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Fiddle Lessons: Vibrato

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think it's time to talk about one of the
really important things about
playing the fiddle it's vibrato.
That's an Italian word meaning vibrate.
And it's that thing, that shaky thing,
that you do to make the note feel alive.
The difference between a note like this.
It's huge actually, it's,
it's the difference between a, an alive
moving note and just something that's.
[SOUND] Very dead and now there's places,
a lot of places where we don't vibrate.
If we're playing fast, of course, we're
not vibrating.
The sound of vibrato
is really associated more with, classical
The classical violin has gotten, sort of,
hijacked by the opera people for about 100
Everybody had to try to vibrate just like
an Italian tenor.
But, that's kinda going away, that's kinda
breaking up.
And people are starting to realize the
vibrato is really one of the most personal
things you can have that makes your sound
your sound.
And everybody has a different way of doing
this as far as just how wide they do it,
how fast they do it.
And also, there are different speeds, and
you might play different speeds and
different widths of vibrato in the same
To get a certain effect or just because
you're feeling a certain way.
So, it's kind of a huge subject but let's
just go into how,
how do you actually get started doing
And the usual way that people start
getting ready to do this is.
To do the car alarm.
Right so, that means that we're gonna just
put our hand on the neck, and
we're gonna move all the way up and all
the way down.
So it just sounds like a car alarm.
That means we're doing very little
pressure, we're still contacting the neck,
with these two points, the ball of the
thumb and
the ball of the hand just very lightly.
And we're putting our second finger on the
neck, and the fingerboard and
Let's do it on the A string.
That's the easiest one to reach right now,
and just go.
All the way up and all the way down.
the next step is to make that a little
A little narrower.
Make it a little
I've also gotten a little bit faster,
you don't necessarily have to make it
faster, but what we're going for
we're aiming for relaxation, we want to
keep that wrist again straight not
collapsed, we're not going to be able to
do this if we have a collapsed wrist.
Until we're just moving a little bit.
And then there's a little bit of a change.
You can see my wrist starts moving a
little bit more.
It's like almost as if you were beckoning
to somebody, comer here, come here.
You know, and your wrist, you can see your
wrist moves a little bit like that.
So let's just spend a second, just making
our wrist move like that.
Like, come on, come here.
Come on, come over here.
Yeah, just climb through that screen.
Come on in.
That's the basic vibrato motion there.
It's that, that little bit of wrist
You could see, let's again put our second
finger up on a, let's see.
Just a C natural is fine.
Could be any note.
And we're going to just again beckon that,
that person out past our.
So that we're just rolling and
you can see that the fingers just rolling
a little on the ball.
Now this is gonna be, there's two ways
when you start doing this.
It's gonna happen.
You can spasm.
You just spas it.
You don't get it going really fast or you
can like work real slowly and
just roll like that.
And that's.
That's what I want you to do.
I want you to do the slow one.
I don't want you to do the spaz one
Because then you're gonna wind up having
the spaz vibrato that has nothing to do
with who you are as a person or
your basic personality.
When I was a kid, I was ordered to vibrate
by my violin teacher.
And I wound up doing a spazzy vibrato that
I had to completely lose.
So I had to stop vibrating for a year, and
then my real vibrato started to grow in,
like my adult teeth, later.
But it took a long time, and I had to undo
a lot of things.
So, I don't want you to have to undo
I want you to go ahead and go very slow.
This slow roll, roll, rolling on the ball
of the finger.
Just do it with your second finger.
You can try it with your third finger.
Try it with your first finger.
Once you get into a place where it feels a
little bit more natural.
This might three or
four days of just a few minutes a day of
just going back and forth.
Might take even longer.
Might take seven might be a take eight
days, of just going back and
forth like this, until you get to place
where you can comfortably do it,
it doesn't have to be a lot, all right,
the difference between.
This kind of vibrato and.
This kind of vibrato is huge.
This very narrow motion.
But the difference between no motion.
And the tiniest motion
You can hear it's really a big difference.
So you don't have to use a lot of this
stuff and
you don't have to start the vibrato at the
beginning of the note.
Although when we're practicing it, it's
best to just do it continually.
Actually, what really sounds good for
this kind of music is to start the note
with no vibrato.
then let up, give it a little bit right at
the end of the note.
It's sorta the opposite of classical
violin vibrato where the classical
musician is trying to intensify
everything, they're trying to play.
It's very intense, very driven,
they're trying to reach that person 60
feet away.
With most vibrato in, in folk music and
pop music and music all over the world,
it's usually used not so much to intensify
but to relax the feeling of the note.
So play.
Feel this little relaxation with that's,
I think that's kind of what we're after.
A relaxed kind of thing.
And, everyone is going to have something
that they like.
Some of the pop singers, have a big
A slow vibrato, and
that kinda sounds interesting, if you
listen to very early Rod Stewart,
when he was playing with Jeff Beck, he's
got this funny
Vibrato that makes it sound like he is
just going, loosening up.
Very loose.
I think we are probably going to want
something in between.
But for the waltzes, and the slow tunes,
the ballads,
it's very nice to have a little bit of
It doesn't take much to give it just that
little life.
You know, so go ahead and start with that.
That rolling rolling thing, again,
if you're feeling tight, or can't get it,
start with the car alarm.
Bring it down.
Slow it down if you need to.
Make sure it's good and slow.
And in a couple of weeks or months you
will have yourself the beginnings of your,
your own personal vibrato.