Vibrato

Another lesson, another milestone – well, it is to me, anyway.  She’s been teasing me with it for a while, but yesterday we spent most of the lesson on introducing me to some techniques for producing vibrato on the violin.  On one hand I’ve been itching to get going on it, but on the other I’ve known that it will negatively impact my ability to sound decent for a while, so I’ve also had some ambivalence about it as my tone production has been on a steady climb.  I’ve also just had tons of stuff to occupy my practice time otherwise.  But obviously the long game requires vibrato, so overall I’m pleased as can be to be at this spot.

It will be hard.  I guess I knew that going in too – I’ve actually worried whether I will even be able to do it; I don’t think this sort of movement comes naturally to me.  I was chatting with Michael about it last night and he found my concerns ridiculous.  He thinks my body’s training – with my years of karate and the fine motor control it brings – make it clear that I’ll do just fine.  He kind of challenged me to be fast and good at it since I can draw on that training.  I’m hoping he’s right and I do always like a challenge!

But it will be hard.  It’s not a specific, precise dimension that the hand has to move on – in some ways it seems more about what NOT to move.  The hand, you might have noticed, is all one piece, so isolating half of it that needs to oscillate while keeping that same oscillating half contorted into fingering positions while keeping the other half still as it cradles the instrument is a tall order.  An extremely tall order.  Just when I’m starting to bow smoothly and boldly, incorporating the bowing arm into this equation is also a challenge.

I was interested to learn that we go down, versus up, in pitch from the base note as we vibrate the finger in contact with the strings.  The middle two fingers seem easier to work with than the index and pinky.  I’ll do exercises a lot (at this point these exercises truly sound worse than those first few months of playing!) then slowly I’ll try to incorporate vibrato into the longer notes that I play, on songs with which I’m quite familiar.  I will progress by adding it in on notes until vibrato becomes second nature.  Teacher says developing regularity of the vibrato and getting the movement down will definitely take some time.  I said, “about a year?”  she said, “That’s what they tell me,” and then continued, “Some people take two or three.”

I’ve got time.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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