vibrato problem


Rose Lander said: Sep 11, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
55 posts

dear teachers,
i have successfully taught vibrato to my students for many years. i was even amazed with the beautiful vibrato i was able to teach my students on skype!
here is the problem. i have gone through many, many series of vibrato exercises (violin lab, kaminsky) with a ten year old for an entire year. he does practice the excercises most days. he can play single notes with an acceptable vibrato with fairly decent tone. but, for the last month, when i asked him to use vibrato in his tone exercise , the tone became terriblly scratchy.s if he plays his tonalization, the sound is quite acceptable. but when he attempts to use vibrato on those same notes, everything falls apart.
any suggestions will be most gratefully accepted.
rose lander

Sue Hunt said: Sep 12, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Could it be tension in the shoulders? Like a hosepipe, if you restrict it anywhere along its length, it stops a free flow of water. As a late beginner, I didn’t pay attention to tension in my left shoulder and vibrato was just a step too far. Vibrato was fine as long as I rested the scroll on a shelf, but as soon as I took the weight of the instrument, it tensed up again.

My remedy was to go back to relearn a super relaxed pre twinkle violin hold, then advancing to violin hold games and the early pieces in book 1.

The goal is to get through each one with back, shoulder and upper arms still soft and supple. As soon as I feel something tensing up, I stop and do something different for a few minutes. Once I get it right, the whole process gives my body a deep attunement.

Encourage deep focus by making goals very clear and specific as this can seem very nit picky to a 10 year old who is already playing advanced repertoire. Include lots of violin hold games and vary the content or you will find a student loosing focus and heart.

Irene Mitchell said: Sep 12, 2013
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
111 posts

yup, I agree with Sue.
Check the shoulder rest/chin (jaw) rest, too. They may need changing, especially if he has grown a lot lately.
I prefer for the violin to be on top of the shoulder, parallel with the floor. You could use sponges, Kun and Bonmusica shoulder rests, depending on the shoulder structure of the child. Make sure the chinrest doesn’t have a sharp edge. (I find success with the Guarneri soft edge/flat cup; lately I have personally found comfort with my new ‘Kreddle’: )
Check how he stands in relation to his music stand; if he is facing the stand with his belly, the weight of the violin will be in his hand. If he points the violin to the stand over the top of the shoulder (think nose, scroll, elbow, toe), the weight of the violin will be on the shoulder. Also make sure the bottom of the stand is as high as his shoulders, so the violin doesn’t droop and have to be supported by the hand. If the violin is supported by relaxed shoulders and the weight of the head, the left hand is free to shift and vibrate.
We often do ‘Brain Gym’ exercises when there is confusion between sides of the brain:
Hope that helps! :o) Irene

Irene Mitchell

Kathleen Connolly said: Sep 13, 2013
2 posts

Irene, how may I obtain a kreddle? I filled out the form on the website months ago and have not heard anything from them. Tanks for any help you can give.

Michelle McManus Welch said: Sep 13, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Lindenhurst, IL
42 posts

Often, I’ve found just stopping vibrato for a couple of months cures most ills- whether tension or whatever. Then, you can check everything else is solid in the meantime. It takes the anxiety away from the student, too.

Michelle Mc Manus Welch

Michelle Mc Manus Welch

Irene Mitchell said: Sep 14, 2013
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
111 posts
Katherine said: Sep 11, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

Has anyone else tried the Kreddle? There is a website now from where they can be purchased.

A parent asked me about the Kreddle this week. Her child is 11/Book I. From what I read about it, I think it is quite sophisticated for a student at this level, and likely less expensive options would serve just as well. This student does not like the Guarneri chin rest on her new 3/4 violin. This student also tends to have drooping posture. We are not near any violin shops where she/we could try some different set ups. Probably I need to have several standard chin rests on hand for kids to try.

Thank you for any thoughts on this!

Heather Figi said: Sep 11, 2014
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

Thank you everyone for sharing. I have never heard of the kreddle before and am very intrigued.

I wanted to add that I use Brain Gym daily on myself and frequently with my students. I have done workshops with a trainer however, you can also go to youtube and search for Brain Gym for some great examples.

Best wishes with your new teaching year!

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