Teaching vibrato

Being intentional with vibrato
Recently I’ve talked to both teenage and adult students regarding being intentional about playing with vibrato. While practicing three octave scales, I’ve noticed students slipping in and out of playing with vibrato. Rather than dictating having them play one way or the other, I’ve talked to students about the pros and cons of practicing with vibrato.

Practicing without vibrato
I start here because in my own practicing I use scales to work on intonation, tone production, and physical warm up. The intonation part seems obvious to me because vibrato alters intonation. For both intonation and tone production work, I want to hear the core of each pitch. I want to hear deep inside the note to make sure I’m getting the best possible sound. In terms of physical warm up, it makes sense to initially hold off on vibrato because it is yet another layer of technical challenge.

Practicing with vibrato
My recommendation in terms of practicing with vibrato is to be consistent. If you choose to practice scales with vibrato, make sure that each note is played with it. Make sure that the vibrato is the same for each note and finger. If you want to play with “hand” vibrato, don’t suddenly slip into an arm vibrato. In general I discourage my students from using finger vibrato. However, the exception to this would be playing at the very end of the fingerboard.

Violinist Linda Beers is the creator of the Inspiration for Violinists, a 50 card deck. Each card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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