Question Regarding Vibrato and Hand Position

April 4, 2012 at 12:03 AM · Hello, I am a semi-beginning student, and I am having trouble with my vibrato. My teacher thinks I am proficient enough to use vibrato, but I am having trouble with it.

The trouble I am having is that I cant seem to keep room between the crook of my hand and the back of the neck while I am doing it.

I also cant manage to keep the side of my hand away from the side of the neck, making it difficult to move my hand and wrist accordingly.

Tips and Video recommendations would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks!

Hannah

Replies (39)

April 4, 2012 at 04:11 AM · slow movement. wide movement - a whole tone. find the easiest finger where it both sounds and looks correct - watch in the mirror and ask yourself if it looks like vibrato. work from that finger. keep your palm soft and just let your hand slide up and down from the note. Yes, its sounds like a siren. No, other people do not realise the contribution of the exercies to playing music. try from 3rd postion or 4th position, and an easier string like D or A, and initially stay up from the nut and try not to panic about 1st finger in 1st position.

all this is from my own perspective of the gazillion difficulties and hitches I seemed to encounter and still revert to when feeling uncertain about how to play a phrase. My youtube has a practise from about 6 months after starting, it essentially took a year to get something that wasn't a complete embarrassment.

April 4, 2012 at 09:54 AM · Aha...so it is not just me ! Why should the first finger in the first position be so difficult for vibrato ?

And why is it so much easier to do vibrato in the third position (with any finger) than the first position ?

Answers to these questions may help us beginners understand a bit more about what is going on and what we have to do.

April 4, 2012 at 12:41 PM · One word: YouTube!

Search vibrato on violin or something like that and there will be plenty of video for you. ProfessorV or Violinlab are especially the best.I mastered my vibrato in two weeks thanks to them

April 4, 2012 at 08:18 PM · "Aha...so it is not just me ! Why should the first finger in the first position be so difficult for vibrato ?

And why is it so much easier to do vibrato in the third position (with any finger) than the first position ?

Answers to these questions may help us beginners understand a bit more about what is going on and what we have to do."

------------------------------------------

Brian - it's easy to answer this question.

In 3rd position (and even more so in 4th and 5th) the hand is in a more natural state and is more free.

First position is one of the hardest to play in, and also to use vibrato freely.

You need to look at the great players and see how they use vibrato. And it has to be very free and like liquid. Don't bother with the web sites and teachers mentioned in earlier post.

I'm tempted to put a video on showing some points about vibrato, but being an extremely lazy person I know I will never get around to it, and the thought also of having to get the video camera out gives me the creeps.

April 4, 2012 at 09:59 PM · Hannah,

There are several recent threads and blogs on here about vibrato. There is more than one "right" way to do it, depending on whether you are learning more of a hand or an arm vibrato, and I also find that your instrument setup can make a big difference, so I don't want to get into a lot of specifics here. But if you just search, and are willing to read through a bunch of info and get a big picture, I think you'll find some really helpful stuff already on here!

April 4, 2012 at 10:06 PM · Do it Peter.

April 5, 2012 at 12:11 AM · It seems as though the exact positioning and motion for vibrato should be tailored to one's unique physiology. As long as the down-and-back rolling of the fingertips produce the desired oscillation in pitch, and can be controlled to the effect one desires, does it matter whether one maintains a gap, or how high the neck rests on the thumb? Not being argumentative, but curious, as I find the way that works best for me is a bit unorthodox compared to what is generally taught.

April 5, 2012 at 04:00 AM · Yes Peter, please make the video ! I have looked on youtube and there is some useful information there but I still feel that I am missing something. I can get something going in the 3rd position but the I am not happy with the 1st position. I am trying NOT to bring the arm into it at this stage. I am concentrating on getting the wrist and finger movements correct first.

April 5, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Sorry, video camera not working at the moment. If I can get it to work I will try, but I think its doubtful.

April 5, 2012 at 12:03 PM · >The trouble I am having is that I cant seem to keep room between the crook of my hand and the back of the neck

Right now I am working on this too: It seems that vibrato in the first position gets easier and easier as both of my hands get more relaxed. Thre is no need to actually keep room there, but avoid pressing with your thumb and crook against the neck.

