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Vibrato On Cello
Tips for Cello Vibrato, Tips to Share and Questions
Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
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cid
May 27, 2020 - 4:45 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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I started vibrato a while ago and have not really been practicing it much because the lesson songs have just been very time consuming and practicing my the vibrato technique I was taught has fallen on the wayside.

Like Ilona said, for me it is easier in first position. I also find it easier with specific fingers. The latter makes sense since my ring and little finger are so weak. I am not having luck strengthening them.

I do recall that for the little finger vibrato that you can use the ring finger with the little finger to give it an assist. It really helps.

It is also harder to do the vibrato the higher you shift. I need to ask my instructor how it is done. I know it is a little different, but I have to find out exactly how it is down. 

It is also harder for me to do it on the C string, but everything is hard for me in the C string. 

What I do to practice it is to add it to easy songs that I have memorized. That way I don’t have to think about much else, just playing it slow so I can add vibrato to practice with. The vibrato may not belong there and the song is being played too slow, but, I already know the fingering and bowing and can concentrate in the vibrato. 

I will add more information after I find what I need, or as more of my experience comes to mind.

Please, fellow cellists, if you have any vibrato tips, issues, comments on what I just said, or questions, please, feel free to reply to this thread. Thanking you in advance.

Viola Time! 

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Ilona
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May 28, 2020 - 4:20 pm
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One thing I noticed quite usefull is to practice with metronome. It’s easier to control the speed of vibrato when I hear the rhythm.

I can handle this when I’m focusing just that, but adding vibrato to some real song is whole different thing. I allways practice new pieces without it, and try to add it when I know the song good enough. Then I decide which notes should have vibrato, usually half notes and longer first.

This is what I’m practicing daily. I really, really want to learn make vibrato with every finger and in every position. But I’m strugling with 3rd position just now, especially A string. I’m not sure where my thumb should be and do I need to keep my elbow down or high. 

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cid
May 28, 2020 - 9:16 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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Ilona, I have found some useful YouTubes that I will post links to. I am in a bit of pain right now. I ran over my 2nd finger left hand with my sewing machine this afternoon. It is a bit sore, I don’t know what I did, my machine is not one of the old machine where it would be easy to get your finger in the way. Nope, just lack of attention, I think. Not as bad as it sounds, but very painful.

Don’t see my cello lesson happening tomorrow, but am holding off cancelling in case it is better by then. The second finger left hand us quite useful when playing cello!

Viola Time! 

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Ilona
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May 29, 2020 - 4:28 am
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Question. Is it ok if my finger is not curved when I’m doing vibrato in 3rd or 4th position? My teacher said it should be, but it’s so much easier to get vibrato sound better if my finger is straight. I don’t have this problem in first position, it’s easy to keep fingers curved there. Picture below:
A10074E9-E61A-425D-92DE-E8B8BB7BE4C4.jpeg 

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cid
May 29, 2020 - 6:19 am
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I think the teacher is correct. You need to have loose relaxed joints, curved fingers. That said ...

There are a few videos that explain that it really depends on your physique (joints). Some teachers allow and explain to students, that one size does not fit all. This is especially true with adult students whose joints are not as pliable as the younger students. That is an issue I have, i think my joints, at age 65, simply cannot do things in cello the way a younger student can. We have not been working with vibrato much. It was introduced, but have really not been spending a lot of time in it yet. I am going to work on vibrato the way it works best for me. Hopefully, when we get back to it, I will have it down enough that the instructor will not be pointing out what I am doing wrong based in the way he learned when he was young. 😁

Vibrato on cello is very difficult to get. It is going to take a long time. I am much too stiff and my thumb always is much to tight against the neck. I believe the thumb goes behind the finger you are vibrating with, unlike keeping it behind the second finger when not doing vibrato. 

I have some video links for you that I will post later. One is a video of someone playing a song in a concert. You can see her vibrato arm and fingers nicely when she vibratos in the different positions. None of the videos had the stiff straight fingers, if I recall correctly.

I will be posting some video links in my next reply. I suggest you not go from technique to technique with videos. I would find one or a couple that are similar, that suit you and work from them. People do it differently.

Viola Time! 

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cid
May 29, 2020 - 8:33 am
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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Vibrato YouTube links

Tina Guo Cello Tutorial - Vibrato

Tina Guo Vibrato

Different vibratos, different fingering curvature or stiffness based in your body structure (fingers joints, etc), options for you based on you. Best viewed if you turn captions on. Tina is very good. She has other videos, too.

I did not know cello had different vibratos. I was always told there was just arm vibrato. Not so, there is finger, hand/wrist, full arm and others. She did not say what the others are. If you like the way she explains it in this video, maybe watch some of her other videos. 

 

Abigail McHugh-Grifa

Abigail,has many videos. I just found her in my search for information on vibrato. Here is her thumb position vibrato video link:

Abigail McHugh-Grifa Vibrato

If you like this video, you might want to check out her other videos.

 

Here is Hanna Chang playing, The Swan. Watch her arms, fingers, etc when she vibratos in the different positions, from first to thumb positions. 

Hanna Chang - The Swan

 

I like Tina Guo’s theory that how your vibrato (form) is dependent on the individual’s fingers. No “One form suits all”. She mentioned some people use straight fingers, other use curved, some mix depending in the type of vibrato. 

Viola Time! 

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Ilona
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June 14, 2020 - 3:41 pm
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I have been practicing vibrato A LOT in recent days. I have tried it with every finger and in every position, and it basically works fine with most of them. (Well, not so good in 4th position.) I think I got the main idea, but definitely need much more practice because adding vibrato to the songs which I’m playing now is still difficult. I feel like I’m loosing that idea as soon as I have to focus on other things as well. My thumb becomes too tight and I think that is the main problem. It stays relaxed when I practice just vibrato, but not when playing something faster. I have tried to talk to my thumb that it should behavior better 😀

So I need more exercises in slow tempo. I actually found Chanson Triste very helpful song to practice with, so I will continue with it.

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cid
June 14, 2020 - 4:30 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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Yep, I do better with just playing vibrato, adding to notes in a song is a problem. 

Like I said, Chanson Triste is meant for vibrato, so a good one. I use the early, easier Suzuki songs for the moment. I need easier fingering. I have a tendency  to just use my wrist, and I am doing arm vibrato now. I have to get that down before we try the other cello vibratos. 

I have been adding it to Danny Boy. I found that cello version, and have been using it for bowing and, now, vibrato.I have also been shifting the easier Suzuki songs so that half and whole notes that Suzuki has fingered as open are shifted and no longer open.

My right arm fights with my left hand fingering and I am trying to conquer that issue.

Scales are good for vibrato practice too, from what I have heard.

Viola Time! 

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Ilona
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July 24, 2020 - 5:07 am
Member Since: May 19, 2020
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I can’t believe, but I got it!

I was playing the Russian lullaby that I have practiced a lot, and then suddenly something just clicked. My thumb stayed relaxed and fingers curved, even in 3rd position which has been so difficult earlier.

I don't know what happened! I'm just hoping this will stick now. My vibrato learning process has been bouncing up and down, first it was easier in higher positions, then it was totally impossible, then I had huge problems with my index finger when all the rest worked just fine etc...

The only difference I can see is that I put the watch on my wrist. I haven’t used it for a long time, but could it really help me to focus better on hand position?

But wow, it feels so good now.

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