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Cello Lessons: Beginning Vibrato

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We've learned a lot of melodies and
we've been playing them without vibrato.
What is vibrato?
Well when you sing, vibrato is the natural
relaxation of your vocal cords,
that makes the pitch kinda go like this.
So let me demonstrate.
We've got a pitch without vibrato.
And now I'll relax it with vibrato.
And now we have vibrato.
My vibrato is not very
good with the voice,
but my vibrato is awesome with the cello.
And I want your vibrato to be
awesome with the cello too.
So, on the cello, I am going to
play third finger on the D String,
and I'm just going to wiggle my hand.
I'm gonna rock it back and forth.
You can try it with me.
Leaving the third finger on the string,
I'm just going to sort of rotate my hand.
Kind of like I was turning a doorknob.
If you were turning a doorknob, let's say
you were jiggling a doorknob to see if it
was locked or not,
you might go back and forth in it.
And you don't need any force,
you're just gonna twist and
rotate, kind of the whole forearm.
The whole forearm is gonna rotate.
And I'm gonna move that rotation, and
I'm gonna anchor it with
the third finger on the D string.
Let's hear what that sounds like.
Join me on this note.
Already I just wanna say that you
can vibrate very fast or very slow, and
right now I want us to vibrate
somewhere in the middle.
Actually, just at that natural speed
that you might jiggle a door handle at.
And that's gonna allow us to stay relaxed.
What you don't want to do,
is get really tight with your vibrato,
and go really fast, and like clench
your hands so it sounds like this.
We don't want that.
We want a relaxed vibrato.
Lets try practicing the vibrato
in our D major scale.
As we go through this curriculum, there's
gonna be a lot of opportunities for
us to use a scale as a way
to practice a new technique.
So I'm going to play D major scale,
one octave up and down with vibrato.
The one thing
I'll say about my
hand position,
is that often I don't
leave all my fingers
down like I've
been telling you to
do up until now.
Often when vibrating, it helps to
leave the other fingers slightly above
the string, so that you can really pivot
just on the finger that is sounding,
but what you don't want to do
is stick those fingers way up.
That is a no, no.
You wanna keep everything kind of
relaxed and close to the string.
Feel free to practice your octave
scale with vibrato, on your own time.
The way we're gonna start
to apply this to music,
is with the melody Dies Irae
that we learned recently.
Let me perform Dies Irae with you,
with vibrato.
And it's really gonna help the sound
start to resonate and feel relaxed.
And it'll be more expressive than it
was when we learned it without vibrato.
I'll do this with the E drone.
As you practice
vibrato with
this melody,
the thing I want
you to look out for
is if your vibrato
is continuous.
We want our default vibrato
to kind of be uniform.
And not be erratic.
Sometimes, people vibrate with
tension only on certain notes and
it'll sound like this.
You can tell that I'm not
vibrating on the fourth finger at all,
and it kind of goes in and out.
See while you're practicing,
if you can make sure your
vibrato is continuous,
even when you change notes.
You can start to apply this vibrato to any
of the pieces of music we're learning.
But keep in mind that this
idea of continuous vibrato
is a classical style technique.
We're going to use vibrato in
a different way for other styles.
And in fact, we're going to use it
far less frequently in fiddle music,
or in jazz or other groove based music.
But if you're ever playing a slow melody,
particularly Dies Irae, or
the next song we are gonna learn,
French folk song.
The vibrato's gonna sound really nice, and
I think you'll enjoy the sounds
coming out of your instrument.