Make sure to practice slowly, whatever exercise you do - otherwise you won't get less tense. And if you feel your left hand getting tense (or even starting to hurt) you need to stop for a moment.

It helped me to realize that only my fingers and no other part of the hand makes the music. Keep your fingers floating above the string and when you want to touch the string, only the finger(s) move, but the hand itself does not.

As soon as you can play without getting tense in the left hand the vibrato will be much easier in the first position, I am experiencing exactly this right now.

April 5, 2012 at 03:09 PM ·

April 5, 2012 at 07:54 PM ·

April 5, 2012 at 08:44 PM ·

April 5, 2012 at 08:48 PM ·

April 5, 2012 at 09:02 PM · I don't know how these stupid things work but I think the previous post has the link.

It is not much help anyway as I couldn't handle making the ******* video and play and speak all at the same time.

That's my last ever attempt at doing videos.

Also the sound is awful as the mic on the camera is probably a $1 mic and sounds really awful.

April 6, 2012 at 06:30 AM · Thanks John - I'm not sure its much help. You need face to face to teach vibrato (or anything) properly, really.

April 6, 2012 at 07:13 AM · 'From Hannah Silvia

Posted April 4, 2012 at 12:03 AM

The trouble I am having is that I cant seem to keep room between the crook of my hand and the back of the neck while I am doing it.

I also cant manage to keep the side of my hand away from the side of the neck, making it difficult to move my hand and wrist accordingly.'

Actually many teachers advocate keeping the side of the index finger in contact with the neck on one side and the thumb on the other. Some of the greatest players, play this way and it does not impede vibrato at all. Some great players don't. I have come to a conclusion it is more of a matter of comfort and how well you play in tune that determines if you are or aren't using proper left hand positioning in relation to your instrument for your hand. What impedes vibrato is left hand tension. This is a typical problem amongst many of today's players. The left hand must be completely relaxed and free of any tension in order to play with accurate intonation under pressure and for vibrato to work well .

Someone wrote above that vibrato (or the movement of the arm, knuckles, and hand) should be the size of a whole tone. That's just flat out really bad advice to put it lightly. Vibrato should never be that wide in amplitude (it just sounds out of tune if it is done this way).

April 6, 2012 at 08:21 AM · Quite agree, Nate. A whole tone!!

One has to be very choosey who one takes seriously on here!

April 6, 2012 at 09:27 AM · I am sure that they probably meant a half tone. Is a whole tone vibrato even possible ?

How much should the tone vary during vibrato ? I thought about a quarter tone was enough to produce the required result but I have never really thought about it before. I am happy with anything at the moment !

April 6, 2012 at 10:54 AM · A whole tone!!

I did'nt read who said that....but maybe they are refering to the...'preliminary excercises'

I think one is gonna have much difficulty with vibrato if one tries to copy what Peter is doing in his video. ( which actually inspires me to make my very own video )

The kind of 'preliminary excercises' one would benefit can be found ...'Muller Rusch,string method, book 3'...it's on the inside cover.

And.....'Louis Kievman, Practising the Violin Mentally and Phisically'....check page 13 'vibrato excercise'. In the 1st stage the wrist movement is a whole.....'Major Third'!!

April 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM · that was me re the whole tone, and of course it isn/t for playing ;[

but when you are LEARNING the action, to get that relaxation and the feel for the movement, that was something advised for me by my teacher and it worked. Sorry if you guys don't find that is a strategy that helps to learn. Perhaps you learnt as kids, when imitation allowed a much freer and less restricted motion to begin with.

You blokes reckon you've got it all mastered, don't you.

April 6, 2012 at 11:01 AM · Not to mention ......Simon Fischer 'Basics'

April 6, 2012 at 11:05 AM · I can do a major third if you want.

If teaching vibrato then there are of course various methods of rocking the fingers as exercises. But the most important thing is to have a left hand that is not only very relaxed but like jelly.

April 6, 2012 at 11:07 AM · If you are in Australia then the vibrato goes the other way around like the water does when it runs down the plughole.

April 6, 2012 at 11:16 AM · <<<'I can do major third'>>

It's a preparatory excercise!...people new to the violin must be aware of this!

If one desires a decent vibrato it will take much longer than '2 weeks' to acquire!...

