in Bologna about the New
Approach to string instruments, based on Kato Havas's
texts, took place on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March, 2013, at the music
school of the Cultural Association "La
by Vladimiro Cantaluppi. This
too was a great opportunity, with participants coming from as far away
as S. Maria
di Leuca as well as from closer places. As usual, like in previous workshops, the atmosphere was very
you very much to the organizer and all the participants.
The workshop in
Bologna on the New Approach, as well as the previous ones, was open to everybody, especially
violinists and violists, to participants of all levels.
Each one introduced him/herself briefly, saying what they did and how
they got there.
This time we had 14 participants of different ages and backgrounds: 12 violinists and 2 violists, including 7 teachers of various schools and
one academy, 2 students
of the last year of conservatoire, someone who started as an adult and
played for fun and a participant who had never placed her hand on a
violin, but wanted to start.
This is always very useful, because everyone can verify, on themselves
and on others, the effect of small changes and the improvements that
these cause, like for example the elimination of tension in the thumbs
and in the left wrist, through the "giving
All participants had read one or more books or seen any of Kato Havas
videos, so they had questions about these, so we started talking about
the seminary just as Kato Havas has developed the New Approach over the
years and how she changed some aspects of it to make it more and more
simple and eliminate even the slightest position or even an idea that
could cause tensions.
The first violin (or
a participant who had never placed her hand on a violin enabled
everyone to see how, from the very first violin or viola lesson,
the student can produce a beautiful tone, instead of torturing himself
and others for
with horrible noises.
achieve this, it is necessary to explain the
concept of playing using the fundamental
can be found in the natural movements of our body and show how to apply
instead of force, to produce the sounds. Thus,
in the case of a beginner, it is possible to prevent the physical blocks, that is, the overall rigidity
that almost all players have which causes the bad sound.
In this case we put into practice, with a viola and without even a
shoulder rest, the "no violin/viola hold" and "no bow hold".
Explaining the fundamental
The bow rests on the string
The first, harmonious note, with the finger movement coming from the
In general, I saw that what almost all the participants to the
workshops, and musicians in general, share, is a more or less serious
fear (to put it mildly) of playing in front of someone other than
very benevolent friends or relatives.
This confirms how ahead of her time Kato Havas was when she wrote her book Stage fright (1973), when
no one talked about this nor about physical injuries, and its
importance in helping people to solve them.
Also on this occasion, we saw that the mere fact of eliminating physical blocks, by
establishing the "rhythmic pulse"
throughout the body and clapping, and singing
the music before playing helped a lot to eliminate anxiety. Also
playing the music after singing it, makes it flow much better and
improves the tone.
If then one learns to sing the note
names while playing, it will be possible to eliminate this
anxiety even more, because singing while playing is what coordinates all movements in one single
and keeps our mind busy with music, so that it becomes impossible to
think of other things that cause fear during a performance.
I repeat for the umpteenth time because it is so important and
In addition, we saw how important the use of "imagination"
is. This means becoming one with the scene of the music work, creating
a story to tell, "wearing the clothes", as an actor would, and "act out" the
story told by this music. All this and singing the music with the
rhythmic pulse before playing it and while playing it, completely
changes the result. Again, everybody could see and hear the "before"
and "after." We also dealt with several other aspects, for example, how
to study fast passages, how to eliminate the problems caused by string
crossings by eliminating them altogether, by practicing the "no string crossing" etc..
One participant had problems
because of severe pain in her jaw,
caused by the fact that she had been pressing her head very hard on the chin-rest to
hold the violin. She had managed to reduce the problem by playing
without shoulder-rest and thus pressing less. We saw that the remedy
for this is the "no violin hold" and how it is possible to play without
even resting our head on the chin-rest, to counter the habit of
To conclude the workshop, in a short time we put together and performed
for ourselves the first movement of Telemann's
concerto for four violins in G major. We first sang the piece
all together, each one singing his own part, clapping our hands to get
an idea of the music without being worried about the instrument's
technical aspects, then we played it. This way we put into practice
some aspects we had been talking about and closed the days happily with
Once again, having a mixed group of participants is very useful for all
involved, because everyone can see that he or she is not the only
person who has certain difficulties and that it's possible to do
something to eliminate them. The
application of the New Approach principles is good for everyone and at any level!
The participants of the workshop in Bologna in Piazzetta della pioggia
Click on the photo to enlarge it
principles are really simple, and when you understand them, they seem
fairly obvious: using the natural movements, not forced ones, and playing
with your head, not with your fingers, that is, do not take my words
with your mind controlling every single movement, not mechanically. Although
the principles are simple, you cannot change everything in a week, you
need a bit of patient work, very slow practice to apply
them fully, but you can learn them in a short time, much shorter than
already spent to learning to play.
the New Approach and Kató
Havas, with videos of a
See you on the next occasion!
