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Anna Heifetz

Wrist Vibrato, Part Five

March 29, 2012 at 4:09 PM

(For more entries on wrist vibrato:
Here is Wrist Vibrato, Part 1
Here is Wrist Vibrato, Part 2
Here is Wrist Vibrato, Part 3
Here is Wrist Vibrato, Part 4)

This is the last entry for the "Wrist Vibrato" series.
(taken from a letter from my father-in-law, Michael Heifetz, 3/17/12)

Impulses Practice Mastery

1. Now, shift gears. You are no longer thinking about how many impulses. You are shifting to continuous impulses. Let it go. It's fluid. It happens without you forcing the motion. Don't count impulses.

2. This same impulse practice should be done with each finger. It should be done thoughtfully-- it won't help much to do it automatically. You must think during the pauses. Do your best to imagine a rapid, even series of impulses. Then actualize-- replicate what you've imagined as perfectly as you can.

Reminders For Practice

1. When playing music the vibrato should always feel free and fluid. Ideally, there should be no traces of the mechanical effort used to develop the vibrato. "Let it Go," verses "Make it Go."

2. If your motion becomes stuck, try lightening your touch. Think "like velvet."

3. Keep the mechanical practice of the vibrato separate from the music playing experience. When you are playing music, vibrato should become a natural sounding expressive vehicle. It's application should emanate from your desired musical expression. Let it flow from what you are trying to express, rather than to be applied mechanically.

4. Some people develop a vibrato quickly and only need to do occasional "maintenance" practice. For others, vibrato continues to be a challenge, well past the initial learning stage. They may find it necessary to spend a little warm-up time daily on vibrato.

Integration into Normal Playing (by Anna)

1. Once the vibrato is accomplished successfully on each finger and in each position, on one note per bow, start integrating wrist vibrato into your normal playing. I did this first by going "back and forth" from 1st to 2nd finger many times over, making sure my vibrato did not break, and that my bicep muscle (remnants from arm vibrato) was not trying to intervene.

2. Then, go back and forth on one bow, slurring notes, from:
a. 2nd to 3rd finger
b. 3rd to 4th finger
c. 1st to 4th finger
d. 1st to 3rd finger
and so on. Do this all on one string at a time (no switching strings). If you get stuck, go back to impulse practice.

3. Next, integrate wrist vibrato with bow changes, one note per bow. Utilize the same exercise as above (#2). Be sure to get all the way to the very end of the frog, and slowly transition at the frog, in very slow motion, to make sure there's a seamless transition every time. Again, check your vibrato: is it steady?

4. Integrate small shifting exercises with vibrato, from 1st to 2nd position, and from 1st to third position to begin with, on one finger, then on alternating fingers. (ex. second finger on C going to D on A string). Practice these into the higher positions.

5. Now integrate wrist vibrato on different strings in one position, and then, on different strings in different positions. Use same or different fingers for all.Remember to go back to impulse practice should you get stuck.

5. Integrate the scale. Start at one note per bow, long tones, quarter note = 42. Go all the way up and down the scale, with a seamless vibrato and seamless bow changes. Be sure to stop and practice your shifts within the scale first with vibrato practice to seam it all together.

Reminders for Integration Practice

1. Play slowly and thoughtfully in your execution of the integration practices. Each exercise will become natural in it's own time, some more easily than others. Patience is valuable. In the beginning, integrate these exercises in order and slowly, always returning to the impulse exercises for early maintenance. Each integration exercise should become automatic before moving on to the next.

2. Mastery has occurred when you don't think about it, and the form has taken hold on it's own. Performance is the true test of your new techniques, and don't worry if you revert back to old ways in concert after having done so much initial leg work. This may take many months or a day to obtain a solid integration of your hard work, but the rewards are endless.


From Kathryn Woodby
Posted on March 30, 2012 at 4:34 PM
Hi Anna,

This has really been an interesting series. I too am going throug the learning process but with arm vibrato, which i have never mastered-I'm in the early stages if integration right now and there are good days and bad. Funny thing is, I can teach a great arm vibrato; I have a good hand/wrist vibrato which i came across quite accidentally a couple years back but have never been able to teach well cuz i wasn't really sure how i did it! I've been doing some research but your posts have kind of put it all together. Going to sit and read through, kind of crystallize things in my mind, and then see if i can use it to refine my own and actually be able to teach it!

From Anna Heifetz
Posted on April 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM
thanks Kathryn. If you discover anything to add, please pass it along as a comment for all to see. :-)

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