Basic Vibrato

There are actually four kinds of vibrato: wrist, arm, finger, bow. That’s in order of how often its used for most violin and viola players – though sometimes they are combined. In this post we will discuss wrist vibrato.

The basic rules of vibrato are as following:

1. Vibrato should be used carefully – better too little than too much vibrato.
2. Vibrato means moving from the main note, then down/flat, then back to the main note. Vibrato never goes higher than the main note.


Technique for Wrist Vibrato

Let us look at how the arm, wrist, and hand should move.

Note that while the wrist and the fingers move, the part where the wrist meets the upper arm stays stable.

Tips for Vibrato

Here are some tips to making vibrato if the hand feels stiff and cannot move.
1. The hold of the violin with one’s head (not just with the pressure from the chin) is the most important thing. Without this, the hand needs to hold the violin too tight and there can be no vibrato.
2. Look at the graph again. Try a very slow vibrato, starting from one note, and moving slowly down, and back again. Try with the third finger, which is the easiest for vibrato.
3. Think about the knuckle of the index finger, or this area:

Think about how this section of the hand moves in line with the neck of the instrument. If you have your thumb below the violin neck, then this part of the palm should move along the side of the neck. If you have your thumb to the side, then it should gently touch the neck.


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