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Violin Lessons: Basic Vibrato

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>> So we violinists are very good at
classifying things.
And vibrato often gets classified in very
rigid categories.
We've got the arm vibrato, and the wrist
vibrato, and the finger vibrato.
The fact is that in a proper vibrato, lots
of things are moving.
Lots of things should be flexible.
It's true that different people may create
the vibrato impulse
using the whole arm as I do mostly.
Others initiate it more from the wrist.
And other people talk about a finger
and the truth is that all of those things
should be flexible.
Many of you will have already learned
vibrato, and
I'm not interested in changing the type of
vibrato you use.
So, the thing to remember, and
a weakness that I see in many people is
that the flexibility of that last joint.
A finger joint because no matter what kind
of vibrato you use the last,
well the only thing that contacts the
string is the finger.
So if the finger is rigid there's no kind
of vibrato
that's going to sound satisfying or that's
going to be supple or variable.
So instead of rigid this last joint it's
that should be true on all the four
Now vibrato only decorates a note from
Vibrato should never rise above the note.
So if I'm playing a D.
The vibrato should only just come up to
the D and then go back.
[SOUND] That's because the human ear tends
to hear
a vibrated note as the highest pitch
that's reached.
So, if you go above that D, the audience
is going to pick it up as a note above D.
So, two things that you always strive for
with vibrato, the ability to have
a continuous vibrato, that doesn't mean
that you necessarily vibrate all the time,
or vibrate every note, but you have to be
able to when you want to.
One of the worst habits in string playing
is the dreaded dead note.
Singing lines that have a sudden note
without vibrato.
And we usually do that on certain fingers,
maybe it's first finger or fourth finger.
Or we do it right before a shift or as the
last note of a slur.
You wanna always be on guard,
be using your ears so that you can play a
continuous vibrato when you want.
One finger hands off to the next.
It's also very important
as you progress to be able to vary
the speed of your vibrato.
If you listen to any of the great
they all have very different speeds for
their vibratos.
There may be a slower more relaxed one for
you know, a wide for a romantic concerto.
But if that same piece were to get more
The vibrato might speed up,
it might get more narrow.
That's something that's hard to do without
the tools of the trade.
The metronome is very useful for forcing
you out of your comfort zone.
Because let's face it each of us has a
comfortable vibrato speed.
A sort of default vibrato.
And that's fine.
Just like each of us has our own voice.
But you need to be able to get out of that
comfortable speed and to try all speeds.
So I'm gonna put the metronome on at 60.
[SOUND] And I'm gonna practice counting my
little vibrato wiggles.
Let's say I use the third finger.
I'm gonna have one up and one down for
every click of the metronome.
And now I'll do three.
Well, up, down, up during one click of the
[SOUND] Now you'll hear me go through
four, five, six, and so forth.
Now it's starting to feel like a real
Since it's harder to count a lot more than
eight in one click of the metronome.
If I want to get it faster I would put put
the metronome up.
Let's say to 72.
[SOUND] Now I'll quickly work up,
starting from two again.
That's getting close to my default speed.
So would be useful for me would be now to
just bump the metronome up a little bit so
you're working all kinds of speeds.
You're working speeds 60, 72,
but also because of the divisions you're
working all the ones in between.
It's important not to accumulate tension
when you're doing this.
It's okay to go a little faster than your
comfort zone, but
you don't wanna stay there too long.
You give it a rest, do it again another
But this is a way that you can control all
the speeds in between and
it will really pay dividends later on.
So when you send me a video of your
vibrato, go ahead and turn on
the metronome and show me divisions of
two, three, four, five, six, and eight.
And then put the metronome to a different
speed and do the same thing.
If you're really the tech type,
you can find a recording of your favorite
soloist, turn on the metronome,
slow the recording down if you have to and
figure out what their vibrato speed is.
You may be surprised that you have the
same default speed as one of your favorite
And then when you expand that range,
you'll be able to open up all the colors
that they do.