Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #1925 Reply

    Kay Chang

    Would you explain the difference between the violin vibratos, and when it is best to use each?
    I was just taught to vibrato, and never heard of there being 2 types.

    #2019 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    Arm vibrato is more consistent in my opinion, although there are many great violinists out there that use a wrist vibrato. Let me use an analogy that might help regarding which one you might consider tackling. I find arm vibrato is like playing miniature golf and putting your hands on the appropriate spot on the grip of the putter to putt. Wrist vibrato, to me, is similar to taking that putter and putting your hands way on the bottom of the club by the blade (where you putt the ball). This doesn’t give you as much control as having your hands on the grip, otherwise you would see a lot more people playing miniature golf that way!

    If you are interested in learning more about arm vs. forearm vibrato, check out this vibrato violin lesson. Any other thoughts or questions out there?

    #2029 Reply

    April Ellis

    Is learning vibrato for the very first time difficult if you’ve already been playing for a number of years?

    #2070 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    Learning vibrato is difficult only if you have improper fundamentals in the left hand. If you are moving improperly towards notes, or pressing down too hard on the fingerboard, you will find vibrato will complicate intonation and playing fast. On the other hand, if you really work hard on your left-hand technique, you will find it a lot easier to learn vibrato. Here are some things that must be in place to do vibrato properly.

    1. Nice relaxed hand – If you have tension in your hand (really anywhere), it is going to cause some problems getting a nice fluid motion. Try relaxing as much as possible from your elbow all the way to your fingertips.

    2. Finger angles back – If you reach towards notes, your fingers are changing angles in accordance with the fingerboard. Basically, that means you are putting your hand out of place to create proper vibrato motion. Place fingers on the very tip of the string, and stay away from reaching towards notes.

    3. Finger placement – Place your fingers on the fingerboard as close as you can to your nail. If you use more the meat of the finger instead, you are going to find it difficult to have limited pressure on the fingerboard to keep your hand relaxed. Really, point one that I made above and this point go hand in hand. To get a relaxed hand you have to just barely use enough pressure on the fingerboard to get the pressure you need to make the note sound. Over pressing will make you force the vibrato which will make it harder.

    I see some students have proper fundamentals for being able to do vibrato well in 4 weeks, while others it takes 5+ years. Just focus on left-hand fundamentals and you should be fine. Since shifting and vibrato is similar in the proper technique you need to do it, I highly recommend watching this violin shifting video for more tips on left hand.

    #2196 Reply

    Jim Soltis

    Hi, I’m Jim Soltis and I’ve been Michael’s student for a little over 2 years. I’m 65 years old. I’ve been playing for maybe five years but I didn’t really start making any progress until I started with Michael. After about a year I wanted to learn vibrato because I felt like I would never be able to get the best sound out of my playing until I did. So, Michael and I began working on it. April, you ask if it is difficult. I gotta admit that there were a couple of times when I had serious doubts, but I was determined to learn it. So, I persevered and now I’ve got a pretty good wrist vibrato. I found that my early frustration went away when I understood that I would have to learn it insteps, in increments. Crawl first, then walk. For a week or two or three, I just worked on getting the right movement of my arm. For me, the easiest place to do a vibrato is playing a D note on the A string. So that’s the only place I played for several weeks. I would just move my arm back and forth in the correct manner very slowly trying to remember to keep tension out of my left hand and also my bow hand. Michael can tell you better than I can what the right steps are. It took me about 4 or 5 months before I felt like I could legitimately say I can do a vibrato and maybe twice that long before I could comfortably incorporate it into many of the songs I play. It’s amazing how much better songs like Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, Ashokan Farewell and others sound now that I can do them with vibrato. There is certainly some effort, but it’s like a lot of things, once you put out the effort to learn them you look back and say, “Geez, why did I think I couldn’t do that?”

    #2200 Reply

    April Ellis

    Hey J! Thanks for the post! It’s great to hear that from you! It gives me extra encouragement! (Michael’s initial post did that as well, but when hearing from a student near your age bracket speaks up, it gives my heart hope!) I’ll be watching the video in full on it this week. Haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and do that yet, but I plan on doing it this week, and starting to practice. I fully agree that there are songs that sound better, more rich, and full of body with vibrato! I’ve been working on a rather difficult song in Bb, (that key is super hard for me, as my hands are rather small, and it’s hard for me to reach certain notes), but there are a few spots in it where a vibrato would be amazing. So, thank you so much J for the encouraging response! I fully plan on tackling this, and will learn and achieve it!

    #2257 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    Thanks for the post Jim! It has been a very rewarding experience seeing you go through the steps these past couple of years. You are a positive testimony to many players out there!

    I find that many students in their 50’s+ give up vibrato, thinking they just can’t do it. This is far from the truth as I believe anybody can do vibrato with proper fundamentals (including those that start at a later age). The only thing I would say about a student in their 50’s+ is that you have to work a little bit harder regarding not overly pressing on the fingerboard (compared to someone with soft hands). I find (for whatever reason), students in their 50’s+ press down on the fingerboard too hard, thus restricting their vibrato potential. This causes tension in the hand that makes it virtually impossible to move fluidly to create the wave. You have to aim each finger placement on the tip of each string (right before the nail) to create the best potential for vibrato. This limits hand tension and makes it easier to create a beautiful/consistent vibrato. This is just one step on the process.

    I actually have a couple of really good videos on vibrato that I want you guys to check out. I created over 25 videos down in Indianapolis for the “Fiddle for Dummies” book, and these are the two videos I created on vibrato. It includes three different camera angles of the hand and if you follow these two videos to a science, I can almost guarantee you success!

    Vibrato Video #1 – Fiddle for Dummies Book
    Vibrato Video #2 – Fiddle for Dummies Book

    The videos above break down learning vibrato into steps,including everything you should be working on and/or considering. Remember it takes time like Jim said in his post. Enjoy, and let me know if you guys have any questions.

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    #2372 Reply

    Kay Chang

    Michael and I were chatting on the Chat box and he really emphasized how important it is to have a relaxed left hand for vibrato, I almost asked the question, “How can I work to make my left hand more relaxed?” when I remember another post so I went and got his answer and I’m going to paste it here so you don’t have to go look for it. 🙂

    Michael says:
    The biggest thing is that you have to understand that you can do this without the instrument. Once you get that through your head it makes it easier to do on the violin. Pretend like you are holding a violin and now go ahead and place your fingers down on your fake fingerboard. That took a lot less effort than before right? This is the same effort level you should have when you actually have the instrument in your hand. Most likely you are pressing too hard, and if you have any sort of bad angle technique with your fingers (you are reaching for notes instead of just placing fingers), you will most likely keep restricting your vibrato. It is great that you know that this is causing your vibrato to suffer, now it is just a matter of working on it!

    Another thing you could do is working just doing pizzicato, and try to see how light you can place your fingers down on the fingerboard while still getting a clean pluck noise. Plucking/pizzicato is when you use your finger to pick the string instead of the bow. Try using the very tip of the finger (right before the nail) instead of the meat of the finger That also helps in establishing minimal pressure which will lead to better vibrato and shifting technique.

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Reply To: Violin Vibrato and Viola Vibrato Tips – Wrist vs. Arm
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