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Vibrato Discussion
I am learning vibrato on cello. I have read other mentions of vibrato here and decided to start a thread. Since it is applicable to violin/viola/cello, I did it here. The cello, obviously is held differently, and may be done a tad differently, but other aspects may be the same.
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cid
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So, I am beginning vibrato in my cello, HOORAY! I am finding it quite difficult. I was able to do it in my lesson kinda good at a slow pace, which is all I expect for quite a while. When I got home, poof, out the window. I am always intimidated by new things that I have a preconception about; vibrato is hard, is my preconseption. It is, but when I think it about it, I think no way I can do it, no way I would ever be able to do it quickly, no way I will ever be able to relax my arm from my shoulder to my finger tips. I think that is one of the keys. My instructor is very relaxed when he does it, and was telling me to do the same, “just relax and go slow”. I think about it too much when I do it.

I know that thinking that prevents me. I always have to jump that hurdle before I can really take off. If I could just get beyond that hurdle to the point where I am semi-consistent in being able to do it slow, and do it relaxed, the hurdle will be defeated. “High Hopes” by Frank Sinatra is one of my favorite songs and does inspire. Maybe thinking about that little ant and goat. 

There are so many songs that I am doing that are crying out for vibrato and I think that is what is bugging me, too. In a little while I will be getting out my cello. After a warm up, I will practice my slow vibrato on the A string. I think that this time I will use a heating pad on my arm and shoulders first. I was busy this morning reorganizing so the my husband will not be able to find anything, kidding! I needed to do it, but that will be the result. 😂 In theory, the heating lad should loosen up my joints after all the moving things and reaching. We will see.

Does anyone else have any questions about vibrato on any of these instruments? Might help if you state your instrument. Does anyone have any suggestions to people? I have watched and watched videos. Quite honestly, they do not help. It just makes me know how fast it is and then the hurdle gets higher. I have stopped watching the videos. They do not tend to deal with the issues and hurdles people learning vibrato face. The videos just tend to the simplistic. They tell you to just do this and that and then they produce a lovely vibrato.

It would be nice to see a video of an experienced vibrato-ist (new word, call Webster) show how a beginner struggles. Does it the way the beginner usually does it and struggles. That vibrato-ist had to learn too. Show how (s)he progressed slowly. Then show the good vibrato. Know what I mean? It doesn’t help me to see the end result of beautiful vibrato. I want to see the fingers/wrist/arm movements progress to get to that lovely vibrato. Not distant shots where you just hear the bad vibrato, close up shots of the actions as they progress from beginner vibrato issues to lovely vibrato. How did that vibrato-ist reach that apex of a lovely vibrato? What did that vibrato-ist do to reach that point? What hurdles did that vibrato-ist have to jump?

I did find out what the app is my instructor used with me. I downloaded it yesterday and will use it today,

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Fiddlerman
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August 17, 2019 - 11:27 am
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Good points @cid

I'm sure you'll find the feeling again since you were able to do it slowly with the instructor.
Hopefully you'll find that magic video and figure it out quickly. Smooth vibrato takes time. The more you do it the more it will come naturally. Patience really is a virtue.😁

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HP
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The tips I found most useful when starting out my vibrato journey on violin were these:

Make sure there's a gap between the neck of the violin and the hand. It's pretty much impossible to do a vibrato with the side of the finger glued to the neck.

Find a comfortable thumb position that doesn't create tension. This depends on the size of your hand and shape. The thumb position might vary depending on what finger you are going to vibrate on.

Lastly, start out slowly with a metronome and gradually speed up. This is probably the best one for me, because suddenly it just clicked.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
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Thanks @HP. Similar to cello there. I have thumb positioning issues. I am working on it. Proper form on my first go round with cello and violin did not deal much with proper posture, hold, fingering, etc. Kinds is no surprise, same teacher at that point. Mentioned here only so people know that if it is not done by your instructor and you can’t get another, search and find info and figure it out. You need it as you progress. Live and learn. 

My thumb seems to have contact cement on it. I am slowly removing it.

I used a heating pad on left shoulder, arm, wrist and fingers before starting cello yesterday. I seemed to be a lot more relaxed. I also had the Vocal Pitch Monitor App helping with my vibrato practice. I had a fairly productive vibrato session. Slow, but it is going to be a long time to speed it up. 

I have not done it on violin. I think the finger movement will be a tad different. Different angles of the entire arm and instrument. The same finger movement on the cello string for it is not possible on my violin string, at least by me. I gave it a whirl, just to see. I am not ready for vibrato on violin yet. It was interesting to note.

I did do a slow vibrato in places in some of my songs on cello that need it. Yep, even slow bad vibrato helped. I had issues before the vibrato and ending it to get to the next note. I will wIt until I am doing that in lessons now. I don’t want any bad habits forming.

