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Anna Heifetz

Wrist Vibrato, Part Four

March 27, 2012 at 5:30 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 5)

(taken from a letter from my father-in-law, Michael Heifetz, 3/17/12).

Impulse Practice.

The purpose of the Impulse Practice is to develop rapid, continuous and dependable finger oscillation.

1. Begin working with the second finger. Start in the back position (finger relatively flat and on the pad), perhaps a half step below the pitch of the note (ex. second finger "D" on A String). Now, very quickly rock the wrist from this starting position to the higher pitch of the note, and then back to the starting position. This is oscillation #1, and your finger should go from the pad to closer to the tip area towards the peak of the oscillation.

2. Now pause; imagine a quick back and forth rocking action, like a single "snap" up to the actual pitch of the note and back down again. Then, make the "snap" movement. This is also one oscillation.

3. Repeat this single snap movement several times, always being sure to pause between each snap (RH continuous bowing OK) and imagine the next snap before actually doing it. Pausing and imagining the next actual move is very important. It is as though you are ingraining a rapid neuromuscular response pattern for this exercise.

4. Still working with the second finger (Anna used the 1st finger first, then 2nd, 3rd, and finally, 4th) practice this "neural impulse" pattern as follows:

1. Impulse #1, pause, imagine the next two quick impulses (think: "1,2)"
2. Impulses #1 2, pause, imagine three quick impulses (think: "1,2,3)"
3. Impulses #1 2 3, pause, imagine four quick impulses (think "1,2,3,4)"
4. Impulses #1 2 3 4, pause, imagine four quick impulses (think "1,2,3,4,5)"
5. Impulses #1 2 3 4 5, pause, imagine four quick impulses (think "1,2,3,4,5,6)"
6. Impulses #1 2 3 4 5 6; relax.

Now Let your entire finger relax, as though you have just woken up from a nap, while playing the impulses. Relax the arm bicep, especially if you have used arm vibrato in the past. Make sure the very pad and tip and last knuckles of your fingers are relaxed like "Velvet" while naturally ingraining the impulse exercises. This will get you the most luscious vibrato and improve tone.

Once you have achieved six successful impulses to a desired speed and consistency, repeat step 6 many times over. Keep the bow moving on a smooth non-vibrato tone while you relax your impulses.

Question: How "big" should the impulses be? Answer: As wide as your wrist will allow while keeping the neck and body of the violin steady.

Final lesson: Reminders for Practicing and Integration into Normal Playing

(written by Michael Heifetz/edited by Anna)

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