When do you start teaching vibrato, and which kind?

Julianne Gunn said: Aug 20, 2014
Julianne GunnViolin
Louisville, KY
1 posts

Hello! I have a very dedicated young student who just began violin book 3. I am currently working on shifting exercises as she will need them later on in the book. She is a great practicer, and her mom is involved in all her practicing at home and takes notes during our lessons, etc. Her setup is wonderful.

She wants to start vibrato, and I want to get her started! Out of all my students, she would practice diligently and work on it every day. Is there a “wrong” or “right” time to start vibrato?

Also, I was taught wrist vibrato, but had a new teacher in high school that changed it to an arm vibrato. Now I have a strange hybrid vibrato that takes a lot of work to iron out! I want to start this student on the right track. Which vibrato (arm or wrist) is better long-term?

Thanks so much!

Julianne Gunn

Barbara Stafford said: Aug 20, 2014
Barbara Stafford
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Plano, TX
59 posts

It sounds like a great situation you have there with that motivated student! Most of my students begin at an older age, and so I try to start them into vibrato by the end of one year, or during their second year— after their first position technique is pretty decent and they have begun a little 3rd position playing. I try to start with wrist vibrato exercises. As it goes along, some students have such a hard time with wrist vibrato that I try out arm vibrato with them. In the end, I will go with whatever seems to work, but emphasize that we are choosing one kind of vibrato for the time being and that that they should still explore the other kind at a future point. I think it is nice when students can choose which vibrato they want to use, and not just be stuck with one kind or another for every song. And I was taught there is nothing wrong with a mixed vibrato like you are describing in your own playing. But a vibrato I feel confused about is the knuckle vibrato…. if anyone has any comments about knuckle, or joint, or finger vibrato please let me know… over the years, I have had a few students that seem to wiggle from the knuckle and I never know if I should accept or discourage this. I hope you get lots of great comments—I am sure you will!

Heather Figi said: Aug 31, 2014
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

I think the timing is great for this student you are working with! Please let us know how this goes.

To get started, I wanted to recommend Rebecca Henry’s left hand technical series that are easy for students of all levels to grasp and create a great foundation for vibrato. I was lucky enough to do some workshops with her years ago but unsure how to get these now.

Best wishes,
Heather

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