Off the wall arm vibrato!

June 16, 2008 at 11:16 PM · With the scroll against (a towel on) the wall my arm vibrato is coming along slowly but surely. However, when I attempt similar exercises without this support, I end up clamping the chinrest more and my left arm is much less free to move. This is especially the case on the g string. How can I gradually overcome this transition from totally supported to free standing?

Replies (8)

June 17, 2008 at 01:30 AM · Shotgun!

Hold the instrument on your right shoulder like a shotgun and put a dob of imaginary glue on the finger tips while you try to use the same motion as when the instrument is held in place against the wall. See the book "Viva Vibrato" by G.Fischbach and R.Frost (Kjos) for other excellent ideas - although this book doesn't seem to distinguish between arm and wrist vibrato.

June 17, 2008 at 02:06 AM · It sounds like you're having trouble holding it when it's not against the wall. A vibrato exercise I was given was to move the finger to the rear-most position and stop, then move to the forward-most and stop, and then back, and so on, slowly like a stretching exercise, no wall. If you tried that, you might be able to discover where the problem with holding it comes in and fix it.

June 17, 2008 at 12:28 PM · Hmmm, I'm not a fan of huge arm vibrato, nor holding the violin up against the wall. But I would say that trying to keep the violin still is not the point. I like to think of the fingerboard as a bar that my hand hangs from (like a monkey bar). If you need an inanimate object to help you do this try a shoulder height bureau where you can place your scroll on top. That way you feel as if your hand is hanging from the fingerboard thus moving freely.

June 17, 2008 at 01:03 PM · It sounds to me as though you may need to work on how you hold your violin. You may be holding up too much of the weight with your hand 7 forearm. You could also be impeding the vibrato by compressing your hand against the neck when the violin weight isn't shifted to the wall. If your violin is well-balanced on your collarbone or shoulder, it shouldn't be all that hard to produce a vibrato similar to your practice routine. If you don't use a shoulder rest, it could be an idea to experiment with some designs. Sue

June 17, 2008 at 01:35 PM · When I was instructed to develop an arm vibrato, I was told to put my bow away and slide a finger on the string back and forth about a quarter-tone distance. I did this for a few minutes a day for about a week before I let the finger remain in place on the string and only allow the the 'bone to move in the flesh' so that flesh would move on the string. After that it sounded OK when I bowed the notes. It probably took about 3 weeks before I thought I had a vibrato going.

I do wish I had been started on a wrist vibrato, instead, better for double stops and pizzicato.


June 21, 2008 at 11:34 PM · Here's a couple of clips on arm vibrato.

Pt 1

Pt 2

June 21, 2008 at 11:42 PM · Just imagine you are massaging the notes.


June 27, 2008 at 09:41 PM · Thank you all for the suggestions. I have the Viva Vibrato book, but I sense that the problem cannot be overcome by exercises alone as it's more fundamental.

As Sue says, this might be due to my hold/position, whereby I am requiring to support/lift the neck of the violin too much to also develop a wide vibrato.

I AM using a shoulder rest (Wolf), which I find comfortable, and I don't otherwise have any problems in supporting the instrument. I changed from a side chin-rest to a central one (i.e. across the tail-piece) a few months ago, becuase I was struggling in higher positions, and this seems to have helped as the violin is now flatter on my shoulder (before it was more sloping, on my collarbone).

Thanks again and regards,


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