Slippery fingers when trying to do vibrato
I dared to post here my beginner's question after trying every video on YouTube on how to do vibrato without the expected success.
I'm a 42 years old beginner. I've been learning for about two years on my own. I have some experience with some other instruments (piano, flutes...) but my kid starting with violin at that music school pushed me into this instrument two years ago. I was frustrated not being able to help her, so I started self teaching me how to play, essentially using YouTube. Later she stopped with violin and jumped into piano, but for me it was too late, I was really hooked,and now I'm so much hopelessly in love with this instrument that seems to avoid loving me back in a similar volume.
I'm now fighting with all I've got to learn to vibrate. I suffer from tendinitis in the right side (below the pinkie) of my left wrist, so my practice of vibrato is quite painful.
Besides that, I feel like my main problem now is that if I don't press my fingers enough they won't stay at the tuned place, but they would slip over the fingerboard, so I lose the entonation constantly. If I press any harder, my hands get stiffer and I lose flexibility. It's like I have too smooth fingertips!
I've tried everything! I know every YouTube video on how to vibrate! I have even tried to make my fingertips a bit stickier with a bit of resin so they would stay in place, but then it's very uncomfortable to play a passage with sticky fingers.
Please, advise! I'm a bit desperate with this! Also, I suspect that if my hand stayed in place maybe it would be more relaxed to have a better vibrato and less pain from that tendinitis.
Thanks in advance,
Your reference to tendinitis alarms me and your description of your left hand position baffles and concerns me. I strongly suspect you have some serious position issues. Please, if at all possible, take at least a few lessons from a qualified teacher and get your left hand sorted out before you even think of attempting vibrato. You can do some real damage if you keep playing incorrectly with tendinitis.
Dear Mary Ellen, thanks very much! I really have very little time (that's why recur to online stuff) , but I'm taking your advice very seriously and will try to find a good teacher to look at my position, at least.
Why don't you post a video for us and we can assist.
Dear Erik, would these work at least to check my positioning and the problem I mentioned? I just used my left hand, to hold the camera with my right hand.
Your thumb looks real high. The neck shouldn't rest right in the V like that (the V being the space between your thumb and forefinger). Too much contact.
Thanks! I try to rest just a bit on the base of the forefinger but I'll keep one eye on that! I think I can improve on reducing the contact, but I feel like my fingertips are so smooth that they'd move, they'd slip over the string. Any ideas on that? Do you think it's because of a poor thumb—neck position?
I am also trying to develop my vibrato. I concur with others that the thumb position looks high. Though not shown in the videos, this could be secondary to instability from the chin-rest/shoulder rest configuration if you use a SR, and a need to support more weight than necessary with the left hand. That will surely make vibrato harder. Re the slippery fingers - I am a surgeon and scrub my hands so much that my finger-tips are like dry leather. I found that some Neutrogena "Norwegian formula" had cream (no proprietary interest), worked in very well before touching the instrument, makes my fingers and thumb pad slightly "sticky" and facilitates vibrato. Don't use too much, or it will have the opposite effect (slippery, not tacky). Hope this helps!
I can't imagine how your finger would slide off the string if you're applying force in the correct direction. Then again, my hands are perpetually moist despite my best efforts.
Javier it may be that your fingertip joints are not flexible enough. then the slightest movement of your hand will drag your finger out of place. vibrato is essentially impossible without flexible fingertip joints. I'm sure you have seen that in the Youtube video's you mention, so probably I'm on the wrong track here. but anyway, you may want to look up the Rivarde exercise.
That Rivarde exercise, where can I find it? I've heard of it quite a bit, but I have failed finding the actual exercise, even here in violinist.com.
When I was first introduced to vibrato 70 years ago (an arm vibrato such as Javier appears to be doing) I was told to
Javier just google riverde exercise
I also agree with Mary Ellen's 1st reply. Pain is your body and brain telling you not to do that. Review posture, form and ergonomic motions. If the neck rests on the joint at the base of the first finger that will automatically give you the needed space below the neck and your personal height of the thumb. I will respectfully disagree with some, and repeat myself. The vibrato is not a sliding motion, but a pivoting, rotation on the finger-tip. Finger-vibrato is a misnomer; the motion, for both wrist or arm vibrato, is produced by larger muscles in the arm. The sliding motion is used for: playing half-steps with the same finger, audible glissando, fine adjustments of the pitch on long notes.
Joel, I think your remark about sliding was aimed at my contribution. Of course you are right. I was taught that way to get used to the larger motion (in that case, of the forearm). By the time it actually became a vibrato about half way through that first month my finger "pad" (or "tip") on the string was just rolling and the joints were flexing.
Thanks Andrew V. Actually, that sliding approach to learning vibrato is advocated by teachers and writers much more famous than you or I.
Thank you all! I will try every tip! I'm trying to do it by flexing the distal finger articulation while vibrating, but I know there is that other school of rolling over the string, I also tried a time ago. Watching videos of top today's performers it looks more frequent to observe flexing instead of rolling. But I'll try both!
I am begging you, please do not try to develop a vibrato until your left hand position is correct and pain-free. Not only will you risk further injury, you also risk developing a flawed vibrato that you will find extremely difficult to fix later on.
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