The method taught at Jubilate Conservatory of Music is a blending of styles, with a predominance of the teachings of Kato Havas. Our focus is on technique, and reading music. We are not concerned about impressing others, but rather to enjoy playing music with fellow students. We keep the children at simple levels, focusing on bowing (extremely important); until they are truly ready to move on. In Level 2 we concentrate on the left hand, learning to love the concept of the interval. The performances are orchestral, with an emphasis on harmony, as opposed to melody. In this way we encourage team work through listening to others, developing the ability to focus, and learning to follow a conductor. The best way parents can support this approach to teaching in the first two levels is to set aside a time for practice, 10-15 minutes, a few times each week. The child is responsible for knowing what to practice, and how to practice, with minimal involvement from the parent. Sitting with your child while you are doing something yourself, like knitting, or book work is ideal. You can listen, and applaud their effort at sticking to their allotted time, with no comments or concerns about correct execution. This will allow them to proceed at their own pace as their own love of music begins to blossom.
In Levels 3 and 4, parental involvement can increase with benefit to the student. This would come in the form of being aware of music in the folder that is being studied, and possible reward for sticking to the regular practice of these pieces. Helping the study of geography and reading with the implementation of the flash cards is also helpful during these stages. Complaints from students regarding not wanting to practice should be expected and ignored until the student develops self discipline, which usually does not commence until high school or college. Level 3 and 4 students are encouraged to practice 4-6 times a week. This weekly practice can include a session or two of going over music without getting the instrument out of the case. Students studying at Level 3 also move at a slower pace. The notes on the five line staff must be read, not learned and then ignored as the student plays by rote. Reading music and connecting these notes to the geography of the violin is a lengthy and time consuming process. The Level 3 students discuss melody versus harmony, and they switch these parts back and forth in order to keep sight reading skills developing. Not until Level 4, will the class move at a faster pace. In order to progress to Level four, the student must demonstrate peaceful proficiency in: reading music, geography of the instrument, and executing proper technique.
When the student reaches a point where the classes are not meeting their needs, which could arise at any level, and they are seeking or desiring more instruction from a teacher, private lessons then become important. In this setting the student, if ready, can begin work on building solo repertoire. A music student will need private instruction for several or many years, depending on their goal; the virtuoso requiring extensive study.
A challenge for parents in the Jubilate setting, is that children will not be playing identifiable pieces of music such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. The Jubilate string player is making progress in such a way as to make it difficult to label. Their pieces are orchestral, not solos. Students will be concentrating on loving their violin and treating it with care, as well as bowing in a way that makes the violin sing, rather than cry. Students are learning to follow a conductor, read music, and listen to other parts, while they play their own. They will work on being free from pain and anxiety as they progress. If a problem, such as a tight shoulder or neck crops up, it will be addressed until it is no longer an issue. This means that the student may go back to playing a level of music already learned in order to release tension so that the problem can be dealt with before moving into the next level, thereby building a solid foundation in the mechanics of playing the instrument.
We must be careful to keep a balanced approach to our learning process; an approach that is centered in joy.
The Havas Method of teaching violin, and strings in general, was created by Kato Havas, a child prodigy from Hungary, who studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, where she received Hungarian virtuoso training. She went on to tour Europe, and made her Carnegie Hall debut at the age of eighteen, with stellar reviews. She went into retirement at age nineteen, and later developed her “New Approach” to teaching. The Havas method of teaching is focused on releasing tension and anxiety, and encouraging joy in musicianship.