Violinist Cate Howard began her undergraduate studies at the New School of Music, Philadelphia, and completed her degree program at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in violin performance and pedagogy. She continued graduate work through Temple University in Philadelphia where she studied with Jascha Brodsky, and in Cologne Germany where she was a student of Christiane Hutcap and Igor Ozim. Cate has has also completed a violin licentiate performance diploma through Trinity College, London.
As a professional orchestral and chamber musician, Cate has performed with the Transvaal Chamber Orchestra, Delaware Symphony, Klassiche Philharmonie Bonn, Cape Town Symphony, Kammerorchester Marburg, Acton Chamber Orchestra, Emmanuel Music, Indian Hill Symphony, American Sinfonietta, and Pro Arte Orchestra of Boston. She has held violin faculty positions at the Wilmington Music School (Delaware), Settlement Music School (Philadelphia), Musikschule Marburg (Germany). In 1994, Cate became the director of the String Arts School of Concord MA, teaching violin and viola, and in 2001 joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. As a workshop clinician Cate has taught in Germany, Florida, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She is and has been on the Suzuki summer institute faculty in DC, Maine, western Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ogontz New Hampshire, and South Carolina. For the 2012-13 academic year, Cate was the violin teaching fellow at Umoja Music School, Tanzania.
Cate received the 2007 Daniel Orjiako Foundation Award in recognition of her contributions as a performer and organizer of numerous benefit concerts for the building of clinics, improved education opportunities, and the prevention of AIDS in southern Africa. In 2008, she published her first book How the Violin Plays the Violinist. In 2010, Cate was awarded the Massachusetts ASTA “studio teacher of the year”.
Cate is currently a violin lecturer at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Junior Conservatoire in Glasgow, teaching also at Wellington School in Ayr and in Castle Douglas, Scotland where she is the new director of the Galloway Violin Studio.
I am a passionate advocate of musical instrument study as a part of a child's balanced education and personal development. In my role as a violin coach, I aspire to share the best of what has been passed on to me by my teachers and mentors (teachers representing the Galamian, Ysaye, Rostal, Flesch, schools of violin playing). I also combine and bring many years of experience as an orchestral, chamber musician and teacher-mentor into my presentation.
For young beginners (even starting in some cases at age 3) I find the Suzuki method to be very well structured, stimulating and successful. During the early stages of violin study, the emphasis is on training the ear-brain connection, and brain to body coordination. We are constantly on a quest to find and relay what is beautiful. Very often before we start and most definitely as we proceed, connections to our heart occur as well - very personal and very individual. Studying the violin takes commitment. We work at it daily, it challenges and stretches us and occasionally pushes our buttons(!). The musical and lifetime rewards are, however, great and far reaching. Throughout the process of growing toward mastery of this form of 'communication without words', one also discovers why musicians PLAY their instrument!
When starting young children and those new to studying the violin, parents are an integral part of our violin project - we work together as a coaching support team for your child, and together our team proceeds step-by-step. Parents attend lessons listening and observing in order to assist in guiding daily home practice. My role is to supply my students AND their parents with the tools necessary for healthy technical and musical development, along with encouragement and motivation. I do my best to allow students the opportunity to be themselves, including providing quiet space to explore, to discover and to demonstrate their findings. Over time they come to assume more and more responsibility. Confidence, understanding and ability expand; connection with our violin becomes stronger; we have the foundations in place which opens doors for us to delve deeper into the rich and varied music left to us by great composers (or we improvise and compose our own pieces)!
Exposure to weekly ensemble experience is also a key ingredient to my studio's past, present and future success. In this setting, musicians learn sensitivity and awareness of others by using all their senses. The children develop friendships with other young violinists. They encourage each other. We train how to be leaders and how to follow a leader. More experienced players interact with those on the beginning end of the spectrum - they learn from each other. This is the training ground for proficiency in all orchestral and chamber music playing we may do in our lives.
A Guide for Violin Students, Teachers,
and Parents of Violinists
written and illustrated by Cate Howard
How the Violin Plays the Violinist is an exploration of how playing our instrument informs an artist-musician's whole being - body, mind and spirit.
Pragmatic, and philosophical, this book offers players, students, teachers, and parents of young musicians, insights into what the violin asks of its players, and suggestions on how one might open doors to increased efficiency, competence and free expression of our selves through our instrument.
The text in How the Violin Plays the Violinist is clarified and brought to life through the inclusion of graphics, hands on exercises, illustrative stories, and pencil sketches by the author.
From the book...
As players, most of us initially approach the violin as an inanimate object which we bring to life by performing certain actions, for example, by running our fingers over its fingerboard or by pulling the bow across its strings. It is as if we train the instrument to do what we want. It is as if we make it play: The violinist plays the violin.
True, yet, when I reflect on my life as a violinist, I realize that whenever I am working with the instrument, the violin and I actually share interactive roles – myself to the instrument and the instrument to me. For any energy I put into initiating vibration through the instrument, there is a return of energy to me as the player and, more expansively, to the listening world beyond.
The violin plays the violinist in the sense that through playing this instrument one awakens and activates connections in one’s entire self – body, mind, and spirit. The violin is instrumental both as a tool and as a means of teaching us to better know, understand, and express ourselves.