A New Approach to violin
and string instruments

by Kató Havas

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A New Approach to violin is the title of the first book written by the violin player and teacher Kató Havas, first published in 1961, when nobody talked about physical injuries caused by playing an instrument. Nowadays everybody is well aware of this issue, there are even clinics for musicians' injuries.

It was published with a preface by Yehudi Menuhin saying:

It is a sad comment on man's perennial ignorance that the rare and the original are usually the obvious. Miss Havas is original in her approach to violin playing because she insists that violin technique must be reducible to basic motions involving more than just the fingertips. … It is also heartening and equally ‘original’ to find a kindred spirit who holds the whole body to be engaged, thus offering non resistance anywhere - only support - and who realizes that of all things - the state of continual balance, the equilibrium of all parts, fingers against thumb, arms against shoulder-blades, etc., is the object of all training…”

Yehudi Menuhin



What's written in Kató Havas books can be applied to both violin and viola playing.

The books and other teaching material by Kató Havas have been published over many years, since 1961 and they are still selling! Here below are the publication dates in chronological order:

- A new approach to violin playing, 1961;

- The twelve-lesson course, 1964;

- Stage fright - Causes and cures, 1973;

- the teaching DVD, 1989;

- videos of Kató Havas workshop, 2008.

By studying them in chronological order you'll notice some slight differences. As Kató Havas herself says in Stage fright, these changes in the terms used and in the indications, based on teaching experience, became necessary in order to simplify more and more, eliminate those terms, exercises, movements that cause physical and mental tensions.

Therefore each book/video is a more in-depth explanation of the previous ones, so it's highly advisable to read in this website the pages about the various books, then read all the books, watch the teaching DVD and the workshop videos available with subtitles.

If you have doubts on how to resolve various problems and so far you haven't found answers, I warmly recommend them to you!


Buy Kató Havas' books      Buy the teaching video - DVD


Indeed, the New Approach to violin (which applies to the viola too) proposes a way of playing based on the use of our body's natural and fundamental balances instead of the use of a lot of force and pressure that, sooner or later, will cause many physical problems and difficulties in playing.

So as when we walk all our body takes part in the movement and, in particular, our arms naturally move back and forward to keep the balance, similarly when playing there should be that same suppleness and naturality of movement, with the whole body elastic the contributes to the movements. On the contrary, in the great majority of cases, we focus on what is more evident as a movement (the left hand fingers and the right hand) ignoring all the rest.

A New Approach Book's Contents

When you read and use this book, bear in mind that some indications are slightly different from what is in Stage fright, written years later. Kató Havas herself in Stage fright explains the reason for this. One example is about the left hand. In The twelve lesson course she says that the wrist has to be straight, but in Stage fright she coined the expression the "giving hand", with the left wrist slightly bent, in a natural way, toward you. It's because she realised that some things needed to be changed, in order to eliminate even the possibility of the slightest tension.

Another example is about the expressions "violin hold" and "bow hold" mentioned in the previous books and the "no violin hold" and "no bow hold" mentioned in Stage fright.

So, if you notice differences, follow what's written in Stage fright. Apart form these details, the Twelve lesson course is a very useful book, because of the many practical exercises.

The book A new approach opens explaining the concept that balance is more powerful than force itself, analyzing what a good tone is, what is composed of, to get to illustrate how to achieve it, providing real explanations. Here are the chapters titles:

1) THE SEARCH OF THE TONE PRODUCTION

2) THE VIOLIN HOLD
    Shoulder rest
    The stance
    The violin hold
    The left arm position
    The left hand position

3) THE BOWING ARM

    The bow hold
    The thumb
    The upper arm, the elbow and the forearm
    The bow stroke and the bow change

4) THE TONE PRODUCTION

    Regular and irregular sound vibrations
    The fundamental note and its harmonics
    The tone quality
    The finger base joints
    Intonation
    The ear training
    The anticipation of the note
    The control and preparation of the finger base joints
    The fourth finger
    The string change

5) THE TONE PRODUCTION APPLIED TO SHIFTS AND DOUBLE STOPS

    The order of learning of positions
    The shift
    The shift with the same finger
    The shift to a different finger
    The intermediate notes
    The fourth position and higher positions
    Double stops

6) THE TONE PRODUCTION APPLIED TO STACCATO, DETACHÉ, MARTELÉ, ETC.

    The staccato
    The springing staccato (sautillé)
    Detaché
    Martelé
    The legato bowing

7) THE TEACHING OF TONE PRODUCTION

8) THE TONE PRODUCTION APPLIED TO SIGHT READING, MEMORIZING AND TO STAGE FRIGHT

    Memorizing
    Stage fright


Buy A New Approach to violin in English, German, Spanish or in Italian

Buy Kató Havas' teaching DVD

Organize a workshop on the New Approach

Read about other books by Kató Havas:

Stage fright
Causes and cures for physical and mental tensions caused by playing, that afflict the majority of players. How to eliminate them and play with more agility and pleasure (for listeners too)

The 12 lesson course in A New Approach to Violin Playing
The New Approach organised in 12 lessons, with practical exercises and pieces to play as a pupil-teacher duo. For beginners and advanced players as well.

The Violin and I
Kató Havas' autobiography, with the story of how the New Approach came to life and the correspondence, which went on for years, among readers on The Strad magazine

Buy A New Approach in English, German, Spanish or Italian

Buy Kató Havas' teaching DVD

Organize a workshop on the New Approach


You may want to read more books by Kató Havas, so here they are:

A new approach to violin playing
The first book published. It talks about playing using the natural, fundamental balances of the body, which prevent and eliminate physical tensions, tendonitis, stage fright

The 12 lesson course in A New Approach to violin playing
The New Approach organised in 12 lessons, with practical exercises and pieces to play as a pupil-teacher duo. For beginners and advanced players as well

Stage fright
Causes and cures for physical and mental tensions caused by playing, that afflict the majority of players. How to eliminate them and play with more agility and pleasure (for listeners too)

The violin and I
Kató Havas' autobiography, with the story of how the New Approach came to life and the correspondence, which went on for years, among readers on The Strad magazine

Book a twelve lesson course with me

Buy Kató Havas books
Buy the teaching DVD
Go to Kató Havas (with videos of a workshop)
Go to Violin and viola books
Go to Violin and viola teacher
Go to Home

Monica Cuneo helps violin & viola players play free from pain, injuries and stage fright

I help violin & viola players play freely, without pain, injuries and stage fright.
Click here to learn how

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