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Your Viola News! Issue #013 - Eliminate tendonitis from viola playing
July 22, 2011
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VIOLA NEWS! * * * * Issue 13 * * * * 22 July 2011

music and viola lover!

I hope this is not your case, but many viola (and other string) players, either professionals, students or amateurs, suffer because of aches and pains and even tendonitis in their arms, neck, shoulders, back, wrists, hands, carpal tunnel syndrome etc. caused by playing their instrument.

Viola players are more prone to these injuries than violin players, due to instrument size. Many viola players strain, work harder than they would on the violin, in an attempt to get a bigger tone or to find the notes on the fingerboard.

Many stop playing and start again, some even undergo operations and then quit playing altogether. In fact, in serious cases, surgery is the only solution offered to the musician. Not knowing an alternative, they accept surgery. However, this doesn't adress the cause of the problem, so when the player resumes playing, it's very likely that he/she will have the same problem again.

Famous viola player with injury

One famous viola player who had serious physical problems caused by playing the viola was the pioneer violist Lionel Tertis. He was quite a short man, yet for many years he played a large Montagnana viola (17 1/8 inch/43.5 cm). Eventually he developed a serious injury in his right arm and had to stop giving public concerts.

In his time the level of viola players was very low and they used to play on very small instruments (about 38 cm/15 inches). Tertis was against small violas, "so-called violas", as he used to refer to them. Therefore, after his own problems with a big instrument, he developed a viola model that was smaller than the large existing 17 or 18 inch violas, yet could still have a really satisfactory C string sonority. This model had many other characteristics that made it also lighter and easier to handle.

Tertis worked with a violin maker called Richardson, so this viola model became known as "Tertis model" or "Tertis-Richardson model". Nowadays they are not very common and many luthiers haven't even heard of this model. Anyway, I once had the opportunity to try and play one of such instruments, although only for a few minutes. A colleague in an orchestra owned one, and I really enjoyed its tone and found it very comfortable to handle.

Eliminate tendonitis without surgery

So, going back to tendonitis and other physical injuries, I think it's really a shame that people either accept operations or stop playing, because it is possible to eliminate tendonitis and other nuisances that afflict players, in very simple ways, knowing the 3 major causes of aches and pains and injuries and the 3 curative answers, the movements to do while playing.

These are simple things that could help improve the player’s tone, increase ease, agility in playing, also by heart, eliminate the insecurity and therefore the anxiety, the stage fright.

I specialised in the New Approach to string playing developed by Kato Havas, for the elimination of injuries and nerves in viola and violin players, and have also translated three books on the subject. I promote it because it really works! I published some pages about it on this website.


I will be running a workshop on this subject on 30 July 2011, at Teddy Hall (St Edmund Hall), Queen’s Lane, Oxford OX1 4AR. If you live around this area, come and say Hello! (even if you live far away you may wish to travel especially for this, it'd be great to meet you!).

Please, forward this message to anyone you think might be interested, for all the details and to register, visit the workshop page.

Special, further £5 discount for anyone coming to the workshop with this invitation!

Whether you are a viola player or not, best wishes for a life full of music.

Monica Cuneo

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you think!

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