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Vibrato Without a Shoulder Rest!
Formidable, Challenging, Overwhelming... Vibrato
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 

September 9, 2021 - 7:35 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 2602
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Yes, I still find vibrato formidable, challenging and overwhelming - even though there are step-by-step instructions to follow. 😔 

It doesn't help that I can't get my first finger joints to flex and my almost non-existent shoulder rest means a lot of extra weight in my hand.  I have found more freedom for my fingers, by wrenching my elbow further under my violin and with a precarious thumb position under the neck, but I'm still trying to make this all comfortable.

So, I went poking around. 

Granted, please keep in mind, some of these right hand positions/techniques in these videos predate the wide, full vibrato that is in high demand today.  Being self-taught, these videos have helped me see what I've been doing and maybe will help me deal with my situation... we'll see. 

Violin Vibrato: How to do it Without a Shoulder Rest! - Andrew Hatfield

How to do Vibrato on the Violin Without a Shoulder Rest (or with one!) - Murphy Music Academy

The High Thumb Position: Learning Old School Violin Technique - Murphy Music Academy

And just for fun... so, your vibrato doesn't sound good?  🤔... blame it on your instrument's poor response? 

The Psychoacoustic Secret of Vibrato - Martin Schleske

The musician cannot do anything: In the strictest sense, he or she produces only a frequency modulation of the note (see above). In terms of the sound, the effectiveness of this frequency modulation is dependent on the resonance properties of the instrument, as described above.
A change in the shape of the excitation pattern causes significantly larger neuronal excitation differences in the brain’s hearing process than a plain periodic frequency shift of a largely homogeneous excitation pattern.
What does this mean in terms of the acoustic properties of the violin’s resonance profile? The greater the resonance density of the instrument (number of resonances per frequency band) and the lower the resonance damping, the greater the extent to which even tiny variations by the player (such as vibrato and bowing changes) will produce a change in the neuronal excitation and thus an increase in the perceptibility of the note. 

The “fiery tone” that likely results from this phenomenon is an essential characteristic of good violins. What we are dealing with here is a phenomenon which I like to call “perceptibility through quality” (or “projection through quality”) in contrast to plain “perceptibility through intensity”. It is this quality that allows the sound of a fantastic violin to project effortlessly all the way to the back row of a hall even when played pianissimo. The secret of “projection” is clearly related to the “vibrato sensitivity” of good instruments described here. 


...I'm pickin' up good vibrations...

- Emily


September 10, 2021 - 11:07 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 2602
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Well, after all that... I watched this video from Filip Pogády. 

How to VIBRATO - without a shoulder rest

Now I'm convinced I just have to make my thumb learn to balance the neck better. 


🤔... a new skill.  Thumb Juggling! 

- Emily


September 11, 2021 - 9:28 am
Member Since: June 24, 2020
Forum Posts: 293
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Simon Fischer touches on similar things that Filip does in this video--the focus on the up motion (back to the note), & the exaggerated motion (flattening finger, etc.,) while exercising. 

I think I agree with him about arm vibrato.  In my vibrato learning journey, I'm finding that I come upon a fuller, nicer sound when I get the arm vibrato working right.   But I think it's an individual thing--got to find the right thing for you.


September 11, 2021 - 2:11 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 2602
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@SharonC -

Thanks, Sharon!  

Trying to get the right muscles to work while keeping the rest relaxed has been such an ungratifying, slow process - it drives me nuts!  

🤔... keep thinking I'm bound to get this sooner or later. (lol) 

Revisiting this subject and seeing that everyone else gets it, keeps me trying! 🥰 


...still a firm believer that Old Dogs can learn new tricks! 

- Emily

Fort Lauderdale
September 13, 2021 - 11:59 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 15626

Vibrating does require some sense of stability when holding your instrument. Hopefully you get some from the chin-rest though.

Since when you vibrate you are going in two directions, the directions counter balance themselves. If you can focus the movement in your fingers and to be loose and relaxed, it will help greatly.

It's not all bad if the instrument moves slightly. There are some directions in which it's very bad for your instrument to move, such as up and down, whereas other types of movement might even give a enhanced color in junction with the vibrato. Pulsating movement. However, if it's disruptive, you would need to hold on just a bit tighter. Always be cautious not to squeeze and use unnecessary tension.

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

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