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Violin and viola books

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There are many violin and viola books around (actually, mostly violin books). Here you'll find some books (I also translated them into Italian) that I think are very good. They are:

The principle explained in Kató Havas' books can be applied to violin and viola playing.

William Primrose's book is his autobiography. I translated it and published it. You can find Primrose's book in English. Kató Havas' books can be found in several languages. Although their titles refer to violin, their principles and practice apply to the viola as well and also to all string instruments. Indeed, they deal with how to use our body (and not only the fingers!), particularly all the upper part (shoulders, arms, back) to play in a natural way, to prevent or eliminate various physical injuries and emotional problems (there is also a teaching DVD on this) caused by an incorrect use of the body in playing and at the same time, facilitate the performance and make it more enjoyable for the performer. Well, who plays knows what the problems are, right?

That's the meaning of "New approach"; the violin is always referred to because Kató Havas is violinist and started with the violin (the first book, the New approach, was published in 1961!), but there are other people and books who apply this method to other instruments. I found them very useful and that's why I accepted to translate them when I was asked. If you have any doubts about how to solve some problems and so far you haven't found answers, I warmly recommend them to you!

Here you can see the original book cover and my Italian version cover. Soon you'll be able to read here a description of them. I've added a link to a website where you can buy them in several languages, since quite often people asked me where they could find them (especially the Italian ones).

Kató Havas e Monica Cuneo all'uscita del libro La paura del pubblico

With Kató Havas when the Italian version of the book
Stage fright was published

A new approach to violin playing

A new approach to violin playing
Kató Havas

This was the first book published in 1961, when nobody was talking about physical injuries caused by playing an instrument. Nowadays everybody is well aware of this issue, there are even clinics for musicians' injuries.

A new approach to violin playing, by Kató Havas

Here you can see the original book cover.

“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 realises 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

Here is the cover of the Italian version that I translated: Un nuovo approccio al violino

Un nuovo approccio al violino, di Kató Havas

To use the words of Kató Havas herself, “The aim of this approach is not so much the imparting of knowledge. The aim is rather the elimination of all existing obstacles, both physical and mental, so that through a relaxed control and co-ordination, the player may be able to release the full force of his musical imagination.”

Read more on A New Approach

Buy "A New Approach to violin" in English from Amazon UK

Buy "A New Approach to violin" in English from USA

or in German or Italian

Also check Kato Havas teaching DVD


Stage fright - Its causes and cures

Another book I translated with, again, a comment by Yehudi Menuhin.

Stage fright
Causes and cures
Kató Havas

“Dear Kató Havas, I would like to write you a second fan letter, as I believe I have already done so some years ago, to congratulate you on your book "Stage fright". It is the most realistic and practical approach imaginable. It stresses the real reasons and not the false ones... a book that should be worth its weight in gold to every student and many a performer.

Yehudi Menuhin

Stage fright - causes and cures

Stage fright - Menuhin's comment

It examines in detail the causes of all the fears most of players have, giving practical solutions to them:
These are the chapters:

I) A GENERAL SURVEY

1.THE SHAME ATTACHED TO STAGE FRIGHT
2.
THE SYMPTOMS OF STAGE FRIGHT
a) What is anxiety?
3.
ARTIST-AUDIENCE RELATIONSHIP

II) THE HUNGARIAN GYPSY VIOLINIST

III) THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF STAGE FRIGHT

1.THE FEAR OF DROPPING THE VIOLIN
2.
THE FEAR OF THE TREMBLING BOWING ARM
a) The strokes
3.THE FEAR OF BEING OUT OF TUNE
a) The fourth finger
4.THE FEAR OF HIGH POSITIONS AND SHIFTS
a) The high positions
b) Shifts

IV) THE MENTAL ASPECTS OF STAGE FRIGHT

1.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING LOUD ENOUGH
a) Hearing
b) Listening
2.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING FAST ENOUGH
3.
THE FEAR OF MEMORY LAPSE
4.
THE POWER OF WORDS
5.
THE POWER OF IMAGINATION

V) THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF STAGE FRIGHT

1.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH

VI) CONCLUSIONS

1.THE ART OF PRACTISING
2.SUGGESTIONS FOR EXAMINATIONS, AUDITIONS, COMPETITIONS, PERFORMANCES
3.
THE SALIENT POINTS IN PRACTISING


Buy "Stage fright" in English from Amazon UK

Buy "Stage fright" in English from USA

or in German or Italian

Read more on Stage fright

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

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

Also check Kato Havas teaching DVD

La paura del pubblico

Here is the cover and the frontispiece of the Italian version that I translated:
La paura del pubblico, with a dedication by Kató Havas

La paura del pubblico, di Kato Havas - Frontespizio con dedica



Walk on the North Side

Memories of a violist

Last but not least... The autobiography of William Primrose, "the first star of the viola"

Walk on the North Side
Memories of a violist
William Primrose

William Primrose (1904-1982) was the first international star with viola. Great virtuoso and fine interpreter, he played with the best musicians of his time, such as Toscanini, Heifetz, Kreisler, Piatigorsky, to name only a few. He caused the viola to be definitively recognised as a solo instrument with a neatly distinct personality than the violin's. Thanks to him, viola repertoire enriched with many works commissioned by himself or composed for him: the most famous ones are Bartók's Viola Concerto and Britten's Lachrymae.

A very lively account of Primrose life and career, his many interests (including chess and cricket playing, airplane piloting and more...), full of anecdotes. A very encouraging book for all players, a very interesting and enjoyable reading for any music lover. Find out why it has this strange title...

Here are the chapters:
a
The cover of Walk on the North Side

The North Side of the 57th Street
First years in Glasgow
As a student in London
Warming up
Ysaÿe
The London String Quartet
Richard Crooks and others
Conductors
Critics
Colleagues
Lionel Tertis and others
Plight
Legacy
Japan: Chrisantemum and Sakura





This is the cover of my Italian version (but now it's not available).

Cammina

Buy it in ENGLISH : Walk on the North Side - Memories of a violist

More books by William Primrose:
Violin and viola (Menuhin-Primrose)

Menuhin's book mainly on the violin, includes a chapter on the viola written by Primrose

Playing the Viola - Conversations with William Primrose
Very good book, in form of dialogue with one of his former pupils (David Dalton, now viola professor and curator of the PIVA - Primrose International Viola Archive). Very technical, with detailed information on how to practice, on fingerings, repertoire and much more.


By the way, I did these translations because I love translating. To me, translating and playing are similar in a way. The performer/translator is the medium to make something understandable to somebody who doesn't know the language (music too is a language): he/she has to understand what the author/composer meant to say, keep the style and then transform the idea from an idiom to another one, from written notes to your ears and your soul.

Read what's about translations


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