Help with 4th finger vibrato!
I have been struggling with 4th finger vibrato my entire life, especially in the higher positions where it suddenly gets slower and narrower... If anyone could watch the following *VERY SHORT* video and give me some practice advice, I would really appreciate it! The major problem notes for me are those high B flats up on the A string.
Another thing which is perhaps not so urgent but nonetheless something I want to change, is getting more wrist action in my vibrato. At the moment I feel like I have around 90% arm 10% wrist, and I would love to have 50/50. If you can identify anything I'm doing which hinders wrist action, please comment!
I don't really see a problem that any good player doesn't have.
I stopped worrying about 4th finger vibrato when I was reading the Bruch G-minor concerto (I think) edited by Menuhin and noticed how often he favored 3rd finger "up there."
Indeed, using Menuhin's fingerings, I found I capted his phrasing & style..
Thanks for your comment Erik. Yes I have watched many top players and somehow all of them have great 4th finger vibratos, even when they look strange (Jansen and Fischer with locked joints!?) Anyway here is a video of a scale:
I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but in that last video, you're still using at least 30% arm vibrato.
James, I remember you commented on my vibrato post, saying how jealous you were that I have wrist vibrato, but honestly, I'm jealous of YOU! Your vibrato is gorgeous and well-controlled! I'd die for a consistent, slower vibrato. I think you're doing just fine!
ditto. there is nothing obviously wrong with your vibrato. of course there is no problem to keep on working on it. I remember the story of a Queen Elisabeth Competition winner who decided afterwards to take a year off performing because he wanted to improve his vibrato. no joke! just keep working seriously and improving overall and the vibrato will improve with everything else. keep up the good stuff, great to have you on this forum!
Also, the standard way to isolate the wrist is to practice with the palm against the upper bout (3rd or 4th position depending on your hand/palm size.) From there, you can swing your hand away at the wrist, for a pulled motion, or swing toward you for a pushed motion. What you choose may depend on context, e.g. a pivot shift or glissando down or up.
I haven't thought this through super deep, but it seems like if you wanted more wrist, you may need to position your hand so that it is more over your 4th finger, and so it's a little higher over the fingerboard. You might find that your thumb comes towards you a bit more to act as a pivot on a line closer to your 4th finger.
Christian said: ---"I also have to disagree with Erik's parsing of the vibrato direction, which seems like a sort of cargo-cult explanation. You don't need your calipers out to measure where your hand or finger is going - You let your ear be your guide on the sound you want and you make sure you are doing it in the most relaxed way possible."---
I get what you are going for Erik, but your argument is based on a false premise. All of my reading indicates that vibrato does NOT go up to the pitch, but rather surrounds it on either side, and that we tend to hear the average. I COULD be wrong, but my larger point is that saying so confuses the issue.
Thanks very much for your advices guys! I will practise all these things and maybe post a progress update in a couple of weeks. That Flesch exercise already seems to be activating more in my pinky :)
James, since the tendon of the 4th finger is connected to the tendon of the 3rd finger (try curling the 3 without the 4 following it), it gives extra strength to the 4th when we curl the 3rd.
James, I think Mutter is probably doing what she needs to get her hand over her pinky (and consequently over the fingerboard) so that she has leverage over the finger (The weight of her hand is most naturally centered over the finger that is going to transmit the weight). In this case, this involves rotating her hand so that it isn't ready for passagework. But in this case, the hand frame doesn't need to be ready for passagework, since that high note comes at the end of the phrase. There are no notes after that she needs to be ready for, so she can take her hand out of the frame and better shift the balance to really make that note sing. I think your teacher's advice makes the most sense in terms of either faster passagework, or kind of in-between tempos where you are vibrating a melodic line, but don't have a lot of time on each note.
yes James something I notice a lot with top soloists: when you have time, you do with your hand whatever you need to get the most out of it. then of course in fast passages their hand will be back to normal.
Agree ASM has a phenomenal pinky! But the curling under of her other fingers has to do with the way she fingers the top of the arpeggio, by keeping 1 down as an anchor and extending with 4. I don't think she has a weak pinky finger at all, or she wouldn't use it in that passage (I've never seen anyone else play or teach that passage using the pinky.)
I'm going to agree with many previous respondents and say that you have a beautiful arm vibrato and I wouldn't worry about switching to half or full wrist or whatever. Both arm and wrist folks have to work hard to refine the speed and width to match the character. I, too, will avoid 4th finger on really important notes, mostly because I find it lacks strength, not even because of the vibrato itself. However, when I do use the 4th finger, I break all the "rules" to get the swing I need. For me (mine tends to be tight and small), I will spread out the hand (pointer finger towards the back), or vibrate with my 3rd finger down. This is not something I would do 98% percent of the time, but I think the rules (like not curling the fingers in) have to be broken to get the right sound every once in a while. I will often play "copycat" with my fingers, pretend that I'm playing another one or even put that other one down to get the swing I'm looking for. For me, fingers further spread apart gets wider swing, closer together or curled in gets a smaller swing, but everyone is a little different. When in doubt, do anything to sound good, as a teacher of mine used to say. You have a beautiful sound!
Unrelated to Thread: Jeewon, are you one of the Jeewon Kims that can be found playing violin on youtube, or are you a different Jeewon? This question has nagged me for a while. I've become curious about your background (I would PM this question but you have no contact info).
Good call Jean. I will have to do my own research about the vibrato. There's probably more than one way to skin a cat.
Hey Erik, if you hit my contact button it should give you my email, which is just my name with a dot between first and last at gmail.
Thanks, I sent you an email. The "contact" buttons rarely seem to work for me for some reason.