Cate's bio

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.


Philosophy & approach to teaching

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. 


How the Violin Plays the Violinist

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.