I got to visit my nephew last week!
My nephew, Hương Vinh Thành, is pretty much a prodigy. He can do nearly everything his old uncle can! However, at his recital, I heard him playing tremolo sooooooooooooooooo fast! And he was wearing a tank top, but there was absolutely no evidence of tension. He look so relaxed.
When I try tremolo, I just can’t make it any faster! What?!?!?! What is that sorcery that my nephew just possessed? How can I achieve it?
Small motion. The less muscles used and the most relaxed state can lead to faster playing. He is probably using very small amounts of motion, just enough to achieve the sound allowing him to go faster without uneccisary inefficient motions.
Posture is also important. I imagine it would be easier with a high elbow and generally good stature.
Why don't you ask your nephew?
You don't need a high elbow to play a fast, relaxed tremolo but you do, as already noted, need to be using smaller muscles. It's very common for less proficient players to tense their arms all the way up to their shoulders and try to do tremolo that way, which does not work. It needs to come from the wrist and fingers, with a relaxed right arm.
I perform tremolo mainly by wrist motion (always have). Very little (if any) additional pronation (pivot of the forearm) is required for violin or viola tremolo bowing, but on cello, on which right-arm pronation is counter-productive for many of us, playing tremolo this way definitely requires additional pronation - but it's really no problem.
This is where playing first violin is easier than second.
Alright, here is a discovery.
Use only your hand and wrist. Forearm is still too big a motion.
Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'd think a "tremolo" with 16th notes would be closer to 200 to 240 BPM. In other words more like 32nd notes at typical tempos (or worse).
Maybe another way of thinking is: Use very little bow. Thinking that way may make it easier to use small muscles.
Do I speed it up uith the metronome or something?
Do I speed it up with the metronome or something?
I play tremolo with my wrist, keeping my arm stationary. (Except in that part of Schubert's 9th where I would use my arm to move the bow toward the frog to get ready for the long loud note that followed.)
Just going to further emphasise the point about being relaxed. Sometimes in orchestral parts there'll be two pages of tremolo, if you're tense it's not even worth trying!
I don't see it mentioned here, but there are very different tremolos for different situations.