Piano Teaching

Piano Teaching


I have been teaching piano for over 15 years. My students are both young people and adults, beginners and advanced. I work with students in developing long term goals to structure our lesson time. Thus each student’s work with me varies depending on their goals and interests. I have an extensive background in classical and jazz piano and am able to work with students toward a wide variety of goals. I will often incorporate a good deal of theory and ear training into lessons.

My teaching is informed by many things, including my 14 years of study with Robert Durso, a leading practitioner in the Taubman Approach to Coordinate Technique. I came to the Taubman Approach after developing a rather crippling case of tendonitis upon graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Dorothy Taubman, the founder of this approach, was the first to develop a scientific understanding of body movement that allows pianists to play virtuosically without pain. After yeas of retraining with Robert Durso I found that not only could I play without pain, but that I had achieved a level of technical fluency that far surpassed my former abilities, opening up vast new aspects of the piano to me.

Brendan Cooney, piano teacher

This influences my teaching in many ways. I am able to help students avoid all sorts of technical common pitfalls that can cripple a technique and make playing a lot harder than it should be. Students learn to sit at the correct bench height, to avoid sinking wrists, twisting and curling. I incorporate the Taubman work into my teaching to different degrees depending on the needs, attention span, and interests of my students. Even without a detailed retraining of a student, many basic Taubman concepts can be applied to make passages easier to play and increase a student’s coordination.

The Taubman work also influences how I teach practicing. Practicing is an art to itself, often not addressed by teachers. Often we are told “go home and practice this”. But what does it mean to practice? I give students very detailed instructions on how to practice. I find this makes practicing less stressful and nebulous and, in the long run, helps students become more self-reliant practicers.

Brendan Cooney, piano teacher

Though often associated with classical music, the Taubman Approach has influenced my jazz playing and teaching tremendously. In addition to helping jazz pianists avoid twisting, curling and other pitfalls that stymy their playing, the Taubman work has greatly influenced my approach to teaching improvisation by revealing how much of our physical intelligence is bound-up in the improvisatory process.

I have also worked with injured pianists in retraining their technique. Through the Golandsky Institute I am certified as a teacher of the Taubman Approach.