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Violin/Wich Is The Best Vibrato For a Beginner Violinist ?

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Question
Hi again Mr Fisher ! I've been searching violin vibrato online and noticed that there are 3 different types finger, wrest and arm. So I tried to move my fingers on the violin and found that my whole arm moved instead so does that mean that arm vibrato is best for me ? if so, can you please give me a run down on how to do it properly ? thanks

Answer
Hi Divonia,

Thanks for your question.  Yes, we violinists are pretty retentive about how we do things.  Why call it just vibrato, after all, when you can break it down into its various parts and make it sound so much more complicated?

Generally, people talk about arm and wrist vibrato.  That's a natural distinction, since it is possible to play with just one or the other (or both).  Sometimes students use just the wrist, holding the arm (with tension) basically in place.  More often, people keep their wrists stiff and do the vibrato just with the arm.  Neither is ideal (or very healthy in the long-term).  Professionals use both, sometimes more or less of each, depending on the needs of the particular passage.  It's not a conscious thing, generally.  But, a professional player keeps both the arm and wrist relaxed and flexible.  And, years of training teach us to use one or the other (usually some of both) without really thinking.

Not really sure I understand the idea of finger vibrato.  The fingers must remain flexible for any type of vibrato.  And, although it's possible to do vibrato with just the fingers (keeping wrist and arm still) I don't know why anyone would.  I think some teachers talk about finger vibrato in order to emphasize the importance of keeping the fingers flexible.

But, to get to your question specifically . . .  I'm afraid a full discussion of how to do vibrato is beyond the scope of this forum.  There are many posts online if you choose to read about it.  But, the best way is to get a teacher to show you and work with you.  Short of that, there are some great videos on YouTube.  Search YouTube for "ProfessorV Vibrato".  There are also some excellent videos there by other folks on the subject.

You want to learn to do both arm and wrist vibrato.  But, focus first on the motion of the fingers.  The knuckles must flex as the hand moves back and forth.  The key is to keep everything flexible and to not move too fast (at least at first).  Good luck!

Best Regards,
Jim Fisher  

Violin

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James S. Fisher

Expertise

Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.

Experience

I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins, www.fisherviolins.com.

Organizations
NAAM, ASTA

Education/Credentials
I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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