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Violin Vibrato-Movement
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iDrayne
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February 22, 2017 - 11:43 am
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Hello people.

So i would like to adress my problem, wich i have since like 7-9 months now...and it is really annoying. My problem is, simple and straight: My violin moves/shakes whenever i try to vibrate faster than a exaggerated slow-practice-Vibrato. It also starts to move when i get faster just for a tiny bit, especially on the A and E String. The strange thing is that, while i have the same problems on all 4 fingers, the first finger is literally the worst. I would say the easiest to vibrate on is the fourth finger for me. Then comes third, then second and, as i said, the first being the worst.

I would say that it is not bad, but the real problem is that im not able to play a long note while vibrating without my bow bouncing due to the moving violin, same for piano-passages. This is really starting to get annoying, like i often have myself at the 0-motivation point because without vibrato im not able to get rid of this beginner-sound (in my opinion).

I am learning the four seasons & it is just not nice without vibrato. I mean of course i practice without vibrato for intonation (fast passages & higher positions), but i just cant play long notes with vibrato. Im liteally always feared, whenever i should vibrate, that my violin shakes, of course everything is even worse then.

I tried everything, ive been at my mirror so many times checking for something wrong, but i cant see anything wrong. My wrist is straight, my thumb is not pressing much, there is no pressure between my index finger and the instrument, i tried lowering my finger-pressure and vise versa, i tried putting a cloth on the wall and then my instrument (but i dont think that will ever solve the problem, i mean i can practice very slow without the wall and its fine), i've doublechecked my bow-hold and movement, i checked if my fingers are stiff but they arent. ...and my teacher says the movement and the hold is very good. But obviously something's not quite right when it makes my instrument move. 

Also what i noticed: The movement is at its maximum in first and second position, meaning that from third to 7th position its still there, but MUCH better than in first. And also: Strangely, The movement is from left to right/right to left.

Please help me fix this problem. Ive been doing everything possible but nothing is working. If it is REALLY necessary i will post a video/pictures of my vibrato.

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Dan-Hur
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February 22, 2017 - 12:20 pm
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I understand where you're coming from, but remember that there is a whole class of musicians who avoid excessive vibrato. It sounds to me like your grip might be too tight or your not moving with a smooth, even motion as you're oscillating, but it's tough to say without seeing it. If at all possible, I would suggest posting a video so we can get a clear picture of what is happening. Are you using wrist or arm vibrato?

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Uzi
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February 22, 2017 - 2:17 pm
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It may be that your trying to cure a non-existent problem.  The neck is definitely going to move around when you vibrate.  If it's moving so much that it makes your bow bounce, you might simply be overdoing it.  Watch the first 20 seconds of this video and you will see the neck move just as you describe. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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iDrayne
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February 22, 2017 - 3:20 pm
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When i vibrate, i see my thumb pushing my violin to the right, i have no idea why. I often find my violin being more to the right where its used to be, and when i see that my violin is more at the right, i often release my hand and then my violin goes back to its normal position (more to the left). The distance it "travels", is like 1-2 centimeters, but when it does, my thumb-pressure is hightened. I dont know if thats the cause but i noticed this some hours ago.

I use arm vibrato. To be honest, when i use wrist-vibrato, the movement is everywhere, so its really hard for me to vibrate with my wrist sadly. Anyways i started learning arm-vibrato first so i might be used to arm instead of wrist.

Yes i see that the answer of this problem would be a video, it'll come soon.

Also i noticed that when i vibrate faster, the direction of my arm (normal vibrato follows the fingerboard-direction i guess) changes.

To the video: thats where i thought "Oh wow its moving exactly like my violin." but i often ask myself how others vibrate without even a slight movement. I mean my teacher said that a bit of movement is more than normal, there cant be no movement at all, yet i ask myself how people vibrate with no movement at all...and thats my goal to be exactly, because in piano-passages & very slow passages i want to add a faster narrow vibrato, but yeah...if i try..

I forgot to mention that the bow only shakes when im like -after the middle-zone and at the frog- part of the bow. The frog-part is the worst, thats what really annoys me everytime..

 

Another Edit: I tried to change the direction now, i kinda "forced" the movement being in the same direction as my fingerboard is. Its working, but the feeling is really awkward...is this normal? did i learn something wrong?

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Charles
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February 23, 2017 - 8:51 am
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iDrayne said

Another Edit: I tried to change the direction now, i kinda "forced" the movement being in the same direction as my fingerboard is. Its working, but the feeling is really awkward...is this normal? did i learn something wrong?  

First off, I'm a beginner and I haven't done anything but some preliminary exercises which are supposed to eventually help with vibrato. I may, therefore, not know what I'm talking about.

From your description of the symptoms, I'd say yes - it is awkward and you might have learned something wrong.  You're supposed to move your hand (or arm) along the same line as the fingerboard, and it is quite awkward. It's a motion that you don't make doing any other activity that I know of. That means that initially, you're going to be weak, tire very easily doing that motion, and, especially, slow.

Your brain has to learn to fire all the hundreds of muscle fibers in the right order for that to be a smooth, fast motion.  Until it sorts that out, it's going to be slower than what you want, because half the time one muscle is fighting with another.  So I suspect that the "forcing it to be in the same direction as the fingerboard" is exactly what you need, but it's going to set you back initially while your hand/brain learn how to make that motion "naturally".

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iDrayne
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February 26, 2017 - 4:26 pm
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Thanks Charles for your answer.