April 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM · [face palm]coriolis, of course. Maybe that's why I couldn't cotton on to the 'elliptical' idea of the vibrato motion, I was doing it back to front. (I felt like i was doing it inside out and back to front).

as to the jelly feel, that idea of the soft palm was from christopher kimber via my teacher, and it is a good way (I find) to soften the whole hand. Works, as well as anything, for me.

April 6, 2012 at 04:05 PM ·

April 6, 2012 at 04:16 PM · "You blokes reckon you've got it all mastered, don't you."

Ve never have it mastered as zee violin is too bl**dy hard to master! Ve are only scatching at zee surface ...

But you can learn vibrato in two or three weeks. Electric shock treatment helps. (wink)

April 6, 2012 at 11:04 PM · Nah, ECT would have just left me with the jitters - the nervous vibrato so despised by all. Or perhaps I would have forgotten everything.

Perhaps some can learn vibrato in 3 weeks. I uphold my right to be an individual, perhaps a retarded individual, and take 3 years. I still have to practise it.

April 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM · One has to be very choosey who one takes seriously on here!

April 7, 2012 at 05:25 PM · Some people might resort to using a meat cleaver to solve the simplest problem. I'm against butchering violin playing.

April 7, 2012 at 10:01 PM · John, my teacher can't rotate her wrist (full supination), it stops about 15 degrees short. so when she plays her palm faces the body of the violin. I recall her saying that one of her teacher, once she reacehd adult hood, was trying to get and alternative position at her wrist and realised it was physiologically not going to happen.

but I don't recall anything from anatomy classes about a difference based on male/female. (Well, not in regard to the wrist..)

April 8, 2012 at 12:04 AM · Peter and Henry, I think Anna Karkowska has this 'major third vibrato' mastered. :)

April 8, 2012 at 06:39 AM · Nate - Yes - spot on! I did once know a viola player who had a vib close to 1.5 tones!

There are a few singers (esp in opera) who might qualify too!!

April 8, 2012 at 03:41 PM · Henry B

"( which actually inspires me to make my very own video )"

Why are we waiting so long? I've made two more in the last day ... (maybe the cameras run backwards in Australia ...)

April 11, 2012 at 02:35 PM · Back to the original question, re: online resources...

Try these:

Beginning exercise 1

Beginning exercise 2

Intermediate exercise

Advanced exercise

And my 2 cents' worth: You say you are having trouble. Just keep after it. Vibrato is not a natural motion, especially with you holding your hand up, and twisting the wrist around to engage the fingerboard. It takes some getting used to.

There are lots of different vibratos, so be consistent and learn one way well, then work on making changes to learn other vibrato styles/techniques.

Once you work at it for a while, vibrato will start falling into place -- and it will add a valuable tool to your bag of tricks. Just don't get weird about it, and you'll be fine.

April 21, 2016 at 10:22 PM · I have been working on my WRIST vibrato for the past few months. I agree that In third position, as compared to first position, the hand is in a more natural state and is more free to play vibrato with vigour.

In first position, particularly using first finger, I need to put in more effort to play vibrato. Do we use ARM vibrato instead to produce vibrato with vigour?

April 22, 2016 at 09:16 AM · Hi everyone,

There are many good ideas in the trail of comments above. However, something I have not yet heard is that, in order for the left hand to be able to relax sufficiently, you have to be able to hold the violin just with your neck. The left hand, especially in the early stages of playing vibrato should be free to do just that: make the vibrato movement, which is much easier if you don't have to hold the instrument with that same left hand at the same time. So get yourself a good shoulder-rest and strengthen your neck muscles! I tend to teach an arm vibrato first ,as it is much easier to develop larger muscles first and then carry onto smaller muscle groups. Take a look at my step-by-step vibrato tutorial at:http://www.proamstrings.com/proam-videos/

Good luck- as it is a fantastic feeling once it works!

Henriette de Vrijer, Pro-Am Strings

April 22, 2016 at 05:06 PM · Re: 1st finger in 1st pĂ´sition.

With short fingers on the viola, I adopt a rounded first finger in "half position" for a long, expressive vibrated note, but lean the finger backwards in first position for passage-work (where the fourth finger rules!)

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