Advanced Violin Teacher in Toronto or Niagara Falls Area & Vibrato tips?

Edited: June 16, 2019, 12:52 AM · Hello,

I’m looking for a good violin teacher in the GTA or Niagara Falls area (preferably Niagara Falls). For reference, I’m currently working on a mix of RCM level 10 and ARCT. My parents and I have no idea where to start so any names and contact information would be helpful.

Also, do you have any tips for developing a beautiful vibrato? I can vibrato but I lack speed control (always too fast) which just makes it sound narrow and not at all beautiful. Should I be doing vibrato exercises? It’s very frustrating because my teacher hasn’t come up with any ideas or methods to help fix the problem. She just says to try and imitate great violinists, don’t practice vibrato and it will come naturally. I’m not so convinced that my vibrato will improve if I don’t practice it. I have watched so many YouTube videos yet I am still struggling. Please comment any advice you can think of.

Thanks for reading :)

Replies (7)

June 16, 2019, 1:24 AM · I might can help you with your vibrato.I am a retired concert violinist from Budapest,Hungary.Living in Toronto for 40 years.I use to have my own violin I have 3 students...teach at home.Send me an email and will take it from
June 16, 2019, 6:50 PM · Jeewon Kim has been a frequent contributor to (less so in recent months) and I believe lives in the Toronto area. He seems brilliant at diagnosing and helping people fix technical issues. See if you can track him down.
June 17, 2019, 12:18 AM · Nothing simply happens without practice. Try Simon Fischer's 4 vibrato exercises from "Warming up", or the exercises in the vibrato sections of his "Basics" or "The Violin Lesson".

June 18, 2019, 7:15 PM · In terms of teacher, I would start with Toronto Symphony musicians (you can contact their office and see if you can get contact info), or if you can cross the border to take lessons, Buffalo Phil musicians. In terms of vibrato, see if this playlist has something that speaks to you for refining what you already have:

Good luck!

Edited: June 18, 2019, 8:35 PM · If you haven't already done so, you should probably talk to your current teacher about your concerns and your desire for a new teacher. She may be willing to refer you to a colleague.

In addition to the above suggestion of contacting members of the TSO, you could try contacting the faculty of the RCM Glenn Gould School and/or Taylor Academy in Toronto or the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. You're equidistant to Rochester and Toronto, so you could also try contacting the faculty of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

In terms of finding a local teacher, you could try the members of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra or contact the people at the St. Catherine's Kiwanis Festival. They would know who the winners' teachers are for the past few years. Good luck!

Edited: June 28, 2019, 3:19 PM · May I quote from two old posts of mine..

Learning vibrato.

To start with, I teach a forearm movement, but with a flexible wrist and fingers: the elbow leads the wrist which leads the knuckles which lead the fingertips. Visually, the effect is rather like an underwater plant, waving to and fro in a gentle current. As the motion speeds up, the hand vibrates a little more than the forearm, but something is still happening in the elbow. The fingers stay slightly passive, but tonic enough not to slip.

My "underwater plant" motion is mainly to find that subtle synthesis of tonus and flexibilty. For a faster, maybe narrower vibrato, my "plant" get a little stiffer, but only just enough.

I have never practiced a "finger" vibrato as such, so I am still learning! But in the highest postions, when the whole hand is leaning over the violin's shoulder, my vibrato is more vertical than along-the-string; up there it has to be narrower anyway.

Depending on the student, the weather etc, I find I can choose between an "analytical approach", mastering individual elements separately before combining them; and progressvely refining global movements in a "combo" (Gestalt?) approach.

I hasten to add that my wave-motions are done without the bow to begin with!

I have had a few students who have found a beautiful vibrato on their own: my approach tries to give the others this possibility.

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

I'll try to describe briefly what I do:
- Pressure Zero. One finger on each string; minimal or no contact between the base of the index and the neck; no pressure; a gentle back & forth shifting/sliding motion.
- Pressure No 1. Slight finger pressure with equally slight thumb counter-pressure; the strings descend halfway to the fingerboard. .
- Pressure No 2, a little more pressure; the strings arrive on the fingerboard, the fingertips drag more on the strings; as the forearm approaches, the hand leans back and the fingers curl; as the forearm recedes, the hand leans forewards and the fingers stretch.
- Pressure No 3, only just enough to stop the fingertips sliding; the complex motions of Pressure No 2 have become a combined arm & hand vibrato, with equal pressure from all 4 flexible fingers.
The only risk is increasing the finger pressure (and thumb counter-pressure) to Nos 4,5,6 etc without realising.

Excess tension, e.g. from the middle finger, or from the thumb, will block the wrist and stiffen the whole process.

It usually works!
Hope this is comprehensible...

June 30, 2019, 6:48 PM · This is way above my pay-grade violin-wise, but I will make one suggestion which is to work on this aspect of your playing with simple repertoire that will allow you to concentrate 90% of your mental bandwidth on the vibrato issue. Not your latest high-octane concerto movement.

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