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When should kids learn vibrato?

Technique and Practicing: When should kids learn vibrato?

From Linda Tran
Posted August 25, 2012 at 03:05 AM

Hi all, my 8 year old has been playing violin 1 year and 5 months and is now on Suzuki Book 5 (Vivaldi's Concerto in G minor). She seems to do everything easily except vibrato. I have looked online and it seems that the consensus is that students should start grasping vibrato by book 5, but maybe I shouldn't worry about it if my kid's been only playing violin for 1.5 years? I play piano so I wouldn't know....

From Sean Gillia
Posted on August 25, 2012 at 04:07 AM
It sounds like your daughter is doing just great. I'm just a parent of a violinist, but in my limited experience, I would say you have absolutely nothing to worry about here -- 1.5 years is definitely not a long time, and I'm not sure there is a consensus about when students should begin "grasping" vibrato anyway. It is true that some students do begin to use vibrato on their own, and sometimes it's functional, but often self-acquired vibrato can come without much in the way of control and require teacher intervention, unlearning and relearning. When your daughter's teacher eventually introduces it (different teachers do it at different times), it can take a while before it becomes usable. Speed of acquisition varies from student to student, but diligent practice -- and patience -- will eventually be rewarded with a beautiful controlled vibrato. And then when one type of vibrato is learned, teachers will likely introduce another type, and the process begins all over again.
From Sue Bechler
Posted on August 25, 2012 at 12:24 PM
That is speedy progress through the Suzuki things. Does you daughter memorize each piece as she goes, and review regularly? A "trained" Suzuki teacher using Suzuki method would insist. I would not worry much about vibrato for a young, quick learner, as long as her left hand is nice, so she can add it when a little older. The Suzuki books are loaded w/baroque pieces. Our understanding is that historically vibrato wasn't utilized much on quick pieces, and gently on slow ones. Sue
From Hunter Miller
Posted on August 26, 2012 at 03:48 AM
im not sure because i dont teach (still a student), and i havent ever used the suzuki method before, but my vibrato just developed on its own, and once it started developing, my teacher worked on form and technique of vibrato with me
From Robert Pait
Posted on August 26, 2012 at 03:55 AM
If the child has the capacity to perform vibrato in its various incarnations and it sounds good, now is as good a time as any. (enter the "vibrato is overused" comments now) Well, it is sometimes.
From Linda Tran
Posted on August 30, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Thanks everyone for your input. Coming from a intermediate pianist point of view, I think violin is much harder than piano! I think I'll not worry about vibrato right now, b/c kiddie tends to just jiggle her violin around when told to "do vibrato" which, I'm guessing, is not the correct way to do it. To Sue: kiddie is going very fast, because it comes to her easily....she only practices 20min/day. She does memorize the songs even without being told to. I'm thrilled b/c I get to hear a lot of Vivaldi and Bach daily :0) I love baroque music

From Adrian Heath
Posted on August 31, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Both I, and my "Suzuki" students, touch the side of the fingerboard with base of the index in fast passages. In singing passages, a very slight elongation of fingers and thumb allows a slight gap - and vibrato!

The thumb does not "hold" the violin, it just "holds it up"..

When to start vibrato? When the students asks about it! It shows that he/she is ready.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 31, 2012 at 11:48 AM
I would say once they have become familiar with the 3rd position.

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