I am thinking that I will give the heating pad another go again before practicing my cello  today. I want to see if it was a fluke. Has anyone else used a heating pad to “warm up”?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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It took me 6 months of daily practice to get oboe vibrato right, so I'm going to assume I'll need that much time on violin.

But I am cynical about the "finger, wrist and arm" business. Not that they exist, but clearly they need interpreting or being taught by a proper teacher, and I suspect they can mislead you about how to go about them. Clearly relaxation is important, and any interpretation of them that leads to stiffness is wrong. Keeping the entire arm rigid and vibrating from the elbow can't be good, and clearly a beginner is not going to go for finger vibrato.

My interpretation then is that the whole arm should be a relaxed elastic system with every joint flexing a little (in fact my teacher mentioned flexing the first tip of the fingers. Next time she tries that one, I'll have to warn her that she has to take my arthritis into account!). Then if you feel like partially stiffening the elbow or the wrist or the fingers, redistributing the elasticity differently over the whole arm, that's what I feel is in keeping with the general approach to technique that I have been taught since my first piano lesson in 1970 or whenever it was.

That's only my theory, but at least I expect to avoid injury if nothing else!

I have another theory that it might be better to listen to singers' vibrato than violinists' for style, which segues nicely into this: -

HP said
start out slowly with a metronome and gradually speed up. This is probably the best one for me, because suddenly it just clicked.  

This is a good suggestion, I think. I suspect there's too much overfast vibrato in the world. In addition to speeding up, make sure you can always do it slowly. Same goes for trills - some people's trills are too fast. These used to be known as "doorbell trills" or "electric bell trills".

Andrew

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HP
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cid said
I also had the Vocal Pitch Monitor App helping with my vibrato practice. I had a fairly productive vibrato session.

I think this might lead to a tight and narrow vibrato, which by itself isn't bad, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. There's different types of vibratos and you use them for different expressions in a piece. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
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My cello teacher pulled his phone out with that app when we started. Might be different with a violin. It helped me see exactly what the rocking was doing. I am very visual in learning. Later in my practice session yesterday, I found l could do it for a while without the app. But then I lost it when I went back to vibrato while playing. Turned on the app and got started again. Going to try it without the app, first, today. 

I was having issues getting my finger action going when I got home after that first lesson in vibrato on my cello. I didn’t know what that app was. Got some tips here and found one that helped with that. At this past week’s lesson, I found out what the app is and downloaded it. The up and down curves reminded me of the rocking finger. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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Gordon Shumway said

This is a good suggestion, I think. I suspect there's too much overfast vibrato in the world. In addition to speeding up, make sure you can always do it slowly. Same goes for trills - some people's trills are too fast. These used to be known as "doorbell trills" or "electric bell trills".

  

One thing I've often seen with self-taught string players and impatient beginners is what I've started calling a "twitch vibrato" -- an extremely fast, uncontrolled vibrato that trails off quickly because it simply can't be sustained. If you want to be able to continue vibrato until the end of a long note, there are no shortcuts: you have to learn to do it slowly. Eventually, you'll want to be able to vary the speed and width of your vibrato for musical expression.

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Fiddlerman
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August 19, 2019 - 10:32 am
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Interesting with an app cid.
I'll check it out.

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

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cid
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It makes me not go fast and to pay attention. His android version was free. Apple was 99 cents. That is about my limit on apps. 😁

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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x Coach
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My teacher does not do vibrato, learning on my own. I think it helps the overall sound but my neck hurts intensely after practicing it for 15 minutes. Is that because of my age and starting late (61). Or do the neck muscles over time, strengthen. Hoping for replies from Pierre and others.

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Fiddlerman
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@x Coach - First of all, tension. You tense up more when you do vibrato. Try to find a way not to do that.
Secondly, you are not used to it. 🙂 Perhaps your neck will strengthen but hopefully it won't be necessary when you loosen up.

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

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Pete_Violin
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@cid 

One of the most useful and well-explained videos on learning and developing vibrato is:

The trick to learning vibrato is slow vibrato... but pay attention to the video.  He explains how to gradually speed this up.

He has 3 exercises that specifically address consistency, smoothness, and even vibrato.

- Pete -

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@Pete_Violin, right now I am working on cello vibrato. Not doing it on my violin yet. The cello is a different movement, from what I can tell.

BUT, this is a fantastic video. I do recall seeing this back in the Fall when I purchase a violin. He has more than one video. I had them bookmarked with an old phone. Then I forgot all about his videos. He explains it so well. And he makes it make so much sense. Will have to do it again. Thanks for posting that. I really love his videos and everyone trying to learn vibrato should check this out.

I am going to check out that book. I think I checked out that book before, too.  Ever got it though. Not sure why. Will find out if it was too much money or what when I check.

I will be starting violin lessons again this week. Will be alternating hour long lessons every week between violin and cello. This week is violin. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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cid said
I think I checked out that book before, too.  Ever got it though. Not sure why.

