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dpappas

When learning vibrato, did you focus on one “type” at a time or learn them in parallel

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I’ve been working on vibrato with my teacher.  I was wondering how many of you learned one “type” first, then the other.  For example, learning “hand” vibrato, then “arm”.  

How many of you learned both simultaneously, like performing an exercise isolating the arm movement, then the same exercise with the hand movement   

I know in practice vibrato can combine both, but one is often isolated over the other for practice or learning.  

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When I was learning, my teacher told me there were three types: finger, wrist, and arm vibrato. He gave me exercises to work on that focused on consistency of amplitude and just let me play and develop whichever type was most confortable for my style and taste. Since different players will gravitate toward different styles, I believe it’s better to find the one that comes most naturally rather than to force only one. Over time a player may even find that it’s beneficial  to use different types depending on the style of music. 

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I think there's just one type which is the best, not that it isn't varied, which feels like it originates near the finger tip. 

Here are two videos describing it, the first a video of Silverstein, and he describes why it is best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY9P0jYGtiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgjZmxW4oXo

An important part of learning it is to have the hand in 3rd or 4th position so that it's against the body of the violin so is restricted a bit from movement.  Learning it is sliding the finger with the hand in that position, and then keeping that movement while imagining the fingertip is glued to the string.  The motion toward the scroll the string may come off the fingerboard slightly.  Dounis calls that the "sizzle".  Simon Fisher in Basics describes that as a period of relaxation. 

I think this is a good example of how that vibrato looks, even though it's a viola...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imrv_wB17CY

There's a great exercise by Dounis for continuous vibrato which also strengthens the 4th finger.  It's the first exercise in Dounis Fundamental Technical Studies Op. 23.  that is on IMSLP

My first teacher vibratoed like this but he taught the usual way for those times, and he died before I could get everything I could from him.  I had a good vibrato but always envied the freedom he had until I discovered this later.  Ideally there's no tension anywhere and the hand feels something like there's a weight in the knuckles that swings back and forth.  Very easy and no tension.  Always look for tension in the forearm.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I think there's just one type which is the best, not that it isn't varied, which feels like it originates near the finger tip. 

Here are two videos describing it, the first a video of Silverstein, and he describes why it is best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY9P0jYGtiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgjZmxW4oXo

An important part of learning it is to have the hand in 3rd or 4th position so that it's against the body of the violin so is restricted a bit from movement.  Learning it is sliding the finger with the hand in that position, and then keeping that movement while imagining the fingertip is glued to the string.  The motion toward the scroll the string may come off the fingerboard slightly.  Dounis calls that the "sizzle".  Simon Fisher in Basics describes that as a period of relaxation. 

I

Thank you for that.  Silverstein was a paragon of mine,  (and Kreisler and Heifetz) so this is an amazing video.  Too short, imv.  My teacher also taught that slow movement pre vibrato that Silverstein mentioned, in scales, as a warm-up...

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Vibrato is amplitude and frequency.

In order to do either effectively, you must first be relaxed. If you are a relaxed player, the oscillation will begin by itself, and can then easily be refined. There is no “type,” there is only amplitude and frequency, which are adjusted according to the needs of the music.

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I agree with PhilipKT there is only one "type" of vibrato, varying in amplitude and frequency. It is anatomically impossible for any vibrato to "originate near the finger tip", as humans have no intrinsic muscles of the fingers. 

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1 hour ago, raspritz said:

I agree with PhilipKT there is only one "type" of vibrato, varying in amplitude and frequency. It is anatomically impossible for any vibrato to "originate near the finger tip", as humans have no intrinsic muscles of the fingers. 

A lot of violin teaching is conveying what something feels like, which is often different from what is happening.  But if you feel like you have no muscles in your fingers, you should eat better and go to violin gym.

With violin, the convention is there is arm vibrato and wrist vibrato.  Famous players are proponents of each.  See the Silverstein video above.  Some science officer can explain there's only amplitude and frequency, but the question is how they're created and the side effects and the sound.

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I think a stumbling block for me is the initiation.  Andrew V has mentioned here and violinist.com his well-informed opinion on the mechanics (arm or hand) but I struggle to get the “engine” started.  

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5 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

A lot of violin teaching is conveying what something feels like, which is often different from what is happening.  But if you feel like you have no muscles in your fingers, you should eat better and go to violin gym.

With violin, the convention is there is arm vibrato and wrist vibrato.  Famous players are proponents of each.  See the Silverstein video above.  Some science officer can explain there's only amplitude and frequency, but the question is how they're created and the side effects and the sound.

Famous players are poor models. They are uniquely gifted or they wouldn’t be famous, and they make their own rules. 

The fundamental need for vibrato is relaxation, which not one of the various YouTube videos I have watched addressed. Every one starts from a foundation of tension.

If you relax, the oscillation that is the essence of vibrato will begin by itself and it will begin in the most natural part of your body. Whether that’s wrist or elbow is moot. Your body will start moving and you may proceed from there.

When you force a motion, even if the motion itself is the correct one, it is unnatural. 

Consider walking: Shifting weight, counterbalancing with the arm as you lean into the next step and repeat. Try thinking through each step in the process as you actually walk, and you’ll see how clumsy it is.

Vibrato is literally the same. Just as you learned to walk naturally and effortlessly as a child, so too, with a relaxed approach to the violin, you’ll find yourself flowing back and forth without even knowing you’re doing it. It’s more awkward on violin than on cello, but I’ve seen it with dozens of my students over the years. The best are the most relaxed and they start vibrating without even knowing they are doing so. Others are extremely tense and must first learn to relax, and then the same thing happens. Trying too hard is literally the worst thing you can do.

