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When should a beginning violin student start learning vibrato?

6 Responses
Posted: July 24, 2010
Last Comment: March 23, 2011

Posted: March 23, 2011
I asked my teacher the other how long it took him to learn vibrato. He surprised me when he told me he didn't have any trouble with it. Of course, when I talked to him about finger vibrato. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Posted: March 22, 2011
when i get brave, i'll post a video. i belong to a photography forum and the most improvement comes when you post and other people critique it. I know i want to not to show off but to learn. thanks for an awesome forum and site.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 22, 2011
I start vibrato when a students have "mastered" (this term is relative, of course) basic right arm technique. Being able to play with a full tone, keeping the bow straight, and staying at the sounding point without being constantly reminded is so important. Integrating vibrato into playing is left hand intensive and absorbs all available concentration.

Also, because vibrato is one of those techniques that requires consistent practice, I usually don't introduce it in earnest until I know they are ready to commit.

Now having said that, there is no harm in doing vibrato exercises without the bow any time. (I demonstrate the exercises in the first few videos in the vibrato series).

The other thing I look for before starting vibrato is reasonably correct intonation. Excellent intonation is a life-long pursuit, but I at least like to see that the student is becoming sensitive and is able to adjust their intonation. Once vibrato is on the scene, it can obscure that sensitivity to intonation.

It really is a case-by-case kind of thing. I have a student now in middle school who started using vibrato 6 months after he began playing. I have another student, the same age, who has been playing for 5 years and is just now starting.

Would love to hear you play!

Posted: March 22, 2011
i know this is an old thread but i want to expand. what skills are you looking at when you think someone may be ready? what is usually taught first, shifting or vibrato? i may be rushing this for myself, but i want to have goals in order to motivate myself.

Posted: July 27, 2010
Diane, this is SO interesting, what you say, about the 'shaking the vitamin bottle' exercise, to do it daily and after a year it will have a 'profound' effect on the vibrato. Wherever I see this exercise mentioned no-one says how long to do it for so one 'assumes' you do it for a week or a month at most then you go onto the next exercise and so on, that is what I assumed anyway, now that you said that I will do it religiously every day FOREVER, after all it takes only 30 seconds in 4 snippets of your day, you can do this anywhere really, I certainly can do it in my 'desk' job during the week or in bed while I fall asleep :) :)

Posted: July 26, 2010
Cathy - I consider vibrato from the very beginning. While you are shaping your left hand keep in mind that you will be doing vibrato and your left hand and thumb need to be relaxed and not squeezing. The other thing you can do now is hold a shaker, vitamin bottle, whatever in your left hand, hold your arm up violin style, and gently roll your hand forwards and backwards the full range of motion. Hear the things inside your shaker rolling around. I usually assign this for 30 seconds, 4 different times during practice. Slow up to a medium speed is all you need. 1 year later this exercise has a profound effect on vibrato!