Vibrato is one of the most common violin playing techniques. It is the soul of the violin and gives the instrument a beautiful sound. Many people learn the basics of the violin quite well, but when it comes to practising vibrato, they encounter a bottleneck and remain at a standstill. In this issue, we would like to introduce you to the methods of practising vibrato on the violin, which we hope will help those who are learning to vibrate.
There are three types of vibrato: arm vibrato, wrist vibrato and finger vibrato. These three different types of vibrato naturally have different effects.
Arm vibrato relies mainly on the tremolo of the small arm and sounds passionate and full. Wrist vibrato relies mainly on wrist tremolo, which sounds spacious and gentle. Finger vibrato, on the other hand, relies on finger joint tremolo and sounds soft and delicate. Mastering these three different types of vibrato, and using them with ease, will naturally bring the tone of the instrument into an extraordinary state of beauty. Unfortunately, many players become accustomed to a particular vibrato method from the outset. As a result, the tone of their playing becomes poor and monotonous.
The difference between arm vibrato and arm vibrato is that with wrist vibrato there is less variation in pitch and the expression is more delicate, making it suitable for sweeter passages. The arm vibrato is more varied in pitch, and is suitable for the more rugged sections. It is important to know both types of vibrato in order to have a complete understanding of vibrato.
Both types of vibrato are similar in that both fingers move, but the point of attack is different, one from the arm and the other from the wrist.
Once we know the basic vibrato, what do we need to pay attention to in advance during practice?
A special note: It is important to note that many children do not learn vibrato properly when they first start. One is that the tremolo is too fast and uncontrollable, resulting in a spasmodic trembling sound like the bleating of a goat. The other is that the movement is too slow and the wrist twists erratically, resulting in a sound like a gramophone without a full bar. The correct way to learn how to vibrate a string is to first learn how to vibrate the wrist. This can be done by placing the arm on the thigh or arm of a chair, then relaxing the wrist and shaking it back and forth, trying to be even, and then putting it on the fingerboard once you are comfortable with the movement.
Note: Do not pinch between the thumbs and the tiger's mouth. It is important to emphasise the backward movement of the wrist when rubbing the fingers forward and backward on the fingerboard. It is important not to simply knead forward without leaning back.
It is also important to note that when rubbing the wrist forward and backward, the joints of the fingers are driven and the touch points of the fingers are not displaced by the rubbing of the wrist. When practising wrist vibrato, you can start with the third finger. This is because kneading with three fingers makes the action more relaxed, and then you can work on two and one fingers. When practising the fourth finger, the third finger can also be placed close to the fourth finger to help with the vibrato. This will make the trill more comfortable. The wrist vibrato is the basis for learning and becoming familiar with arm vibrato and finger vibrato. The aim is to enrich the expressive power of the instrument and to adapt it to the needs of the various forces and moods. There are, of course, some players who are used to arm vibrato from the very beginning. They can control the amplitude and speed of their arm vibrato with great ease, and with great expressiveness, which is also very valuable. The vibrato in violin playing is like the vibrato of a singer who sings, and one can feel the changes in his breath and emotion. The combination of a good vibrato and a good bowing is as heart-warming and beautiful as the singing.
The biggest problem with vibrato is how to keep the fingers on the strings, but at the same time keep the joints of the fingers relaxed, so that the movement of the arms or wrists can lead to a vibrato effect. (It is important to remember that the fingers are driven by the arm or wrist during vibrato, not by the fingers themselves, and that they should not be used to cause finger movement.)
If you press the strings with your fingers, they will become stiff and immobile. （The correct way to press the strings is to relax the hand and use the weight of gravity to push the fingers downwards, with the fingers themselves hanging on the fretboard like a coat hanger, feeling that the fingers themselves are standing on the fretboard with gravity. (see picture)
So how do we practice this step by step in our daily practice?
Vibrato is an important technique for the violin, making the instrument sound beautiful and full of emotion. How do you practise vibrato and what do you need to be aware of? Today I will explain.
The first step is to clip the violin in place and hold it in place. This is very important because when vibrato practice is in progress, the hands are constantly shaking under tension and it is not reasonable to hold the violin in your hand. The most secure way to hold the violin in place is to find a wall and place a piece of soft cloth on the headstock and hold the headstock vertically against the wall. This is the most stable way to hold the instrument. The force should be controlled, firstly, the force of the wall should be reasonable so as not to damage the instrument. It is important not to lean forward so that some of your weight is applied to the instrument. Only a slight force should be exerted against the wall through the stance. Secondly, the left hand should be held up a little, but not completely loose, hanging on the neck. Otherwise, the headstock will be pulled downwards, causing it to scrape against the wall, even with a soft cloth between them.
The second step is to keep the left hand in the shape of the instrument, loosening it slightly so that the whole left hand is not touching the instrument, and doing a mock vibrato. For arm vibrato, do the arm action, for wrist vibrato, do the wrist action, keeping the neck within the space between the tiger's mouth and the hand grip, but without touching the hand. Let your hands learn to follow the arm-wrist movement without any resistance from the instrument. Keep the rhythm of the movement even and steady.
In the third step, press one playing finger onto the string, with the thumb still in the air, and lift the other fingers to simulate vibrato. It is important to note here that if the thumb is not touching the instrument, the finger pressing the string can only hold the string if the violin is held in place. So it's important to get the first step right. After pressing the last finger, continue with the arm or wrist action as in step 2. There should be no slippage of the finger on the string. This requires a high degree of flexibility in the fingers, not too soft and not too hard. Care must be taken to maintain a good range of finger movement.
The fourth step is to train each playing finger on the strings separately and then to practice vibrato with the thumb resting gently on the neck. This changes the movement of the whole hand to just the palm of the hand. This is because the thumb locks the left edge of the left palm so that the left palm does not move so much with the movement of the arm or wrist. It is necessary to increase the vibrato force and relax the muscles of the palm so that the range of motion of the vibrating fingers is restored to that of the thumb when it is suspended.
The fifth step is to draw the bow during the vibrato, which is not easy. At this point, the instrument is still on the wall. The bow has to be drawn slowly and gently, and the brain has to be carefully coordinated. In particular, the left hand should be fast and regular, the right hand slow and steady, and the right hand should not be influenced by the left hand, so that the bowing is consistent. Listen carefully for vibrato. If there is only movement but no sound effect, or if the sound effect is weak, the fingertips pressing the strings are probably too stiff, the arm or wrist movement is not strong enough, or the thumb is too tight and the palm is too hard, and needs to be adjusted.
Step 6: Remove the instrument from the wall, vibrate the strings with the instrument in your hand, draw the bow and test the results.
Each step of the basic vibrato takes time to become familiar with and adjust, and cannot be done quickly. Stability, movement, amplitude and rhythm should be as good as possible, which can be unpleasant at first and can lead to impatience. The average child learning to vibrate needs between half a month and a month of specific training before they can use vibrato in their violin playing.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)