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Mendy Smith

Vibrato & Kreutzer

May 2, 2008 at 7:15 AM

I thought that torture was banned in the civilized world? Apparently no one considered that by combining Kreutzer #3 and vibrato, an entirely new form of torture has been developed and administered in my teacher's studio and my music room. And just to make this agony more excruciating, let's not forget shifting up to that high E on the A string.

Trying to keep my first finger from flying up in the air is taking immense concentration. The C string vibrato and 1st finger vibrato is taking just as much concentration, but with less favorable results. I suspect my 1st finger problem is due to tension (not quite a death grip) on the neck once I place it down on the string. The C string issue is most likely a arm position problem.

Adding Kreutzer to this mix is nearly insane. I'm vibrating on random up-bows and down-bows. I'm either stopping the vibrato completely between notes, not vibrating at all, or holding notes that I can actually execute a decent vibrato for longer than is called for.

It took me several minutes to figure out that when I get to the high E, I'm in 8th position. For tonight at least, I gave up on any effort at rhythm or bowing and focused on only hitting the right notes in tune consistently. Yost time!

After a week or so of pushing myself beyond my capabilities (again), all my flaws are being painfully exposed. It helps re-focus what I'm doing technique-wise. Blue Gumby is coming out of retirement for the time being while my left hand gets a work-out so that my right doesn't slip more.

I'm also getting an opportunity to learn things I never before imagined - musical terms (Restez.), notations (fingered harmonics), new bowing techniques (up-bow staccato while playing ppp double stops on the G and C strings), scales (3-octave D-Minor), fingerboard stratoshpere exploration (8th + position), etc...

How can something so frustrating and incredibly difficult be so much fun? I don't think I will ever know the real answer to that question. All I know is that playing viola is a passion that has withstood the test of time. Yes, I'm approaching 30 year mark of viola-playing.

YIKES! It's taken 30 years to learn vibrato?!?!?!?! Oh well. What is a few more months to learn 1st finger vibrato in the scheme of things?

From jake bush
Posted on May 2, 2008 at 7:10 PM
Vibrato is a constant difficulty for me as well. I don't know what it is, but my hands seem destined to be unable to make a beautiful vibrato!

I see Suzuki children who somehow can vibrato better than I even though they can't play pass third position.

Sigh.

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