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Lesley
hi V-labbers,

just wondering: when you do vibrato, how much of the weight of the violin does your thumb carry?
Lesley
13 Responses
Posted: June 12, 2019
Last Comment: June 17, 2019
Replies

Dianne
Posted: June 17, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Hi Lesley, don't forget @ Elke's device to free up the left hand. That way you can relax the left shoulder and train the vibrato freely.

Kate
Posted: June 17, 2019
Hi Lesley, yes - really happy. Hold is feeling very stable - still lots to do on left hand and general posture etc. but it is really helping not having to keep 'adjusting' 😀

Lesley
Posted: June 17, 2019
Thanks again for your answers, folks.  A 'flexible' hold (with the violin balanced between the thumb, base-of-first-finger and chin/collarbone) does seem to be the thing to aim for. No clamping, no death grip, just light and flexible and very mobile, yet secure. That's the ideal, right?

Except for me, right now trying to reach this Zen-like fluidity (my mission since deciding to learn vibrato) is resulting in shoulder and neck pain/tension... clearly I am doing something very wrong! I think the culprit may be my set up. My violin doesn't feel super-secure when I hold it up with my chin only -- there is a tendency to slip. So I am busy trying out different shoulder rests and will also be ordering a Wave (Kate, are you still happy with yours?) And sometimes I also play without the shoulder rest, just to see what that does. My thinking is, if I can achieve even partial relaxation without a SR, then maybe it will be even easier once I eventually achieve my perfect set-up.

Kate
Posted: June 16, 2019

Lesley, I can't help with vibrato (not there yet) and I am a beginner so may have this wrong but I have been working really hard on my hold and I think there's a big difference between contact with index finger/ neck and being 'stuck'. I 'rested' on my index knuckle but it was literally balancing on the knuckle holding the violin like a shelf and was like someone had applied a dot of superglue. It didn't feel like squeezing in but I couldn't move it away from the neck when I wanted to. In my lessons I was told it was OK 'for the stage I was at', but even though it might have looked OK - no obvious 'grip' - I knew it wasn't feeling right. Now I'm aiming for 'flexible contact', so it grazes the neck but can move at will although I think the padding on my lower fingers make it difficult to see the difference (I've tried videoing but it doesn't really show it). If you look at that Oistrakh video you can see his index finger releasing and returning to the neck as he plays - there isn't an obvious gap, but the relaxed movement is there. In other words contact and 'grip' might look the same but they feel very different.



Barbara Habel
Posted: June 15, 2019
Dear Lesley

You are right what that video of Oistrakh shows.

But watch his thumb.

It is pretty low on the neck as so to release a death grip.

That does not mean that you and I will be able to play with his technique. We are all different. Have different bodies and technique.

Try it out the way he does it and watch that thumb. Can you do it?

AND:

I hold my violin up between the thumb and the base of the first finger. Just as you mentioned you are doing it yourself. That is correct technique from what I have learnd with 4 teachers. Only for vibrato you release the ("death") grip.

Barb Wimmer
Posted: June 14, 2019
I am challenged with vibrato- I have tried just putting my thumb away from violin like I am hitchhiking because I know when I vibrato I put too much pressure there. I think it is a guide somehow though with what Dianne said. 

Ted Adachi
Posted: June 14, 2019
Hi Lesley,
I really hold the violin with my chin and shoulder only but that's just the way I got used to doing it.

So I tried to vibrate without holding the violin with my chin so my left hand pretty well held up the violin (mostly with the first finger knuckle). While it felt different and uncomfortable, I think with time I'd probably be able to do vibrato like that so I don't think holding the violin will necessarily be a problem though I find it easier (maybe because I am used to it) if my left hand is free.

Lesley
Posted: June 14, 2019
Thank you Ted, for those very helpful visual metaphors! Being a visual learner, it's much easier for me to understand pictures than theory.

Barbara, I confess: I do jump back and forth between wrist and arm vibrato -- you have caught me out! {8-[  Worse, I have most definitely not been systematic with the videos. My idea of 'methodical' is to sporadically do the wrist flings while watching TV (timing them to whatever music is onscreen, or else just making up a beat). In fact, I'd really like to be able to just "do it" without the annoyance of having to learn. I know, ridiculous!! Sigh.

Here's another question. I've heard from many sources that the left hand must be able to "release" the neck in order to do vibrato (hence the shoulder rest). But then if you look at this video of David Oistrakh, you can see he is doing the complete opposite! I ask because I notice that I often support the violin with the base knuckle of my first finger (even though I use a shoulder rest) and I am wondering if this is a bad thing.

Barbara Habel
Posted: June 14, 2019
Dear Lesley and Ted

I consent Teds explanation. It is very visual and Ted can express what I can not.

I play without a shoulder rest so my thumb carries the neck. But it does not feel as if I am carrying a load. More like the seesaw Ted is talking about.

And what makes that seesaw is the high angle of the finger. And then you move back and forth. You can play with a lower angle of the finger but that is harder to play as a beginner.

Both high and lower angle of the finger give their own sound of vibrato. So you should aim for both to be played once you are more familiar with playing vibrato.

Unless you are some prodigee like MsPolkaDotz who used to post here - you will take some months and years to learn vibrato. There is no quick fix. Be patient. You are going through childhood diseases just like everyone else.

Post a video Lesley.

That helped me a lot with my vibrato. And even though I have a teacher I could not get on with her teaching of vibrato.

So the vibrato I have is 100 percent Beths ViolinLab teachings.

And this website does include other teachers help on vibrato too. And Beths videos are systematic. One bit after the other. Stick with it. Do not change your mind back and forth between wrist and arm vibrato. Stick to one and learn it.

You can do it!!!

Ted Adachi
Posted: June 13, 2019
Hi Lesley,
I don't know if this is going to make sense to you but my thumb is more like a fulcrum than a support. The 'seesaw' is not the violin but the tip of the finger.

So there is like an invisible line, drawn through the violin neck that connects the tip of the finger to the tip of the thumb and the finger 'rocks' over that point. So in a way, the thumb doesn't really support the neck at all because the neck doesn't enter into the picture, as it were.

Lesley
Posted: June 12, 2019
Thank you, kind people. I sort of thought the thumb was supposed to be minimally involved... But then today I was thinking, surely the thumb has some sort of rapport with the vibrating fingertip? Not like a clamp exactly, but kind of.

Progress is slow. At present, I'm in this kind of vibrato no-man's-land where a relaxed first knuckle inevitably means sliding right off the note, but trying to fix this with a bit of pressure results in clutching and/or a rigid knuckle, both of which kill vibrato dead!

Michael Baumgardner
Posted: June 12, 2019
I think a lot of folks use their thumb to carry a lot of the weight when vibrating because they are pressing down hard to get the vibrato going and things tighten.  However, I assume that is not proper technique.  My best vibrato occurs, like most things with the violin, when everything is relaxed.  The vibrato motion need not theoretically exert any additional weight on the violin.  The little that it might should be not very noticeable in terms of thumb engagement.  That's what I try for anyway.

Dianne
Posted: June 12, 2019
This is another great question. I think I have more of a feeling of a hanging and loose finger, where the violin is positioned on the thumb but the thumb seems passive, but reacting to the vibrato. I'll have to try this again tomorrow to see for sure.