinnings of Chopin’s Mazurka, Op. 17, No.4; Schubert’s Impromptu in A-flat, Op. 90, No.4; Schubert’s Impromptu in E-flat, Op. 90, No. 2; and Chopin’s Ballade, Op. 23.

Golandsky also stays faithful when discussing rhythm throughout the DVD series. Peripherally, she says music is about motion (rhythm), and to control motion you need to control the sound. She mentions other tapes that focus on technique and musicality.

The pieces presented came came alive to me in a whole new way through Golandsky’s explanations. The concepts presented can easily be transferred to other music. Most importantly, Golandsky based her ideas on the music, not on the “this is the way I do it, you should do it the same way” approach.

These DVDs are meant for the knowledgeable, mature piano student or teacher. Since these DVDs are the product of a live “performance,” there are obvious flaws in production. Sometimes it is difficult to hear what Golandsky is saying and there is an occasional background buzz in the recording. Closed captioning would have helped, so one could pay more attention to the music and less time on figuring out what is being said. I would also have preferred a more complete accompanying booklet. Not only were there misspellings, but I had to go online to find out if there were more series besides the “Discovery Series.” The DVDs are not indexed, which makes finding specific sections difficult and on the third DVD, I had trouble getting the first of the two volumes to play.

This said, these DVDs will become standard viewing for my graduate piano pedagogy classes, which will appreciate tangible ways for making a performance sound, as Golandsky puts it, “talented.”

Corda, Michelle. American Music Teacher, April/May 2006.

The Art of Rhythmic Expression is a three-D.V.D. set that features the inspired teaching of Edna Golandsky, a New York teacher and pianist who co-founded the Taubman Institute and was its artistic director for 26 years. In 2003 she and several others founded the Golandsky Institute to further the Taubman approach to piano technique.

Each D.V.D. begins with a short lecture, followed by demonstrations in which Golandsky illustrates her points playing excerpts from the standard repertoire, including Chopin, Schubert impromptus, and Mozart Sonata in F Major, K. 332. She also presents a masterclass on the Schubert Sonata in A Minor, Op. 143.

Golandsky says the foundation of artistic playing is the pulse, likening it to the human heartbeat; she discusses the characteristic differences between beats of the bar and how they shape musical phrases. Rhythmic expression, she says, depends on a pianist’s technique and understanding of sound production and shaping. In most of the presentation Golandsky plays short excerpts and analyzes the components that make the music come alive. The idea that all musical aspects are interconnected recurs throughout the D.V.D.s.

Golandsky often repeats phrases using incorrect movements that contribute to making rhythm static and lifeless. The screen shows four camera angles with views of the keyboard and hands from above and each side as well as a view of Golandsky from the audience. We found this helpful for seeing a three-dimensional view of her movements. The demonstrations are liberally filled with nuggets of wisdom, such as “Music timing goes beyond counting; counting is only the beginning” and “What we try to express has to go through the body.”

We liked Golandsky’s choice of repertoire, although it would have been useful to hear her thoughts on rhythmic expression from other style periods. Perhaps that will be forthcoming in the future. Some of the video editing is abrupt and occasionally startling, but does not detract from the quality of her message.

The Art of Rhythmic Expression is an informative and inspiring tool, presented in a convincing manner by an excellent teacher. It forced us to reexamine one of the most fundamental and often neglected aspects of artistic expression, the beat. We highly recommend it for teachers of all levels as well as advanced students.

Hiarry, Susan and Jancewicz, Peter. Clavier Magazine, May/June 2006: p. 43.

The Art of Rhythmic Expression is a three-DVD set featuring lectures given by Edna Golandsky at Princeton University in the summer of 2004. The lectures represent the next chapter in the presentation of the Taubman approach to piano performance. In a previously released 10-volume video set from the Taubman Institute, Golandsky presented the foundational principles of the Taubman approach and showed how well suited the recorded video medium is to the communication of principles that form a physiologically optimal technique.

The superb technical production quality of The Art of Rhythmic Expression has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the presentation and sets a high standard for visual clarity in an instructional video. Demonstrations at the piano are filmed from multiple camera angles, sometimes allowing the viewer to watch in split screen format from four different perspectives: right, left, above and close-up. Nuanced movement as the forearm moves the hand forward and slightly higher, creating the curvilinear shaping of phrases, is captured by the cameras, giving the viewer the best possible opportunity to observe each motion and to hear the musical result.

Professional jazz pianists and educators may be particularly interested in the focus on rhythm in the Golandsky lectures. In the hierarchy of important musical elements of a jazz performance, musicians routinely place “feel” at the top. The highest level of musical experience can occur when the music feels great, swings hard, has a deep groove, is heavily in the pocket, cooks or burns. The rhythmic complexity of jazz, with its endless subdivisions of the beat, polyrhythms, shifting accents, and dynamic nuance, makes rhythmic “feel” perhaps the most difficult aspect of the idiom to teach. The approach most often used is to have the student engage in saturation listening to develop an understanding of jazz rhythm through osmosis. This is an indispensable part of the process because it forms the concept and rhythmic intent of the improvising musician. However, it doesn’t address the issue of translating the intent into a musical result at the keyboard.

This is precisely the issue addressed by Golandsky. Indeed, the great accomplishment of the Taubman approach in general is the realization of musical intent through the most efficient physical motions. Using pieces from the classical repertoire, Golandsky demonstrates how rhythmic vitality, flow and swing can be achieved through shaping, tone production and the emphasis of beats, revealing how physical movements relate to the rhythmic construction of each phrase. The application of this information for jazz pianists seems evident. When transcribing a great jazz solo, musicians are often confronted with the difficulty of notating a melodic line. Note placement may range from on top of the beat to “laid back” (behind the beat), with ghosted notes and shifting accents in unpredictable places. This all adds to the momentum of the music and offers technical challenges for the pianist. The Art of Rhythmic Expression provides a greater understanding of how to use the playing mechanism (fingers, hands, and forearms) to more easily execute the rhythmic language of jazz, and to enliven the rhythmic foundation of piano playing in any idiom.

The Golandsky Institute has contributed an important and innovative work with the release of this three disc set. Edna Golandsky gives a fresh perspective on the development of rhythmic piano performance and continues to explore a new paradigm in piano pedagogy. Not to be overlooked is the enjoyment of hearing Golandsky perform extended excerpts from the musical examples provided with the DVDs. Her pianism is extraordinary…and she swings!

Glandon, Don. “Edna Golandsky: The Art of Rhythmic Expression.” All About Jazz, January 26, 2010 at 4:11pm.