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I'm surprised that such a respected player and teacher was so anti-vibrato
It's a rather long read
Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 Topic Rating: 4.5 (8 votes) 
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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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September 18, 2014 - 8:15 pm
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I was a little suprised when I read this. But I have to admit that I agree with some of the points.

Leopold Auer on Violin Vibrato

The purpose of the vibrato, the wavering effect of tone secured by rapid oscillation of a finger on the string which it stops, is to lend more expressive quality to a musical phrase, and even to a single note of a phrase. Like the portamento, the vibrato is primarily a means used to heighten effect, to embellish and beautify a singing passageor tone. Unfortunately, both singers and players of string instruments frequently abuse this effect just as they do the portamento, and by doing so they have called into being a plague of the most inartistic nature, one to which ninety out of every hundred vocal and instrumental soloists fall victim.
Some of the performers who habitually make use of the vibrato are under the impression that they are making their playing more effective, and some of them find the vibrato a very convenient device for hiding bad intonation or bad tone production. But such an artifice is worse than useless. That student is wise who listens intelligently to his own playing, admits to himself that his intonation or tone production is bad, and then undertakes to improve it. Resorting to the vibrato in an ostrich-like endeavour to conceal bad tone production and intonation from oneself and from others not only halts progress in the improvement of one's fault, but is out and out dishonest artistically.

But the other class of violinists who habitually make use of the device—those who are convinced that an eternal vibrato is the secret of soulful playing, of piquancy in performance—are pitifully misguided in their belief. In some cases, no doubt, they are, perhaps against their own better instincts, conscientiously carrying out the instructions of unmusical teachers. But their own musical values ought to tell them how false is the notion that vibration, whether in good or bad taste, adds spice and piquancy to their playing …

With certain violinists, this undue and painful vibrato is represented by a slow and continuous oscillation of the hand and all the fingers as well, even those fingers which may be unoccupied for the time being. But this curious habit of oscillating and vibrating on each and every tone amounts to an actual physical defect, whose existence those who are cursed with it do not in most cases even suspect. The source of this physical evil generally may be traced to a group of sick or ailing nerves, hitherto undiscovered. And this belief of mine is based on the fact that I cannot otherwise account for certain pupils of mine, who in spiteof their earnest determination to the contrary, have been unable to rid themselves of this vicious habit, and have even continued to vibrate on every note, long or short, playing even the the driest scale passages and exercises in constant vibrato.

There is only one remedy which may be depended upon to counteract this ailing nervous condition, vicious habit, or lack of good taste—and that is to deny oneself the use of the vibrato altogether. Observe and follow your playing with all the mental concentration at your disposal. As soon as you notice the slightest vibration of hand or finger, stop playing, rest for a few minutes, and then begin once more, continuing to observe yourself. For weeks and months you must continually guard yourself in this fashion until you are confident that you have mastered your vibrato absolutely, that it is entirely within your control.

… As a rule I forbid my students using the vibrato at all on notes which are not sustained, and I earnestly advise them not to abuse it even in the case of sustained notes which succeed each other in a phrase.

Leopold Auer
Violin Playing as I Teach It
Lippincott, New York, 1960
pp 22-24

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Uzi
Georgia
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September 18, 2014 - 9:32 pm
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I don't think he's against vibrato. I think he was just against too much vibrato used for the wrong reasons, in the wrong places.  I think his (partly tongue in cheek) message was that Vibrato is like a spice, it can add interest to an otherwise bland dish, just don't over do it or it becomes inedible. 

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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ozmous
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September 18, 2014 - 9:43 pm
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Most of his students (that I've listened to) have the most wonderful vibrato, Heifetz in particular.

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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September 18, 2014 - 10:59 pm
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 I just found that darned interesting. Thank you John.

And I am guilty that there have been times I wanted to vibrate to sound better without actually getting better technically.. (like yesterday..) ha ha.

I am not a fan of that kind of dogmatic speech in teaching.. but I have to admit my own truth.... almost three years later my vibrato does not add to my  playing as I don't do it correctly.. but I have learned that a straighter bow.. relaxed bowing hand  has done more for me than my flimsey vibrato...

And I love love love vibrato.. a kind of vibrato junky if you will... but I have seen it done so well and so discreet and so wonderful.. my teacher once told me..  "it is a very natural thing.."  She of course would not even discuss it with me as a new student...

and now I understand why.

John.. I love this post.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Tucson1
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September 19, 2014 - 4:17 pm
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Uzi said
I don't think he's against vibrato. I think he was just against too much vibrato used for the wrong reasons, in the wrong places.  I think his (partly tongue in cheek) message was that Vibrato is like a spice, it can add interest to an otherwise bland dish, just don't over do it or it becomes inedible. 

Yep , Uzi ...yer on it 100% ...violin-1267Have fun   Be happy

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Crazymotive
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September 19, 2014 - 5:01 pm
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I agree 100% with his points. basically when you use the vibrato you are "decorating" the note(s) you are playing.  That is fine and can add warmth, expression and emotion to a sound. But there is such a thing as "overly-decorating". Vibrato can be over used. It can also be used as a poor attempt to cover for poor intonation. Learning to play nice clean notes with good intonation should come first and foremost. decorating them with vibrato should come later and should not be over-used.

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Ferret
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September 24, 2014 - 8:31 am
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@Crazymotive 

exactly

I totally agree. :)

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Schaick
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September 25, 2014 - 7:33 pm
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Great article!  Thanks for posting it!! I have actually not permitted to let myself even think of trying vibrato.  

My first priority - "Learning to play nice clean notes with good intonation should come first and foremost ."

I have way too much to perfect before I add the pinch of spice!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 26, 2014 - 1:21 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Too much vibrato is like too much spice.
Not only should we limit our vibrato from time to time but vary it as well. Vibrato is just one of the many ways of enhancing music and if you use it too much, the same way, just as intensively throughout a performance, it doesn't seem as special. It's a good practice to not only vibrate but to change the intensity, width and speed for more control.

Also, we are all very different from one another. There are houses in my area that are painted with such strong colors that I cringe when driving by them but I am sure that some people love those colors.

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

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