So, I have a vibrato which sort of works but I've never been happy with it as it either seems on or off (i.e. I don't seem to be able to modulate it in speed or width). Additionally, I find it hard to play vibrato when playing piano and quieter without having the bow bounce on the strings, especially when I'm in the bottom half of the bow nearer the frog. In these circumstances, my finger, while vibrating, is causing the whole of my violin to move around, hence causing the bow bounce.
I clearly have a problem with technique here. Any ideas about what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it?
Vibrato is such an individual problem that it really just comes down to experimenting and finding what works best for your hand. And like everything else, it won't come without practise. But just remember that it should feel next to effortless. At the moment, it would seem like you are making too much motion, and a large portion of your effort is just going into moving the instrument rather than your fingertip.
Get the book "Basics" by Simon Fischer. It has an entire chapter on vibrato, the what, the why, the how, the where, etc.
here some of the vids I've been watching (they've all appeared at v.com one time or another):
Whether we use a shoulder rest or not, there should be no pressure of the violin neck against the base of the index finger: a feather-light contact or none at all. The thumb should take the load.
Alun, what you're experiencing with your violin wiggling around while trying to play vibrato with your bow at the frog and playing softly is a perpetual problem that all violinists have to deal with. First of all you have to make sure your hand positions are correct -- that's essential.
Almost surely the described problem of the shaking violin is that the end joint of the finger is not loose enough. Look up Rivarde exercise. But really vibrato, and more generally, left-hand positioning and suppleness, is a subtle subject, either get the book mentioned above or get a good teacher. Another book worth mentioning is "The Violin Lesson" by the same Simon Fischer which devotes a lot of space to left-hand position and suppleness.
Many thanks for people's input. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who has this problem bowing quietly in the bottom half of the bow. I shall certainly have a look at Simon Fischer's books.
I really doubt that Basics would be much use to a self-teaching student. I agree with getting a good teacher. Alun, don't practice in a bunch of bad habits that you will have to then undo with a teacher.