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

Kato Havas at the presentation of the book Stage Fright in Italian translated by Monica Cuneo, with her in the photoKato Havas at the presentation of the book Stage Fright in Italian translated by Monica Cuneo, with her in the photo

Buy Havas New Approach books       Buy the teaching video - DVD

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, theose who play know what the problems are, right?

That's the meaning of "New approach"; the violin is always referred to because Kató Havas is a 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's covers. 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).

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.

This book was praised by Yehudi Menuhin.

“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

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, German or Spanish

or in Italian

Also check Kato Havas teaching DVD

Stage fright - Its causes and cures

Stage fright
Causes and cures
Kató Havas

I consider this book like the Bible for violin and viola players. It was the first book to ever mention address these issues, very commonly talked about nowadays. This is another book that was praised by Yehudi Menuhin and that I translated into Italian. Here is Menuhin's comment.

Dear Kató Havas, I would like… to congratulate you on your book Stage Fright... It is the most realistic and practical approach imaginable… it should be worth its weight in gold to every student and many a performer.

Sir Yehudi Menuhin
Preface to "Stage fright"

“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

This book 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

        2.THE SYMPTOMS
           a) What is anxiety?



           a) The strokes
           a) The fourth finger
           a) The high positions
           b) Shifts


           a) Hearing
           b) Listening




Listen to my reading of the book Stage Fright

Buy "Stage Fright" in English, German or Spanish or in Italian

Buy Kato Havas teaching DVD on the prevention and cure of tendonitis and other physical injuries caused by violin and viola playing.

For lessons, contact me, I'm based in Oxford (UK). Also online viola and violin lessons are available.

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

Walk on the North Side

Memories of a violist

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:

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

"Playing the viola - Conversations with William Primrose"

This is a mostly technical book, very useful for players of different levels. It is written in form of dialogue with David Dalton, who was his pupil and in charge of the PIVA (Primrose International Viola Archive) for many years. Here Primrose talks about all aspects of playing the viola: the teacher-student relationship, playing the viola coming from the violin, how to practice, repertoire, stage presence and manners, performance practice, the left hand (you can even get to know his own fingerings in some works), programs, recordings, competitions and more.

It's like having lessons with Primrose himself, which is really invaluable. A must have.

This book is in print, actually it gets printed on demand.
Recommended for all
viola players, students, teachers, professionals (and also violin players can learn a lot from a great virtuoso).

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 is mainly on the violin but 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

Further descriptions of the books: A New Approach - The twelve lesson courseStage fright - Causes and cures
Buy the teaching video on DVD
Go to Violin and viola books
Go from Kato Havas to Violin and viola teacher

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Read more comments about online violin and viola lessons

For more information and for lessons:
call Monica Cuneo, mob. (+44) 7985 025129 or skype: monicacuneo or send a message

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 contact me and learn how

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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

Articles about Kato Havas

Shoulder rest or not?

Recommended readings

Some comments about my viola and violin teaching from my pupils

Articles on Kato Havas and the New Approach

Articles on Kato Havas

Recommended readings to eliminate physical injuries and stage fright

Click on them to read each book's description

I translated them into Italian,
you can see them here

Stage fright
Its causes and cures

A New Approach to violin playing

A New Approach
to violin playing

The twelve lesson course by Kato Havas

The twelve lesson

My previous workshops

Do you want a workshop on the Havas New Approach?

Havas New Approach workshop at the 43rd International Viola Congress, in Cremona. Monica Cuneo with Michael Kugel

Workshop at the 43rd International Viola Congress, in Cremona

Havas New Approach
Teaching DVD
on the causes and cures of physical injuries in violin and viola playing

Havas New Approach teaching DVD. How to eliminate physical tensions and stage fright related to string playing, violin and viola in particular

With detailed exercises on the release of tension and performance anxiety