Learning how to play the violin unlocks a whole new world to you. On the other hand, learning vibrato technique brings magic into the music world. The vibrato technique is arguably one of the best things to ever happen to the music world. From notable pieces like Claire de Lune, Bach's Chaconne, to Beethoven's Romance no.1, you can play the best pieces written by simply learning how to do vibrato on violin.
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What is Vibrato In Music?
Music education has a lot of pleasant surprises, one of them being vibrato. If you can say "pa-da-da-da-da-da.." really fast, you have an idea of what vibrato sounds like. Vibrato motion can happen in different ways on different instruments. However, the violin has a special technique that makes the sound well sought in the music world.
Vibrato is the pulsating sound an instrument produces that adds emotion and character to the music. Remember, the vocal box is a musical instrument. The violin vibrato is more interesting because you can have a unique vibrato movement from other movements. We will discuss how you can manipulate the violin neck and strings when playing vibrato to achieve master-level techniques.
Which are the Vibrato Techniques on the Violin?
Before you start learning vibrato, you need to know which vibrato motion you are going for. There exists three main techniques you can use to practice vibrato. You need to choose between the following techniques to know which one you want to start learning. It might be hard at first because the professionals play intense vibrato. However, you have to start slow as with every other musical instrument. The main goal is to build muscle memory and strength that you can use to execute the technique. Use the following techniques to achieve vibrato.
1) Arm Vibrato
The arm and hand are divided into independent parts that can perform complex functions independent of each other. If you want to learn vibrato, you need to know where to draw your strength. You have to use your arms to get the technique right in this particular technique.
The part of your arm that you will use is the elbow to the forearm. You are not employing the use of the wrist to get the vibrato sound in this case. Learning violin vibrato requires a relaxed approach that is accurate and well placed. The arm vibrato can help you achieve optimal vibrato motion on your instrument.
Achieving vibrato on the violin using the arm method keeps the wrist, fingers, and arm as a single unit. The three portions of the arms act as a single unit with the same motion to achieve both fast and slow vibrato. This technique is slower than the others and is used in slow, melancholic music. The technique is perfect because it works for right and left-hand users. Practicing vibrato motion using the arm vibrato is the simplest of all the methods.
2) Wrist Vibrato
Instead of using the entire arm to achieve the vibrato, you can use the wrist to achieve the same for your violin performance. Vibrato on the violin is a controlled movement aimed to achieve musical sense when played correctly. Violin playing is a brain over brawns activity, and getting the activities right could mean the difference between playing vibrato like a professional and a beginner.
Wrist vibrato helps you achieve the intense sound that the arm vibrato method might find difficult. You can achieve great intensity with relaxed movements, which is an ironic statement, but achievable. Vibrato is created by hand motions that are well-timed and executed and should not be feared but embraced.
In this method, your forearm will stay put as the base of your wrist moves to create the beautiful vibrato on the violin. Violin students have to learn how to localize the movements of the muscles to avoid confusing the methods. This technique allows all your fingers to move together with the wrist but restricts the arm from making any movements. You will not achieve this over one practice session, and you have to be consistent to get anywhere with any musical instrument.
3) Finger Vibrato
This vibrato can be achieved using quick and fine movements of the fingers. You can achieve a good vibrato using this method. This method comes in handy when playing high up on the neck of the violin. All four strings have a characteristic sound that is amazing when combined correctly. However, when you play the higher notes, you want to achieve precise notes delicately placed close to each other. Luckily, you have the finger vibrato technique to achieve such feats.
The base knuckle needs to be loose for good intonation purposes when using this method. This type of vibrato is not the easiest to go about, and you need the knuckle base to execute the technique correctly. Also, you need to have your arm stable to achieve this method, which comes with experience. This technique is meant to achieve scales and arpeggios that add spice to the piece. However, just like mastering slow scales first and later playing them fast, you have to start slow.
Here are some tips to get the three techniques that we have talked about going;
How to Develop a Strong Vibrato
As we might have hinted, developing a beautiful vibrato means practicing consistently and intentionally to achieve the technique. Your finger moves can not be learned at once. Take your time and use these steps to perfect your craft;
You have to start with the pre-vibrato activities to get the blood flowing in your fingers and wake your muscles up. You want to ensure both your fretting fingers and the bow hand is warmed up. Loosen up one finger at a time, ensuring other fingers get a similar treatment as the previous one. Next, make circular movements on the fingers and the thumb. Since the pinky is the weakest of all the fingers, you want to give it the most attention.
For the arm vibrato position warm-up, keep the wrist and arm in one position and shift from the first position to the third position. You want to put the third finger in the first position and act as though you are wiping the strings to the third position. Your arm motion should be completely relaxed during this stage.
ii) Large Motions
Next, you need to practice larger motions by shifting in a half step every time, using all fingers from the index finger to the fourth finger. Again, you need to ensure the violin is well supported before executing this method. Next, move your entire arm back a half step on the board. Again, ensure your wrist does not collapse as you lead the movement by your elbow. Start with your first finger as you attempt this basic motion before engaging other fingers.
The B-note and then the B-flat on the A-string are some notes to try out. As any professional musician should do, use a metronome during these practices. This method will help you achieve a wider vibrato on all four fingers easily.
iii) Isolate the Wrist
The wrist vibrato is wider than the finger vibrato but shorter than the arm vibrato. The violin vibrato is a technique that needs some getting used to, and you will find yourself using the wrist vibrato most of the time. The first thing to try is create a knocking motion. Once you put your finger on the note, the wrist should move towards the pegs.
This method can help you learn vibrato, and you can push it further by relaxing your finger and gently knocking on the pegs to see if the method is working.
iv) Use a Metronome
The metronome is the heartbeat of any music professional. Use a metronome every time you practice. Every. Time. You can increase the metronome as you get better. Look at it as playing a game, and the faster the metronome, the closer you are to the final boss.
It all happens in mind. So before you get the violin vibrato, you need to have it happen in the mind. One way to do that is to air-bow during practice. Before you know it, violin vibrato will come to you like an impersonated genius.
vi) Focus on Correct Notes and Tone
There will be no point driving your left hand to its breaking point only to play wrong notes. It would be wrong for the second finger to hold the wrong note messing up the flow of the rich vibrato. Keep your vibrato relaxed, and do not be in a rush. Let your arm loose and listen to your violin teacher. Use the correct rolling motion and finger contact to get clearer notes in a lively song.
Soon enough, you will have a strong left wrist, and the fire engine siren will be a breeze to sample. Likewise, your right arm technique will be solid as it moves backwards and forwards. Remember, it's all in the muscle memory.
We are glad you made it this far. You will get a bonus tip; practice every single day! Practice right and consistently. Remember that consistency will beat talent any day, and it is no different when it comes to playing the violin.