Some comments from participants at the workshop in
What have you learned that you think you can apply?
The "no bow hold" (especially for the control of nerves
in public) and anyway everything very interesting. THANK YOU! I hope to
see you soon
VERTICAL BOW! It arrives on the violin from the 1st string then I rest/move onto the other strings. Thanks
I'VE LEARNED TO KEEP MY HEAD LIFTED!
It would be nice to apply more of the workshop, in some way, for example, by learning
all together a little melody on which to apply the concepts explained,
which are many and difficult!
- IT IMPROVES AND OPENS THE TONE
- it releases the tension, allows you to look
around, think, get into the music
Nice that everyone played something, it's
possible to learn many things also by watching others!
Making everything start from the inside, movements not from the periphery, where the movement seems to come from, but from their real sources, whether they
are the shoulder blades, the base of the fingers, etc..
By seeing the application of the principles laid down in the various
volumes, many things finally
were clarified to me.
The workshop was very interesting and useful. What I
found very important was the concept of no violin hold, particularly the concept of freeing my head and not
pressing it on the chin-rest. For me, being able to play applying these
principles will be very important from now on, considering the problems I
had and still have with my jaw. I also find that knowing and learning
that the movement comes from the stronger joints, i.e. from the shoulder and not from the fingers with regard to the bow, is fundamental, and likewise for the
left hand finger movement. For years I've been suffering from
tendonitis in my left hand
little finger (4th finger), until I met a
teacher (Alessandro Ferrari), who realized that my movement was wrong
and corrected it. With you, Monica, I had the confirmation of this
principle. I am very sorry that I have not learned these basic principles earlier, but it is never too late to know them and
pass them on.
I'd like to follow and participate in other workshops. Thanks again for everything and see you
I think the no bow hold is fundamental and so is its contact with the strings.
Musical imagination and practicing without the instrument are things
that I had already been working on and I'm glad I've heard others
talking about it.
The no violin hold seems impossible to me.
The workshop was
interesting and the mix of participants levels was wonderful. Maybe two days are few, or 13
participants are too many!
I was impressed by
the naturalness of the approach and the immediacy of the results that
can be obtained on the tone quality. I'll read the books again and
again and, why not, I'll try to apply everything you told and
demonstrated to us... from the no violin and no bow hold to
the power of imagination! And then, who knows, maybe I'll see you in
Oxford! Thank you for the enthusiasm you conveyed to us! See you soon
useful and very interesting, in general the subject of the softness of
the limbs, but even more that about the mobility of the
thumb based on the fingers used, without the constraint of a fixed
position. But also the use of the right thumb in the conduct of the bow
for a bigger tone.
A DREAM COME TRUE.
My approach with an instrument
that today you let
me touch with my hands.
Really, my heart jumped at the sound of these beautiful sounds.
I am committed to follow Kato's
music for me
is the sound that comes from the soul
and being able to convey to your listeners the joy of life through the
depths of music.
I hope you'll keep amazing, as you have done today and... I will
continue to listen to your concerts. A hug
The most interesting approach of this method is the idea of basically thinking about the music and the desire to
express your musical creativity, not from the technical side of the
hands but from the inside of
your body to the outside; but
if your body is stiff it becomes a barrier to the expression of your
I'll test these concepts on
myself so that I can pass
them on to my students.
I was able to focus on serious physical blockages in my playing, and I've realized that so
far all the exercises that I've been doing had little to do with music
but it was just mere technique.
The workshop seemed to me very well set up and for 2
days much has been said already!
Now it's up to me apply myself.
workshop helped me to understand more closely and concretely, what to
do to play without fear. In particular, what to do to have a beautiful
tone from the beginning.
It was a real illumination to understand that there is no violin and
no bow hold, and have a left hand always in motion
(searching for the sounds). Thanks for everything.
Come to the workshops on the New Approach by Kato Havas. Where? When?
You too can organize a
workshop, read here how to do
To learn more about the New Approach by Kato Havas:
Watch Kato Havas' workshop, with videos
causes and cures of physical injuries and anxiety
and viola books
Go from Workshop in
Bologna to Kató
Piazzetta della pioggia, near the premises of the workshop in
Bologna about the New Approach, in the historic centre of the city
The "giving hand" that "hugs",
wraps the neck, with a mobile thumb that goes toward the first and