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Expert Violin Vibrato Tips

Performing a proper vibrato on a violin is no small feat.

We've been exploring some of the best approaches, and how to practice -- all in the hopes of making you better prepared. Finally, we decided to go straight to a Violin expert: Richard Amoroso of the Philadelphia Orchestra. We asked Richard one question: what advice would you give a violinist trying to perfect their vibrato?

Richard Amoroso offers violin lessons directly to students on ArtistWorks.com

This is what Richard had to say:

1. Don't take anything for granted. 

This may seem obvious, but don't assume you know it. One of the most common mistakes I see on vibrato is people using it incorrectly. They often learned poor habits and don't know how to control their movement and sound. One of the hardest things a violinist can do is tear down all they know about the vibrato, and relearn from scratch. For some, that becomes the only option. That's why it is so crucial to learn the vibrato correctly the first time. 

2. It's a controlled motion. Not a spasm.

If you're treating your vibrato as a wild spasm, you won's be able to control the speed you're vibrating. A true vibrato is very controlled, it can speed up, or be slower to match the sound of the piece. Unfortunately, I often see new players tensing their hand so hard it begins to shake -- and this isn't the vibrato at all. 

3. Waves should go downward, not backward. 

Some teachers don’t have a good grasp on this and tell students to put their finger on the note and go backward. Waves should go downward, not backward. If you do go backward, the pitch suffers, it ends up being heard flat. It's important for students to learn to vibrate around the note and circle it, to avoid sounding flat. It’s like kneading or massaging, and students need to learn that motion. It is not back and forth like windshield wipers, but rather up, down, back and forth -- all while never losing connection with fingerboard.

4. Use a metronome.

I always suggest using a metronome and controlling the motion by moving to the rhythm (not just randomly). Students must perform and practice to a regular beat. Start slow, then pick up the pace.

 

5. Be patient.

Having a good vibrato is challenging, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and don’t rush the process. Patience is key to learning it correctly. It's best to learn little by little, and learn it well. As I mentioned, if you learn bad habits -- they become hard to break.

Remember, vibrato should not be an on and off switch, but rather a way to add color to a piece. Violinist use the vibrato to enhance the sound of their playing, and it's important to develop a proper vibrato that is unique to you as a musical artist. Richard Amoroso can help you perfect your vibrato and find your sound. Explore lessons with Richard here.

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