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Still working on that vibrato...
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Violinist_Violinist
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January 25, 2013 - 1:35 am
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Hey guys,

 

I started playing violin about 9 years ago.  I took formal lessons for 5 1/2 years, but having switched instructors twice, I never got to learn much about vibrato.  Lately, I joined a small orchestra that meets every week.  Nobody has really noticed, but my hand vibrato is really bad.  I got into the habit of just stiffening my finger rapidly to make a vibrato sound, but I would really love to develop the technique of a solid hand vibrato (eventually working up to arm perhaps).

I've watched fiddlerman's videos, and a lot of other videos from a bunch of other reputable instructors, but I just can't seem to figure out if my posture is correct for a good vibrato.  I know a good vibrato can take months to develop, and I can tell that I can move my second and third fingers a lot more rapidly, but I'm not sure I'm doing everything correctly.

I was just wondering how you guys learned good vibrato.

 

Thanks!

Vionlinist_Violinist

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ozmous
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January 25, 2013 - 6:02 am
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i learned how to do vibrato the 2nd week i learned to play the violin, you just need to really relax! i use a finger vibrato which was used by Jascha Heifetz, it's easier, and doesn't really move the violin much.

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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Violinist_Violinist
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January 25, 2013 - 5:38 pm
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Wow, you learned it in two weeks?  After playing incorrectly for so long, it's pretty difficult for me to not tighten up my finger joints whenever I want to make a vibrato sound.

I would like to develop a good finger vibrato, but I'd really like to get a good wrist vibrato first.

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Kevin M.
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January 25, 2013 - 5:55 pm
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I would like to have fingers that move but I don't so I try vibrato from time to time and I don't fret over not being able do it.

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Tyberius
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January 25, 2013 - 10:26 pm
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@ kevin

Amen brother!!!

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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ftufc
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January 28, 2013 - 7:12 pm
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This is, without a doubt, the best vibrato instruction I've ever seen.  I personally don't spend any time working on vibrato yet because I'm very focused on several other aspects of playing that are much more important to me. 

However, this video demonstrates, in a great format, techniques to successful vibrato that another great violin teacher taught me, and in 15 minutes had me performing a very respectable vibrato.

Hope you find it as useful as I did. 

 

 

 

 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 28, 2013 - 9:14 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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How about posting a video V_V so that we can give some suggestions. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Violinist_Violinist
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January 29, 2013 - 1:48 am
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I have been extremely busy lately, but I can probably find the time to upload a video on it.  I appreciate you linking the video, ftufc.  I've studied that video and several others very intently, but I still haven't been able to figure out exactly what I'm doing wrong.

I'll try to upload a video in the next couple days.  Thanks guys!

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VinceKnight
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January 29, 2013 - 2:58 pm
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The biggest problem I am running into with Vibrato is 1st finger 1st position on the A string (Highest string on a viola).  my hand keeps running into the Tuning peg even with my wrist down and my arm under the instrument :)

 

-Dennis

The pack depends upon the wolf, and the wolf depends upon the pack. The loss of one means the destruction of the other.

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ftufc
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January 29, 2013 - 8:54 pm
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Dennis, you might have to adjust your "A" string peg so that the peg tab is straight up and down (by adjusting how far into the peg hole you feed the string); it'll give you about another 3/8" of room.  I had to do that to each of my violins to get "E#"; the peg tab kept stopping my finger from reaching that position.

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Composer
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February 1, 2013 - 3:41 pm
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The video presents the same old naive garbage of the *key* obstacles to vibrato being freedom of motion and joint flexibility in the left hand/fingers.  You can easily discredit this theory simply by producing the said conditions without the bow and then as soon as you try to integrate it with the bow, the hand locks up.  How come?  The freedom of motion and flexibility is there so why doesn't it automatically work without difficulty? 

Beth is not instructing, she is simply presenting a final product, continuous vibrato, which anyways is too advanced for the email complaints she receives.  She presents no pathway to vibrato, in terms of stages of development.  No list of dependencies or notated exercises.  Its all very trivial and of course it simply doesn't work that way.

 

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ftufc
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February 1, 2013 - 7:20 pm
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Haaaaa; yeah, it actually did work that way for me Composer, as rudimentary as my vibrato skills are, her techniques actually helped me a lot; hey I wonder if her video is merely a placebo?

Anyway, don't you believe, if I'm correctly remembering your earlier posts, that vibrato is just so much garbage added to cover up poor playing, lmao.

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cdennyb
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February 1, 2013 - 9:57 pm
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ftufc said
Haaaaa; yeah, it actually did work that way for me Composer, as rudimentary as my vibrato skills are, her techniques actually helped me a lot; hey I wonder if her video is merely a placebo?

Anyway, don't you believe, if I'm correctly remembering your earlier posts, that vibrato is just so much garbage added to cover up poor playing, lmao.

 

ROTFLMAO, you are so accurate Fred... you crack me up... good one mr historian.cheers

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlerman
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February 1, 2013 - 10:26 pm
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VERY good point about the peg Fred. I do the same thing on my violin and the E string.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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soma5
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February 2, 2013 - 4:09 pm
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Composer said
The video presents the same old naive garbage of the *key* obstacles to vibrato being freedom of motion and joint flexibility in the left hand/fingers.  You can easily discredit this theory simply by producing the said conditions without the bow and then as soon as you try to integrate it with the bow, the hand locks up.  How come?  The freedom of motion and flexibility is there so why doesn't it automatically work without difficulty? 

