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Heather Broadbent

"Free Your Inner Vibrato" Post Includes 30 Minute LIVE Online Class recorded October 2013

July 24, 2014 06:55

Oldie but Goodie Post written in October 2013, about how to "Free Your Inner Vibrato." This post has been updated to include the "Free Your Inner Vibrato" Class I gave last October. The video is made available only for my online community and violinist.com viewers.
Enjoy the post and the class :)
Online Violin has been in existence for one year now and that means I have been blogging for one year. Funny thing is I just realized that I am a blogger. Interestingly enough, I have avoided the topic of vibrato. If you follow my youtube videos – not one of them is about vibrato. If you follow my posts you realize not one post about vibrato. Well, I have come to the point that I cannot avoid vibrato any longer because tomorrow October 2, I am giving an online class about Left Hand Techniques – including the v word – VIBRATO. My story starts with my own personal development of vibrato. I remember very clearly how my teached told me to practice vibrato. I was to put a sponge on the wall between the scroll of my violin and the wall to ensure that my left hand was only focused on vibrating and not holding the instrument. I remember doing this every day. I also remember that I was not happy with how I sounded when I was practicing vibrato and I would close the door to my bedroom thinking that way no one could hear how horrible I sounded. But after a week of diligent practice - I had vibrato.

Later in my violin journey I developed the varying widths, speeds, and type of vibrato. After teaching vibrato to countless students I have learned that there really is not a universal recipe of teaching vibrato. Every student was different and every vibrato that was developed had its own personality and flavor. Which is absolutely wonderful. So....Last week I was asked during my Online Violin Scale class, “What is the SECRET to Vibrato?” I easily avoided the question and said that is for next week's class:) But if I had to say one secret and only one secret to vibrato it would be............. A Relaxed Left Hand It is absolutely imperative to have a relaxed hand in order to have a healthy vibrato. Yes it is true, you can vibrate with tension but who wants to listen to that and you are doing yourself more damage than good. If you find this to be happening, STOP !! Don't encourage vibrato with tension. It is better to not vibrate and wait until you can developed a relaxed vibrato. Whenever I start to teach vibrato to a student I first ask them to demonstrate to me what they think is vibrato with their third finger on the A or D string. This lets me know what our starting point is and which vibrato that they are naturally able to do. For example, if a student shows me an arm vibrato at first then that is what we focus on developing first and if they are naturally able to do a hand vibrato then that is what we develop first.   SO tips and Exercises to developing a healthy beautiful vibrato.   No matter if you are developing an arm or hand vibrato it is imperative that you start with a relaxed left hand and arm. Have a great violin hold with your jaw and shoulder and shake out your left hand. Bring your left hand to the violin completely relaxed  


  • Move your left arm in the direction of scroll to bridge without touching the violin following a parallel motion with the fingerboard. This just helps enforce which way the vibrato should be going and gets the muscles moving so they are not locked.

  • Practice first on the shoulder of the instrument with your thumb under the violin and finger on top of the shoulder of the voilin. Move Parallel to the fingerboard.

  • Bow on open strings while doing steps 2 and 3. Sometimes it is difficult to have the left and right hand do completely different motions. Patting your stomach and rubbing your head and vice versa is a great exercise to practice hand independence.

  • Place the third finger down on the A string in first position and shift up the fingerboard and down. Be sure to have the arm work as a team and not just the finger shifting. This also helps encourage the proper motion for vibrato. Stay relaxed and eventually make the shifts smaller and smaller until you are barely shifting but still feel that you are moving your arm back and forth. Think of increasing and decreasing the angle at your elbow created by your bicep and forearm.


  • Colleagues of mine are firm believers in using the egg shakers to help develop vibrato. To be honest, I tried this one student and didn't see results that I liked with the egg shaker. It could be the student, it could be the method but hey if it helps you out great!! Follow step two below but with egg shaker in your hand.

  • While holding the instrument with jaw and shoulder shake out the relaxed left hand in motion of the fingerboard. Feel your hand going back and forth from the wrist. Feel it actuall flop back and flop forth. Bring the great relaxed left hand to the instrument, put third finger on A and feel the same motion while the fingertip of the third finger is glued to the fingerboard. Back Forth Back Forth

  • Focus on the hand moving back and forth not the wrist moving in and out


  Exercises for both vibratos   No matter the type of vibrato that is being developed, it is very important to feel your fingertip glued to the fingerboard and is being moved by the arm or hand.  

  • Practice with violin scroll against the wall cushioned by a sponge

  • Practice with metronome at quarter note equals 60 and move back and forth as quarters, eights, triplets, sixteenths and increasing speed rhythmically.

  • Very important once you have developed the motion to start using it right away in pieces on half notes, whole notes, what I call half notes for the left hand but quarter notes for the right.

  •  Use a timer and spend three minutes practicing vibrato on each finger.

  •  Apply the newfound vibrato to your scales.

