Kato Havas and the
"New Approach"

Causes and cures of physical injuries in VIOLA playing

(and violin, fiddle too, of course)


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Kato Havas is a violin and viola teacher who, several years ago, was the first one to talk about how to prevent and eliminate physical injuries in viola and violin playing and has been teaching for about fifty years.

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

I have become a huge fan of her New Approach because IT WORKS! By eliminating physical tension not only you eliminate pain and injuries but also stage fright (not a smaller problem!).

The New Approach applies to violin & viola players of all levels and styles: classical, folk, beginners, professionals etc.

Playing Viola (and violin & fiddle)
doesn't have to be a pain!

Have you ever suffered from any aches and pains in your shoulder, neck, forearms, thumbs, or even serious tendonitis or tendinitis, tenosynovitis, fibrositis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.? Have you ever heard (I did) of anyone who had to undergo surgery because of physical injuries caused by playing an instrument? I personally know more than one who then stopped playing altogether, even after the surgery.

Have you ever suffered from serious nerves that prevented you from playing for any sort of audience, as well as you can do when you play on your own? All these things are interrelated.

Maybe you've been told that's "part of the game", that there but is nothing you can do about it, but it's not true, it doesn't have to be so.

There is no point in having rests when practicing, massages, undergoing surgery, taking painkillers to be able to keep playing despite the pain (the worst thing to do). If you don't address the cause (incorrect use of the body when playing) of the problem, you'll have the same effect (physical injury).

Also by using the body properly and using the other Kato's tips, the players improve their tone and from the very beginning and progress is much more rapid.

Who is Kato Havas?

Kato Havas was a child prodigy on the violin and received the traditional Hungarian virtuoso training at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. Later she developed the "New Approach", a way to teach and play to prevent and eliminate physical injuries. By teaching it, she realised that it also eliminates nerves, stage fright, related to string playing. This approach was illustrated in her book "A New approach to violin playing", published in 1961. Then she also published other books and a teaching video (the one you find on this page) which is of great help to understand everything better.

Kato Havas received in 1999 the “Isaac Stern International Award” from the American String Teachers’ Association for “unparalleled results”, her books were praised by Yehudi Menuhin and was appointed OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music".

"Miss Havas is original in her approach to the violin [& viola] playing because she insists that technique must be reducible to basic motions involving more than the fingertips"

Sir Yehudi Menuhin

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

In many cases, professionals go to see her in secret, because they don't want others to know about their problems, they go to see her as their last hope.

A great teaching DVD

"We all have the same aspiration, that of being able to release the full force of our inherent energy impulses into a powerful musical flow. ... The magic of music is in its transiency... Why is this aspiration, so often, so elusive? What are the causes for all these aches and pains and mental anxieties?"

This is beginning of an inspiring teaching video by Kato Havas. It was made some time ago and now that most people use the Internet to find information and to buy stuff, this was impossible to find, so recently I decided to promote this great DVD, because the new approach WORKS and I want everybody to know about it.

This video is great for players and teachers, it deals with all aspects of playing, explaining exactly WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU PLAY to prevent the damage (not before or after, when the damage has been done).

Buy Kato Havas teaching video online - £19.00/$29.99 +pp

In this video you'll learn about:

  • The three major causes of injuries
  • The three preventive and curative answers
  • Remedies for the hanging weight of the instrument
  • The flying fiddle
  • The "no violin/viola hold"
  • The "no bow hold"
  • The bow's middle-by-balance
  • A doctor's view
  • Optical illusions in viola and violin playing, that mislead us, and remedies for those
  • How to use your eyes properly
  • The two "joints" that control bowing technique
  • The importance of singing and miming
  • The real length of eight positions
  • How to use imagination to train you left hand to be soft and springy
  • The swinging fingers
  • The controlling part of the left hand
  • The "interval shapes" in your hand and in double stops
  • The "Japanese fan" exercise
  • The balance between the left thumb and little finger
  • The high positions and the curve interval swings
  • The natural vibrato
  • Practical exercises for all of the above mentioned

and once you've got all that, to finish

  • The ultimate coordination: what coordinates and activates all movements

Buy Kato Havas teaching video online - £19.00/$29.99 +pp

All her books and this DVD are for practical use, you shouldn't just sit there watching it or reading: stop and do what they say, apply the exercises.

The originality of Kato Havas

This issue of musicians' injuries is a lot talked about nowadays, not so when Kato Havas books were published in the 1960s. I myself have experienced that the New Approach applies to viola players even more than to violin players, because the viola is quite bigger than the violin, therefore there is the tendency to strain the body even more: more pressure with the head and more hunching the shoulder to hold the bigger, heavier instrument; more pressure with the left hand, especially when playing double stops; more pressure with the bow to produce the sound.

What is different in Kato Havas's teaching, compared to other books and studies published more and more often, in recent times, is not only that she was the first one to become aware of this problem about fifty years ago, but also that she teaches how to prevent and eliminates physical injuries from a musician's point of view. Every movement is done not just because is good for the body, but it has a musical reason, every movement is in the service of music.

What I learned from Kato Havas

What I learned from Kato (or remembered, since we all know this instinctively), is that playing music is not just about doing the right movements so that you don't hurt yourself and play all the right notes, it's a special, unique type of communication. Music is pure magic, produces an instantaneous effect.

If communication is missing because we are in pain and stricken with fear, all is lost and we have what she calls "silent music". That's why we have to deal with the physical aspects of playing. As she says, "The New Approach is there to be free".

Think about this: the greatest musicians, of all genres, were not just "very good players", they were "great communicators".

This approach is illustrated in her books "A new approach to violin playing", "The twelve lesson course" and "Stage fright - Its causes and cures", the DVD and the videos available to everybody through the Internet. Despite the title, the new approach applies to all string playing.

If you've enjoyed watching the videos of Kato Havas workshop, then you can't miss this teaching video on DVD. If you've ever been looking for it, you know that it is very difficult to find. Now from here you can get it easily.

You can watch it tens of times and it's cheaper than ONE lesson

and if you've read her books, you'll find this video great because you can actually see what's written in the books and it will help you to understand it much better.

To learn more about the New approach, go to this page on Kato Havas workshop and read Kato Havas's books.

Buy Kato Havas teaching video online - £19.00/$29.99 +pp

(it works on all DVD players and on computers)

and learn how to prevent end eliminate physical injuries

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Play easily without pain &

Related pages

Read the book Read the book "Stage fright - Causes and cures", by Kato Havas, and play freely

Buy Viola in Music's Collection of 13 famous tunes (19 pages)
£7.99 and download them instantly
They are in their original keys, so you can play them in sessions with other instruments

Jesu, joy of man's desiring
Michael Turner’s waltz (2 versions)
The greenwood tree
The south wind
Fanny Power
Ye banks and braes
Skye boat song
My Bonnie
My love is like a red, red rose
Sportsman’s hornpipe
The road to Lisdoonvarna
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
Iron legs

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Buy Havas New Approach teaching DVD to eliminate physical tension musicians' injuries and stage frightBuy Havas New Approach DVD