  

23 pages and the only copy I can see on Amazon.co.uk is $60. However, you can buy it much cheaper if you go to Simonfischeronline.com

Andrew

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That was probably the issue.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Pete_Violin
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cid said
@Pete_Violin, right now I am working on cello vibrato. Not doing it on my violin yet. The cello is a different movement, from what I can tell.

@cid 

Yeah, I don't know of any cello vids that show great vibrato help.. sorry

BUT, this is a fantastic video. I do recall seeing this back in the Fall when I purchase a violin. He has more than one video. I had them bookmarked with an old phone. Then I forgot all about his videos. He explains it so well. And he makes it make so much sense. Will have to do it again. Thanks for posting that. I really love his videos and everyone trying to learn vibrato should check this out.

I am going to check out that book. I think I checked out that book before, too.  Ever got it though. Not sure why. Will find out if it was too much money or what when I check.

I have the book..  It is more of a reference, something that you would select specific exercises to work on when you need them.  Very well done, but a bit advanced for my level, although the vibrato exercises are great especially with the video to show you exactly how to do them.

I will be starting violin lessons again this week. Will be alternating hour long lessons every week between violin and cello. This week is violin. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  

You are very welcome! 

So even though it is really for violin, the concept is what I wanted you to see... the way he shows vibrato as a single motion, rather than the traditional 2 part motions that are generally taught.  I think it is a brilliant idea and you probably can apply it to cello.

- Pete -

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Thanks, again, @Pete_Violin. I read information today that said the book was for more advanced players. I think the price and no shown pages, sneak peak,  deterred me the last time. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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Dare I say it, but a book on warming up is probably overkill, as is most of Fischer's published material. Ask your teacher how they warm up.

Start with do, re, mi, fa, so, fa, mi, re, do major and minor on the A string to get your hand frame, thumb position and wrist straightness right.

Maybe do Schradieck 1.

If you want to warm up your vibrato, do it in 3rd position.

If you don't know what 3rd position is, don't vibrato.

Andrew

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cid
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HGordon Shumway said
Dare I say it, but a book on warming up is probably overkill, as is most of Fischer's published material. Ask your teacher how they warm up.

Start with do, re, mi, fa, so, fa, mi, re, do major and minor on the A string to get your hand frame, thumb position and wrist straightness right.

Maybe do Schradieck 1.

If you want to warm up your vibrato, do it in 3rd position.

If you don't know what 3rd position is, don't vibrato.

My original post was for general vibrato, cello, violin, viola discussion. So this is a generalized comment. 

I know what you are saying, but I disagree. Situations are different for different people. Some people do not have access to an instructor; to which many people say, “There are YouTubes”. Two points here, not everyone has what is needed to view a YouTube video. Not all YouTubes are very good. Not everyone can learn that way. I know, I need to see on paper, I need structure in paper, I need to see examples being done and hear. So, for me, a good structured book for reference is a necessary part of learning and understanding. A well organized book, not just one splashed together. It has to explain and give reasons, if possible. That is the way my mind works. I need the “why” to understand the “how” something works and then I understand it better because it makes sense. YouTubes are done quickly and it is hard to backup and “read” again.

Another issue is, that to just say, “if you don’t know what 3rd position is, don’t do vibrato” is kind of saying, “don’t try”. I don’t really subscribe to that train of thought. I subscribe to the idea that you do what you can to learn something. You search out information anywhere you can, however you can. You ask questions, if need be: you get a book, if need be; you watch a video, if need be and possible. 

Not the way everyone warms up works for everyone, for whatever reason. So, that person should not be told not to do it simply because some other person does it a way that person cannot do it.

Maybe someone is pretty good in first position, but needs some flourish or whatever to make his/her pieces come alive, or to put more enjoyment in his/her playing. The person does not have an instructor and is not able to shift, for whatever reason, for brevity (if you can believe it), I will not give the many reasons for this, is that person supposed to give up and not do vibrato, and further, not continue with violin because they need a book and don’t have an instructor? 

Like I said, I understand your point, you can do it. Some members of the forum, or unknown guests, will read that and say, “Well, I don’t have an instructor, I don’t know where 3rd position is, I therefore should not try to improve my first position playing. Might as well give up.” I beg to differ. Do whatever you need to fulfill your wish to play the violin, viola, or cello the best way you can with your resources and abilities, and have fun.

Also, you could have an instructor, as I did, who is just not fit to teach, and no alternatives available. Should I have just given up? No, I am using whatever resources I can find, even books others find useless. It is really a matter of preference, what suits that person’s learning style or system of learning. 

I know you were not meaning to say to just give up, I just wanted to explain why I differ with that opinion, which is rare, because I usually don’t differ from what you say, or to this extent. 

Being on the receiving end of the “then don’t do it” statements a number of times, I just didn’t want anyone getting discouraged and give up. Sometimes you find that you never reach that goal, but don’t not try because one path is blocked. Cut another path.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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