  Advanced Exercises (after the vibrato is well established) Apply these exercises to your scale practice (ideally to a scale you feel very confident about the intonation. The purpose here is really to practice vibrato not the scale)  

  • Varying widths of vibrato – fast, slow

  •  Practice nonstop vibrato – feel as if you are practicing through the fingers from one finger to the next. Watch in front of a mirror that your vibrato does not stop ever. If it does practice those two fingers specifically

  •  Start to develop Arm vibrato if you have hand vibrato and vice versa with scales

I know there is so much more that can be added to this list and if you have had your own personal breakthrough vibrato please share below. Vibrato, like many aspects of the violin, is a personal journey. You can have guides on your journey to help but your vibrato is truly your vibrato :)
UPDATE!!! Free Your Inner Vibrato 30 Minute Live Online Class Only for my online community and violinist.com viewers.

Register for Violin Fitness and not only get access to my Free Your Inner Vibrato Class and all other previously recorded online violin classes - get access to live monthly online classes with myself and other violin enthusiasts!!

Love and Light Heather

Archive link

21 Orchestra Playing Tips

July 23, 2014 06:50


  1. Start from the string!

  2. Watch the conductor.

  3. Watch concertmaster for bow length, distribution, style and match your playing to hers/his.

  4. Feel full rests do not come in early.

  5. Always subdivide.

  6. Isolate upper position work.

  7. Fast notey passages always be on the beat - see notes in groups not one note at a time. 

  8. Don't rush, for the sake of all violinists in the section.

  9. Do not hang over the rests.

  10. Give every note its full exact value not too short and not too long.

  11. Arrive to rehearsals at least 20 minutes before the A is given.

  12. Don't rush to rehearsal - allow plenty of travel time.

  13. Always have rosin, mute, pencil, eraser.

  14. Healthy snacks for break and drive home.

  15. Extra contacts or pair of glasses.

  16. Make sure to have a set of extra strings and an extra bow.

  17. Listen to recordings of orchestral pieces being played.

  18. Have CDs in the car - listen to and from rehearsal.

  19. Violinist on the outside writes fingerings on top/inside violinist writes fingering on bottom.

  20. Small bows in fast passages.

  21. Stay calm and have fun:)

Feel free to add more tips and your personal orchestra stories (we all have a few funny ones) in the comments below...

10 replies

Freedom Within Bars

July 11, 2014 06:16

Freedom - Something that I have been obsessed with you can say...

In the states, for 10 years, my vanity plate was libre_1, "Libre" is french for Free - Free One.

Too funny because now I'm writing a post about freedom in the violin journey including freeing the ONE - the first finger on the left hand of the violin.

In this fantastically delish freedom post we will discuss:

1.Freeing the one in the left hand
2.The importance of finding freedom within bars of music
3.How you can ultimately tear down your own walls whether that may be in your violin journey or in life in general but really aren't they ONE and the same?

WARNING: This post is JAM PACKED of Golden Nuggets for your violin journey.

One of the biggest and most common problems I observed in students in my 20 years of teaching resulting in very large intonation issues was the first finger not being used properly. I was guilty of it myself at the beginning of violin journey because no one taught me how to properly use the first finger. I was just told to play a low 1 - ok, so I did but my teacher didn't go into details about how to achieve that. This is the case for many violin enthusiasts on the beginning of their journey.

In the video training below, I discuss in detail the importance of the first finger behaving properly - How to FREE the One by basically unlocking it at the knuckle to play low one.
Don't let the other fingers give into the peer pressure of the low one - they all remain the same. Watch the video below to learn more...

Post #6 of "The Great 38"

Fantabulous Freedom

As mentioned above, the topic of freedom is a very expansive topic. In our violin journey, we desire technical freedom and relish in musical freedom. Learn in the video below extracted from Violin Fitness, how you can find your freedom within bars - not the corner bars but the bar lines constricting the measures....

(The video is a bit shaky because I was out in nature and it was taken by my phone but the content is completely with it !)

Freedom Within Bars (bar lines)

In the above video I discuss the tearing down of my own Berlin Wall - Check out the results in the video below.
Heather Broadbent's "Naked Soul"

Just for Fun I have to throw this music video in the mix... One of my fave songs from the 90's

George Michael Freedom

Didn't see any Violin Secret's Academy video training in this post ?

I know I pack it full of information - tons for you to absorb, but it sure is fun.

Here is your Violin Secrets Video training extracted from the Intermediate level of Violin Secrets Academy.

Free the One in Third Position.

Happy Freedom Finding,

Yours in Light,
Heather Broadbent

This post was shared specially for the readers of violinist.com - it is a private post only for members of the free online video training program

"The Great 38"

Archive link

Previous entries: May 2014

Galamian's Principles of the Violin

Galamian's Principles Long one of the standards for violin teachers and students, Ivan Galamian's Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching offers both principles and practice exercises to help develop violinists of all ages and abilities. This new edition includes a foreword by Sally Thomas.

Get it now! In Paperback | For Kindle

Chiara String Quartet

Contest: Chiara String Quartet

Enter to win "Brahms by Heart," featuring the Chiara String Quartet playing all from memory.

About Heather

Heather Broadbent is from Gabrovo, Bulgaria. Biography

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