Tips and exercises for vibrato?
Hi: I'd like to get some additional tips for my vibrato learning and practice.
My teacher is teaching me how to do arm vibrato. He always teaches it first and only moves on to "wrist usage" with more advanced students once their arm vibrato is sound and secure. So all of my vibrato learning process and struggles refer to arm vibrato.
I can do a good slow to moderate paced vibrato movement with my fingers over the strings without using my bow. My teacher says my form is generally good and my wrist is mostly relaxed. I also feel that I'm making enough pressure to "stop" the string.
But the problems come when I introduce the bow. If I try to relax my vibrato arm, I stop pressing with the bow and the sound cracks. If I try to press with the bow, my left arm tends to get more and more tense until I just can't vibrate. And if I try to lessen the bow pressure a little bit and use more bow speed, my vibrato starts getting fast and irregular, my left arm and left hand get tense, and I also reach a point in which I just can't vibrate anymore.
My teacher says that in my case, there's almost no point in practicing vibrato without using the bow, since I know how to do it. He also says it's a coordination issue that will probably solve itself over time and practice.
What kind of tips can you give me and what kind of exercises would you suggest me to help me solve this problem? Also, do you know of any exercise that can be performed silently at late hours after work?
Thank you very much.
May I quote from myself?!
My teacher always teaches wrist first, and then he adds arm vibrato later. So I don't think my advice will be of much use to you.
I was told that learning vibrato is a slow process when I started on it. I'd recommend to practice it often but in small doses. Have patience and I am almost certain your teacher is correct and the problem will resolve itself. it is amazing how many of my violin-technique-problems solve themselves at the end without me knowing exactly how and why.
Sounds like it is mainly a coordination issue to me. Try long bows - tip to frog - with a metronome at 60 or so. On the third beat, vibrate then stop on the fourth beat. Start slow with one iteration, then two, then three and so on until you get a smooth vibrato. If it gets out of control, backup. Remember to keep a steady bow speed and pressure. This is much like the exercise of fingering a passage on one string while bowing another. It can be hard to build that independance.
do you have Basics by Simon Fischer? a good book to have anyway, and, it has an entire chapter on vibrato tips and exercises (what you are asking for here).
Miguel, I had the same problem. Your teacher is right, over time the issue solved itself. But be patient, to disappear it probably took two years. For me it was useful to listen to great singers like Christian Gerhaher and to try to imitate their tone and vibrato. Perhaps, that just kept me focused, engaged and inspired to not loose my patience.
Thank you everyone for your tips and suggestions.
I think Adrian's suggestions are spot on. I often ask my students to vibrate on one string while playing a different string with the bow. You can find a video here:
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