Developing an effective vibrato is a long-term project, for pretty much all string players.
For this vote, I'm focusing on that initial phase of developing a vibrato, when you "get over the hump" and are able to vibrate reasonably on any note that you wish to. After this phase comes a long period of refining it, learning to control it and make it go at different speeds and oscillations.
In Paul Stein's blog last week about Visualizing Vibrato, he wrote that teaching vibrato is a little like teaching the mechanics of walking, it's just not done.
I absolutely see his point -- you don't tell a baby where to put his or her feet! And yet I do think that sometimes those mechanics are taught, both in walking and in doing vibrato. I'm thinking about those times when people, say, lose their ability to walk and then have to re-learn it, using a lot of help from physical therapists and the exercises that they give them. For many people, learning vibrato might require a lot of help and special exercises from a teacher or other teaching resource.
I think vibrato can go either way, and I see this in my students. Some try vibrato on their own and get the motion without a lot of extra help. Though I might try to tweak things here and there, I generally let this natural process unfold. Being left-handed myself, my vibrato was self-taught in the beginning, and I practice it on tables. Though I have a nice vibrato, the quirky exercises I came up with for myself don't always work when I'm working with students!
Many students find the motion of vibrato to be rather mind-boggling. After all, it's an awkward motion, using a strange set of usually-underdeveloped muscles. Sometimes it's necessary to do some special exercises to get the brain to activate those muscles and to develop speed and precision in that motion, and it helps if your teacher can give you a number of them. (If your vibrato is well-developed, just try putting your fiddle in your right hand and doing vibrato, to see how difficult it is for a beginner!)
For this vote I'd like to ask whether vibrato came naturally to you, or whether it required more work and analysis from a teacher in the beginning. Please participate in the vote and then tell us in the comments, about what helped you get that vibrato motion working.
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