Another example, though difficult to describe: put your left second fingertip on the tip of your left thumb, gently. Touching, not pressing. Now let the joint closest to the thumb tip pivot back and forth.

That’s vibrato. Pivoting from elbow or wrist or both, moving the joint forward and back through an arc of about 45 degrees at its widest, narrowing as the frequency increases, according to the needs of the music. If you relax, that joint can oscillate freely. If you’re forcing, it won’t move at all.

I use arm or wrist without consciously choosing which. I just vibrate according to the needs of the music. 

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5 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

But if you feel like you have no muscles in your fingers, you should eat better and go to violin gym.

The only muscles in the fingers are the Umbricals, on the sides of each finger, and they allow for spacing between individual fingers. I don’t think they are involved in vibrato.

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8 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Famous players are poor models. They are uniquely gifted or they wouldn’t be famous, and they make their own rules. 

The fundamental need for vibrato is relaxation, which not one of the various YouTube videos I have watched addressed. Every one starts from a foundation of tension.

If you relax, the oscillation that is the essence of vibrato will begin by itself and it will begin in the most natural part of your body. Whether that’s wrist or elbow is moot. Your body will start moving and you may proceed from there.

When you force a motion, even if the motion itself is the correct one, it is unnatural. 

Consider walking: Shifting weight, counterbalancing with the arm as you lean into the next step and repeat. Try thinking through each step in the process as you actually walk, and you’ll see how clumsy it is.

Vibrato is literally the same. Just as you learned to walk naturally and effortlessly as a child, so too, with a relaxed approach to the violin, you’ll find yourself flowing back and forth without even knowing you’re doing it. It’s more awkward on violin than on cello, but I’ve seen it with dozens of my students over the years. The best are the most relaxed and they start vibrating without even knowing they are doing so. Others are extremely tense and must first learn to relax, and then the same thing happens. Trying too hard is literally the worst thing you can do.

Another example, though difficult to describe: put your left second fingertip on the tip of your left thumb, gently. Touching, not pressing. Now let the joint closest to the thumb tip pivot back and forth.

That’s vibrato. Pivoting from elbow or wrist or both, moving the joint forward and back through an arc of about 45 degrees at its widest, narrowing as the frequency increases, according to the needs of the music. If you relax, that joint can oscillate freely. If you’re forcing, it won’t move at all.

I use arm or wrist without consciously choosing which. I just vibrate according to the needs of the music. 

Excellent point!    Thank you.  

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14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Famous players are poor models. They are uniquely gifted or they wouldn’t be famous, and they make their own rules.

Well, I've heard if you're talented enough, you can get by with a lot.  But learn what they have in common and you will learn a lot.

 

14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

If you relax, the oscillation that is the essence of vibrato will begin by itself and it will begin in the most natural part of your body. Whether that’s wrist or elbow is moot. Your body will start moving and you may proceed from there.

Problem solved.  Get on it, OP.

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One method that I use for my students is to have them place a sock over the scroll, press the scroll gently but firmly against the wall, and practice moving their arm/wrist/finger.  This allows them to be relaxed and whatever combination of method feels right to them will be evident.  No shaking of the instrument, no tension from the arm...the affixing (if you will) of the instrument allows the student to relax and do what's natural.  

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On 2/3/2019 at 9:12 PM, dpappas said:

I’ve been working on vibrato with my teacher.  I was wondering how many of you learned one “type” first, then the other.  For example, learning “hand” vibrato, then “arm”.  

How many of you learned both simultaneously, like performing an exercise isolating the arm movement, then the same exercise with the hand movement   

I know in practice vibrato can combine both, but one is often isolated over the other for practice or learning.  

Bill Merkel's comments above point in a direction I personally support. Maybe it is best to start with a couple of more basic questions. Why would you want to use vibrato? When is it a good idea? Is there any jusification for the apprently crazy practice of trying to apply vibrato to every note? (I am not saying there is not a good reason, only that you should be able to state the reason rather than doing it blindly--is that fair?)

I learned arm vibrato first because it came easily. Still does with a shoulder rest, but arm vibrato is challenging without a shoulder rest, which I abandoned owing to stiffness in the neck. However, I also did the arm vibrato without a musical intention or a clear idea why I wanted to use vibrato, other than the fact that respected players seemed to vibrate a lot. I was young then, so I may perhaps be forgiven the idiocy of trying to learn vibrato without understanding what it is for, and without being able to state in plain words why history's greatest violin teacher (Auer) was wrong when he said (in 'Violin playing as I teach it') that constant vibrato is a nervous fault requiring not practice to develop, but practice to cure.

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On 2/6/2019 at 1:27 PM, Bill Merkel said:

Well, I've heard if you're talented enough, you can get by with a lot.  But learn what they have in common and you will learn a lot.

 

Problem solved.  Get on it, OP.

Will do!

 

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When I was just beginning, in public schools, our teacher told us to practice vibrato using left hand on right wrist (as if it were the violin neck)--any time, while watching TV or listening to our parents go on or watching a ball game. Whenever. Today I realize that this encourages relaxation, as well as the sense that the fingerboard receives the impulse.

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8 hours ago, crazy jane said:

When I was just beginning, in public schools, our teacher told us to practice vibrato using left hand on right wrist (as if it were the violin neck)--any time, while watching TV or listening to our parents go on or watching a ball game. Whenever. Today I realize that this encourages relaxation, as well as the sense that the fingerboard receives the impulse.

I agree with this exercise; however, once the student places their arm/hand on the fingerboard, the vibrato movement that they practiced beforehand changes due to the mentality that the hand holds the instrument up.  After all these years, I just tell the student, "just do it."  lol

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