Vibrato Tips and Exercises

In this lesson I give you some vibrato tips and exercises and show you how to effectively practice vibrato on the violin

 

When you want to free your vibrato, you have to keep some key factors in mind:

  1. You need the right finger pressure! Pressing too hard will make the violin shake and the fingers stiff, pressing to light will make the finger slip on the fingerboard. Experiment with this parameter to find your right finger pressure!
  2. Have a good violin hold! If you have problems with holding your violin up, your whole left arm will be in an uncomfortable position and your vibrato movement can get stuck. Hold the scroll up and make sure you have a fitting chin- and shoulder-rest. Holding the violin more to the left, will make it easier for your left hand to reach the fingerboard and therefore help with the vibrato!
  3. Keep your fingernails short! If they are too long, you will be restricted to roll your finger on the fingerboard, which is the key of the whole vibrato movement.
  4. Keep the left hand fingers rounded! This is especially important in higher positions and most difficult for the fourth finger, the pinky. Try to practice a finger position, where your last finger joint can be moved in both directions. This way your fingertip will roll easier on the fingerboard!

 

Regarding the pitch of the vibrato there has been a still ongoing debate whether or not the oscillation of the vibrato should go around the pitch, or just under the pitch. Newest research seem to clarify that indeed a rolling around the pitch is the most common way of doing a vibrato, regardless of the instrument.

For a detailed analysis you can watch the video of David Finckel, where he analyses the vibrato of the singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in slow motion:

 

To practice vibrato you will need good patience and of course good exercises:

 

  1. Divide your bow (not literally) and play 4 regular vibrato swings on a whole bow. Then 6,8,12… and so on. With a metronome this exercise will be even more efficient!
  2. Play two notes without vibrato with a very still and constant bow and then the same note with vibrato two times. Try to keep the bow calm and constant also when you add the vibrato!
  3. A great way to feel the development of the sound when adding vibrato is to start to play a long note without vibrato. Then half way through the note (at the middle of the bow) add the vibrato to the already ongoing note. Do this exercise in upbow and downbow!

If you haven’t had enough of vibrato exercises, click here for more basic exercises for vibrato

Have fun practicing!

 

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