I now practided a few times to follow the finger-board-line while vibrating, and its working. I mean its not a fast-consistent vibrato yet, but the violin does not shake anymore except when im playing/vibrating on the E-String. Is there a particular reason for the E-String being the "hardest" to vibrate? I mean i follow the fingerboard but my violin still moves from left to right. On higher positions its better but first and second position...it's just horrific. Most problematic thing: You here the bow-bounces more on the E-String...:/

 

is some kind of movement normal? I mean its very difficult for me to not move my violin while vibrating. But i just cant get over the No-Movement-Vibrato from others 🙁

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Fiddlerman
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February 27, 2017 - 11:48 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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A little movement is OK on the neck unless you don't want it. If it affects the bow in a negative way, sounding uneven in a bad way, hard to control, then it's not good. I let the neck move as long as I'm happy with the sound.
I can if I want, keep the neck still but it requires a bit more tension which is something I try to avoid.
Sometimes, the movement of the neck contributes to a type of bow vibrato which can be quite pleasant sounding.
That being said, try practicing vibrato with your scroll against something to stabilize it just enough to get used to the feeling.

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

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iDrayne
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February 28, 2017 - 4:52 pm
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Fiddlerman said
A little movement is OK on the neck unless you don't want it. If it affects the bow in a negative way, sounding uneven in a bad way, hard to control, then it's not good. I let the neck move as long as I'm happy with the sound.
I can if I want, keep the neck still but it requires a bit more tension which is something I try to avoid.
Sometimes, the movement of the neck contributes to a type of bow vibrato which can be quite pleasant sounding.
That being said, try practicing vibrato with your scroll against something to stabilize it just enough to get used to the feeling.  

Thanks Fiddlerman for your answer!

Okay so i would say too that a bit of movement is okay and pretty normal, and i see it even on the best violinists like David Garrett or Julia Fischer. Of course, not as bad as mine but...i guess the longer you play the better you perform.

Anyways my biggest thought is that i learned something completly wrong. I mean i even see that while i practice at a low speed, when i get faster, for like 1-2 seconds its all fine, but then the bad movement comes and it all seems "uncontrolable". In these days the controlable Movement stays longer due to me practicing every day.

I have one big question: Is pain when practicing Vibrato on the G-String normal? Its like a real pain in my biceps, its really bad - so bad that i have to stop practice. How can i stop this? I tried raising my Arm or like bringing it under my violin but that makes all worse. 🙁

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Charles
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March 1, 2017 - 9:59 am
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Caveat: I haven't even started on vibrato myself yet, let alone mastered it. I may not have the faintest idea what I'm talking about. 🙂

Re the E string, my best guess as to why that would be harder to keep clean is that you have less to index with. On the lower strings, you generally have part of your hand touching the instrument, which helps you orient your hand (and thus your hand pressure) correctly.

Another issue is that the E is further from the center. This means that pressure on it is more likely to tilt the violin down on that side a bit, which changes a straight-down pressure into a sideways one. It's a small effect, but since you're already fighting issues with going sideways, it just makes them that much harder. I'd slow it down even more and concentrate on getting purely up and down the string.  From the sound of it, you're correcting your problems quickly - this probably won't add more than a week to that string.

Since your chin/jaw, finger, and the violin comprise a lever system, and vibrato means you're moving where the finger is, it'd be very hard to eliminate all motion in all axes. You could try to press down with your jaw at the same speed you're vibrating, or put your thumb opposite it and press up a little when you pull your finger back, but I'm not sure the first one's even possible, and I'm fairly sure both are bad ideas. (Lots of tension, for one thing.)

I'd say a slight motion up and down is normal. A slight motion toward and away from your neck would also be normal. The side to side stuff is what you want to minimize.

Re the issues with the G: From the sound of it, you're asking muscles and tendons to go places they're not used to. If you are patient and give them time to adapt, it will get less and less painful.  Don't push it too fast, though. You can give yourself permanent injuries that way, which would either make that technique impossible, or always painful. I'd practice it until there's a mild amount of pain, then take a break - do other things for a while. Keep track of how long you can go before it gets to that level. If it's (fairly) steadily increasing, you're on the right track, and time will solve the problem completely.

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Fiddlerman
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March 2, 2017 - 8:34 pm
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Not good that it's painful and I would not say normal either.
I would not take it so far that you can't play before resting your arm.
Rest it more often. Play shorter periods of vibrato on the G string until it's comfortable.
If you want more help, please record a video of what you are doing to that we may analyze it better.

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

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Jim Dunleavy
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March 3, 2017 - 6:45 am
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I spent a long time trying to improve the ease of my vibrato, without a great deal of success.

I decided to research variations on left hand position around the neck and eventually slightly modified how I hold the fiddle there. I have biggish hands, and in particular found Itzhak Perlman's hold useful as a study - basically it taught me that the only real rule is to get your hand in a comfortable position before you do anything else!

I now hold the neck more into my hand - in other words, the neck goes further down the gap between my thumb and base of first finger. In particular my thumb is less 'behind' the neck now and more to the side. Not only has this reduced discomfort when playing on the E string (in particular), it's also made it easier to reach all the notes and has improved my vibrato beyond recognition (though I still struggle to switch it on while playing my usual pieces it's fine on scales and simple tunes).

So to summarise all of that waffle, check your left hand position against good players with a similar hand size/shape to yourself.

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Fiddlerman
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March 3, 2017 - 8:26 am
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Yes, comfort is a big key!

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

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