I've played violin since I was 8 (I'm 23 now), but took a break to switch to oboe/English horn (which are my main instruments for undergraduate/graduate studies), so I didn't play for a good 7 years or so, with some "fiddling around" occasionally (concert orchestra senior year of high school, student teaching for middle school orchestra, playing in pit orchestra on vln 2 for my high school band placement, etc.)
So, my predicament is that I missed those years of growth, and my vibrato was very underdeveloped when I came back to it a couple years ago.
I have issues keeping the vibrato going when I change notes, and it's rather inconsistent. Some days it sounds great, and my form is really good (I used to use wrist vibrato, but I'm trying to switch to arm vibrato), and other days it's wild and fast, all coming from the wrist. Sometimes when I try to do it, my arm moves, but nothing happens. I also am not great at vibrating on short notes for color.
Any suggestions? I'm trying to move away from wrist vibrato entirely, as I find arm vibrato gives it a warmer color and slows the speed of the vibrations down so it doesn't sound like a mistake.
There are some really good video tutorials for vibrato exercises on youtube, most of them geared towards loosening up the mechanism and learning or relearning the motion. For my students I like:
This is one of those issues you really need a teacher for. Learning to use your non-primary vibrato (in your case, arm-vibrato instead of wrist) is a tough task that requires some clever solutions.
I'm jealous of you! I have been struggling to get a wrist vibrato for the last 5 years... I think the most relaxed vibrato is a combination of both wrist+arm and from what I see in most pros, the common distribution looks *approximately* like 60% wrist/40% arm. So I think it's optimal to have at least a 50/50 wrist+arm.
"...Keeping the vibrato going when I change notes..." It is perfectly natural that the vibrato stops when you change notes, or bow direction. To get that admirable "continuous vibrato" takes extra training. Two things you can try without a teacher 1) Use any easy piece with long notes, put rests between all the notes. Start the vibrato before each note and continue it, follow through after the note. Then make the rests shorter. Then get rid of the rests. 2) synchronize the change of the note with the direction of the vibrato motion; change from a low # finger to a high # finger when the vibrato is moving sharp. The reverse when going down; change from a high # finger to a low # finger when the vibrato is moving flat. Do this on a slur. Continuous vibrato when the bow changes direction is a lot harder.
Hey guys, thanks for your responses!
Can you post a video of you trying to vibrato each finger? Ideal camera distance is so that I can see your whole left arm.
You can post video? I can probably upload to Vimeo and post links. it'll show you everything I'm talking about with the vibrato and gargantuan violin
Yeah, post the links.
I was taught wrist and arm vibrato simultaneously. It meant to do all exercises in both ways.
Here's a link for my video. Luckily I had some free periods from teaching where I could do this. Excuse my intonation. Also, feel free to comment on bow stuff, too! I've worked a ton on bow technique, and I know I still tilt a little too far sometimes, but I think it's getting better. I used to suffer from the worst case of bouncy/stuttering bow that I've been able to cure.
You could try slowing your vibrato way down, and counting out the vibrations the same on the up and down bow, making sure sure you use a full bow. Say four vibrations per bow, exaggerating the hand movement, making the vibrations all the same size and switching smoothly to the next bow with no break in rhythm. Just slow it down however much you need to accomplish this. Then gradually add vibrations and speed, and reduce hand motion to normal.
Basically you have to force yourself to vibrate while you're at the top and bottom quarters of the bow...so I think the only way is to break the action way down, and slowly/gently introduce your left hand and bow arm into a slightly new coordination. Whenever I notice a problem like this in my playing, where I'm avoiding doing a particular thing, I try to target it. I get myself to do it in a very slow and relaxed fashion so that my brain has a chance to drop some of the anxiety surrounding it. Not to assume, but the way you avoid vibrating at the top and bottom of the bow looks like your brain has built up a fear around it, probably of how it might mess up the rest of your playing if you try. Once you feel your brain change its association and then become able to process this new thing, it's exciting. It feels great to laser-eye a problem this way, too.
Well vibrato can take up to 3 years to really develop to a high level, and I’ve written before that I think there are a few stages to being able to do vibrato:
I haven't read the other posters' responses so pardon me if I say anything redundant here:
Oh my goodness, everyone, thank you SO much!! You all have given me so much great advice, and it's incredibly encouraging! The video I had done was after several attempts (I'm not a perfectionist, per se, but I'd delete it or stop the video if even one note is out of tune or if I don't like it, which kind of defeats the purpose of the post...) That day was a relatively decent day, I felt. Some days I want to just quit because it sounds so bad, but I know weather and temperature has an affect on sound quality. The same thing happens with my oboe playing. Reeds are notorious for not cooperating when you want them to ;)
Your bow hand seemed functional for what you were playing. There are certain things that you will need to improve as your repertoire becomes more demanding, the main one being a more relaxed pink that has more bend to it. Contrary to what you might think initially, this doesn't involve just *bending* the pinky. It involves bringing the base knuckle of the pinky closer to the bow, so that the pinky must be more bent in order to stay on the top of the bow.
Thanks, Erik! I should probably upload another video of me playing some rep or an etude so you can see it in a real setting and not just me trying to play a perfect scale (perfect being a loose term...) I'll see what I can do in the next couple days. I've got a busy week coming up with teaching and graduate school!
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