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How to Do Vibrato on Violin 

 May 31, 2021

By  Zen Chung

Learning vibrato is one of those skills that you need to have as a violinist. As a new student, you might be excited about how to do vibrato on violin. Nonetheless, you need to ensure that you learn the process step by step because once you develop the wrong way of doing it, it's hard to go back.

Also known as the 'finger shake,' finger vibrato can make an intermediate player sound like an advanced player. This is why today, we're looking at the best way to carry out the vibrato technique so that you can improve your skills significantly.

Beautiful vibrato can also add richness, fullness, and variety to your playing. Patience is key when learning this important skill, and we'll take you step by step through everything you need to know.

Steps to Do Vibrato On Violin

Step 1

The first step when practicing vibrato is to ensure that your left hand, arm, and wrist are relaxed. After this, practice slowly moving your hand and arm up your violin neck towards the body of your violin and then back down towards the scroll of your instrument.

There are two ways that you can practice this technique:

a). By keeping your finger on the screen without pushing the string down

b). By relaxing your hand slightly above the violin skin without any finger contact

While you're moving your arm up and down, add the bow to the picture. Don't be surprised if your violin vibrato sounds like a fire engine siren or a sick cow. That's part of the process.

Tip:

For better and faster results, set aside a couple of minutes from your practice sessions to complete this exercise. Practicing vibrato is a key step in ensuring that you get better.

Step 2

The second step is to put your first finger on the string and use your entire arm to make slow, broad, relaxed back and forth hand motions.

Ensure that your arm is stable the entire time you are doing this basic motion. Continue moving your hand back towards the scroll and then back to its original position. You can use all four fingers on all four strings as you continue the same motion.

You'll find that your second finger and your third finger are the easiest to move. Your first finger and fourth finger will be a little more difficult.

However, with daily practice, you'll notice that it becomes easier.

Tip:

You can have someone gently hold your wrist or arm in place as you start learning vibrato. This is to ensure that your wrist doesn't collapse towards the neck of your instrument. Before you get used to it, having someone hold your wrist as you do the movement will allow you to get better.

You can also visualize a string attached to your knuckles on the back of your left wrist that's pulling straight towards your scroll.

Step 3

Step 3 on the vibrato movement is a direct continuation of step 2, where you add your bow using slow counts while you change the bow smoothly. As you continue to learn vibrato, you'll notice that your violin continues to sound better.

However, when you first start with this part, the vibrato sound will not be pleasant. Don't worry, continue trying. Remember, practice vibrato makes perfect.

One thing to note is that you shouldn't include good vibrato practice with your violin practice sessions. What you need is a few minutes daily, and you'll be fine. We understand that it can be physically and mentally exhausting, but we encourage you to keep going.

Step 4

This step is a bit more fun than the rest. Choose one of your slow favorite songs and add the vibrato technique in step 3 to the long and slow notes. Take your time and remember to go easy on yourself. This is not a violin performance. This is part of your music education.

Step 5

One part of learning control and which speed and technique work for you is understanding your option. For vibrato exercises, there are different styles of vibrato. We'll look at these in brief in the last section.

This step is for you to understand the different styles and try to find which works for you.

Step 6

One exercise is not enough. It would help if you had several exercises to get better. Many students start but don't finish. Ensuring that you put in the work for a few months will allow getting better as you continue learning music and tone.

Don't try to achieve the same motion or level that professionals are in. They took a while to get to that position. Try these exercises at different speeds and see how your motion improves and changes. Think of this as a long-term project and ensure that you are completely relaxed as you go through the steps.

Trying to figure everything out at once will leave you with a 'shaking vibrato.' Therefore, take your time and practice each time you get a chance.

Styles of Vibrato

1. Wrist Vibrato

This style involves only using your wrist. This vibrato is fast but shallow. It allows you to create an intense sound and is great when playing a fast and lively song.

If you like this style, perfect steps two and three above.

2. Arm Vibrato

Your left hand may need some massage after playing vibrato. This style is slower and broader. You'll only use your arm movement, as we've seen in step 1. Unlike the wrist vibrato above, this vibrato motion is about your arm.

Ensure that your index finger and other fingers are stabilized and kept in place. Avoid sudden movements of your index finger as this is not finger vibrato. Your left hand comes in handy here.

If you are a fan of sad, slow pieces, you'll love this motion. This style adds depth and emotion to your playing.

3. Combination of Arm and Wrist

You'll find that more experienced players often use a combination of these two styles. With more exercise, your neck and fingers will adapt, and you'll do this technique effortlessly. Start slow and find your unique practice vibrato.

As you discover your practicing vibrato, you'll find that you are slowly combining these two techniques. The arm vibrato will become very easy for you, and your vibrato motion will become effortless.

You won't have to worry about a wide vibrato with time. Once you get through the entire half-step, you'll be well on your way to mastering this combination. Every piece is different and will require a different rolling motion. For example, when playing Mozart, you may need to do a narrow vibrato.

Conclusion

We hope that you've learned how to do vibrato on violin with these simple steps. Let us know which step you enjoy the most. We always love hearing from you. 

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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