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Workshop in San Ferdinando on the

New Approach to string instruments

How to play violin or viola without suffering from tendonitis, aches and pains or stage fright

Come to the workshops on the New Approach by Kato Havas. Where? When?

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The workshop in San Ferdinando, in Italy, near Reggio Calabria, based on the New Approach works for string players by Kató Havas took place from Thursday 19 to Sunday 22 July 2012, in the school of the the Cultural Association "Musica Insieme... e per tutti", ("Music together... and for everybody", organized by Chiara Stella Capria e Lorena Rulli. Also this one was a wonderful occasion, with participants who came from Trieste, Monza and from nearer towns. The atmosphere was very friendly (like at all previous workshops). Thanks a lot to the organizers and to all participants.

As usual, the workshop in San Ferdinando on the New Approach was open to everybody, in particular violinists and violists, since, as I always say, many principles of the New Approach can be applied also to other instruments and this time among participants, aged from 10 to 50, there were teachers and students of different levels: three violinists, two violists, two singers, a drums player, a girl who played the electric bass and two pianists.

Among the principles that all musicians can apply, it doesn't matter what instrument they play, the first and fundamental one is that of establishing the rhythmic pulse throughout their body, to release physical blockages, that is, the overall rigidity that almost everybody has, that often makes one literally forget to breath, thus remaining breathless. No wonder we then have problems playing freely!

This aspect of breath is particularly important for singers, it would seem an obvious fact, yet very many seem not aware of this. It was very enlightening to see how the elimination of tension in singers remarkably increases the quality and the power of the tone they produce with their voice, with no strain.

Singer at the Workshop in San FerdinandoThen, I repeat this for the umpteenth time because it's so  important, singing the note names while playing is the action that serves to coordinate all movements into one only and keeps the mind busy with music so that one cannot possibly think other thoughts that cause fear during the performance.
We applied the concept of playing "from inside outwards", which means with the movements that originate not from the fingers but from the centre of the person, from the shoulders, the exceptional importance of the use of imagination. This means becoming one with the situation of the  musical work, when it was written and why, in the composer's time, getting to know the composer as a person in order to better understand what he wanted to say through his music, tell a story. All this, combined with singing the piece with the rhythmic pulse before playing it, completely changes the way a person later plays it. Everybody saw personally and in others the effect, the "before" and "after". We also  talked about several other aspects, for example, how to practice fast passages, the "no string crossing" etc.

Two participants had problems because of serious pain, one of them in the back of the neck and shoulders, another one along the whole right arm that reflected in the whole right side of the body. We saw what was the cause of those aches and pains and how to eliminate it.

At the same time as our workshop there was also a course for singers run by the soprano Gabriella Morigi and on Saturday night we all together gave an open air concert. A very suggestive atmosphere created, in a piazza against the background of an ancient convent. In the previous days we had put together in a short time and then we performed the Brandenburg Concerto n.3 by Bach (with the parts of the missing cellos split here and there between me and the piano, where it was indispensable), Pachelbel's Canon in a special version realized for the occasion, with the bass line performed by the electric bass with piano and percussions, the first movement of the concerto by Telemann for two violas and orchestra and the singers performed their works.

This was a special occasion for the village of San Ferdinando, not used to this type of shows and the residents came little by little more numerous and seemed to appreciate.

For the participants of workshop in San Ferdinando it was an opportunity to put into practice what we had been talking about, preparing in a short time some works for the  concert, which also meant to be a quite informal situation, non terribly serious, which is very useful to eliminate stage fright. During the rehearsals one of the participants said she hadn't had so much fun in ages! A good result!

Once again, by having a mixed group of participants, everybody could see that the problems are more or less the same ones for almost all players and that the use of the New Approach principles benefits everyone and at all levels!

Concert in San Ferdinando
Concert at the end of the workshop in San Ferdinando in the Piazza del Convento

The New Approach concepts, as Kato Havas says, are incredibly simple and once they are understood they seem completely obvious: using the natural movements, not the forced ones, and playing with our head, not with our fingers. This doesn't mean that  become familiar in one week, it takes some time to be able to put them into practice completely, but they can be learnt in a short time, much shorter than the time one has already dedicated to learn to play.

Information on the New Approach and Kató Havas, with videos of a workshop

Some comments by participants at the workshop in San Ferdinando

This course was very good for me. One of the things that I liked most is singing the notes while playing the violin or beating the rhythm with one's voice while playing the drums, like in my case. I also found out that when I press my lips together I become all stiff.
(drums, 10 years old)

Kato Havas's method taught by Monica is very interesting to prevent aches and pains, tensions, to tackle the fear of playing in front of people.
The impact with this method makes me think a lot and also makes me a bit confused, not because the method is not effective and ingenious, but because one needs to revolutionize one's posture, change it radically. I'll try to do all I can to apply the "advice" given by prof. Monica Cuneo, also because having pains I cannot but try to improve my posture by eliminating physical tensions, opening my mind toward this new approach, so that it leads me to playing without aches and pains, fears, worries.

Learning to share one's own fears and tackling them together with other people,
learning from other people's mistakes to correct mine.
This is one of the best things
of this course.

From this course I've learn that we need to relax before playing and that we should not be tense, also that from the things other people do, be they right or wrong, it is possible to learn a lot.
(10 years old)

It's always good when music and singing entrust you with their soul to "bring" it to others, but during these days of the course expressing this essence by sharing it fully and with joy exalted in me their very essence. Thank you everybody

Humility is the key to access freedom. Thank you

Sharing the experience with other instrument players and musicians helped me to strengthen some concepts and open more and more my mind to music without distinctions of any sort. Thank you

See you on the next occasion!

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

Teaching DVD: causes and cures of physical injuries and anxiety

Violin and viola books

Go from Workshop in San Ferdinando to Kató Havas

San Ferdinando beach
San Ferdinando beach

Workshop in San Ferdinando, RC, Italy, on the New ApproachThe brochure of the workshop in San Ferdinando on the "New Approach"

Photos from the workshop in San Ferdinando

New Approach Workshop in San Ferdinando

Rehearsals for the concert we gave at the end of the workshop in San Ferdinando

Rehearsal for the concert in San Ferdinando

Rehearsal for the concert in San Ferdinando

Two articles published on the local newspapers after the concert that concluded the workshop in San Ferdinando

Article on the workshop

Article on the workshop