Beth is not instructing, she is simply presenting a final product, continuous vibrato, which anyways is too advanced for the email complaints she receives.  She presents no pathway to vibrato, in terms of stages of development.  No list of dependencies or notated exercises.  Its all very trivial and of course it simply doesn't work that way.

 

I think that maybe I can help clarify here.  Do you remember that game we used to play when we were kids, where we tried to rub our tummies and pat our heads at the same time?  Neither action is difficult on its own but the combination is certainly more difficult.  You have to be able to do each action separately and easily before you can do them together, of course.  Neither action is anywhere near as difficult as fingering or bowing a violin.  For me, having played fairly proficiently decades ago, it still took me months of fairly intense practice to be able to play vibrato, finger notes and control my bowing together.  Each one came back fairly quickly but the combination...  Even now, when I sight-read, my bowing gets sloppy.  Too many things to concentrate on at once.  Those things have to get automatic, and that comes with many hours on the instrument.  Teaching like Beth Blackerby does is in fact effective, but the student has to also put in the effort and time.  Sometimes it takes quite a bit of time.

Another factor that could be weighing in (and it could be the same thing or related, I don't know) is that when you have tension on one side of your body, the other side also tenses up.  My teacher tells me that this is very common.  If you have tension in your bowing, your left hand will also tense up.

Anyhow, I think that the video certainly does have value.  It really is instructive to see the final product.  It's just not very easy to do many things at once, and that is one of the big devils that lurks in the playing of the violin.  For that, the cure is many hours of playing to reduce the necessity to think about the motions.

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Picklefish
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February 2, 2013 - 9:51 pm
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Composer, dude......major buzz kill! lol.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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screeeech
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February 3, 2013 - 12:02 am
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I am starting to get  the impression its also has to do with building the muscles to get the wrist moving correctly. As its not like anything else I do at all. 

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ratvn
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February 3, 2013 - 2:30 am
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soma5 said

 that when you have tension on one side of your body, the other side also tenses up.  My teacher tells me that this is very common.  If you have tension in your bowing, your left hand will also tense up.

Thank you, soma5, for the tip. It's tensed up all the time and I thought that just trying to relax my left hand first then worry about the other side later, but that doesn't work at all. After trying your tip, it's improving.

Thanks again.

thumbs-up

Composer said
Its all very trivial and of course it simply doesn't work that way.

It does work for me and other mentioned poster.

The video is very valuable and informative. I think it's either too basic for you that is not worth mentioning or too advance that you don't get it.

dazed

 

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Composer
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February 3, 2013 - 10:05 pm
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soma5, tension (along with flexibility) is just another undefined word.  The solution to tension, is another undefined word 'relax'.  Its like taking a placebo for a medical condition.

I also think a lot of people who believe they have a functional vibrato in fact have an irregular vibrato whereby the elements (amplitude and speed) do not exhibit regularity.  This is seen most vividly (vibrato stops completely for a split second) seen at the change of bow.

Practicing longer is another cure-all that I find unacceptable.  After all, we adults just can't economically justify full-time study of the violin.  I'm already attending the University of Hard Knocks for Violin and my patience is wearing thin.

Unfortunately, Miss Beth does not address the core issue:  independent control of two cyclical movements of differing frequencies and amplitudes.  Or as they say in Layman, its a juggling act.  99% of the people who watch this video will misdiagnose the problem as screeeech does:  "building the muscles to get the wrist moving correctly".  Or to put it another way, a little motor must exist in the hand.  To me, this just ends up increasing the mystical tension which makes the problem worse.

Personally, my take on vibrato is that its a problem of activating the correct *groups* of nerves throughout the entire arm.  If you try to search for the source of the motor in vibrato, you just end up increasing tension by activating the wrong nerves (which is how I define tension) However, obviously, its impossible to consciously activate the right nerves (as if we knew which ones in the first place which we dont) and as I said before relaxing adds nothing to the picture, so what to do?

Well, commonsense must rule.  For starters, a good amount of dexterity is required for a juggling act.  For the violin, a correct static hold of the instrument is not enough.  Short shifting (eg a semitone scale on one string) is obviously an act that requires considerably more dexterity in handling the instrument.  This post is already too long so I will stop here.

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TerryT
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February 4, 2013 - 12:27 pm
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Composer-San
Please define "undefined"

I found the below statement and now find myself tense and unable to relax after finding a definition of the undefined word "tension"

ten·sion  (tnshn)
n.
1.
a. The act or process of stretching something tight.
b. The condition of so being stretched; tautness.
2.
a. A force tending to stretch or elongate something.
b. A measure of such a force: a tension on the cable of 50 pounds.
3.
a. Mental, emotional, or nervous strain: working under great tension to make a deadline.
b. Barely controlled hostility or a strained relationship between people or groups: the dangerous tension between opposing military powers.
4. A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements: "the continuing, and essential, tension between two of the three branches of government, judicial and legislative" (Haynes Johnson).
5. The interplay of conflicting elements in a piece of literature, especially a poem.
6. A device for regulating tautness, especially a device that controls the tautness of thread on a sewing machine or loom.
7. Electricity Voltage or potential; electromotive force.
tr.v. ten·sioned, ten·sion·ing, ten·sions
To subject to tension; tighten.
[Latin tnsi, tnsin-, a stretching out, from tnsus, past participle of tendere, to stretch; see tense1.]
tension·al adj.

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