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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quick Practice Tip: Continuous Vibrato Exercise


Here is a neat little tip I learned during a recent cello master class that my colleague, Dr. Karla Hamelin, gave at Texas State University. The student in the master class had lovely vibrato, but the student did not use the vibrato continuously. Instead, the student would vibrate obvious long notes, and then continue the passage without vibrato. In effect, since the student selectively used vibrato, the notes that were vibrated stood out apart from the notes that were not vibrated and vice versa.

Dr. Hamelin showed the student a little exercise to help develop the student's continuous use of vibrato. She asked the student to choose a particularly resonant note (in the case of the cello, she suggested the note "G" on the cello D string). Then she began to vibrate on the fourth finger while she drew a long slow down bow. As she changed to a slow up bow, she slipped her ring finger onto the same note and continued the vibrato without stopping the vibrato between the fourth and third fingers. Then as she changed to another down bow, she slipped her middle finger onto the note without stopping the vibrato. Finally, she changed to up bow and vibrated on the note with her first finger. She performed this exercise entirely without stopping the vibrato. After going through each finger one time, she reversed the process beginning with the index finger first.

I tried the exercise myself shortly thereafter and was delighted with the results. I found it easy to continue the vibrato because I could hear when the vibrato stopped between fingers. By using the same note, I could hear myself continue the vibrato on the note. I used the note "E" on the violin A string. The exercise could be the note "A" on the viola D string.

Try this exercise for yourself. The exercise is short and can be easily performed as part of a warm up routine.

For other articles about vibrato, visit these links:

Vibrato: An Introduction to the Five States of Teaching and Learning It
What is Vibrato? -- Preparing for the Big Event
Vibrato: Pig Nose & Wibble Wobbles
Teaching Tip: Using Italian Vibrato for Speed and Control

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I will try this suggestion now and see if it helps. My vibrato stops when I change bow but not when I change fingers.

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