For two weeks in a row now we’ve zeroed in on vibrato in my lessons. I’ve been working with the technique for over a year now, in fits and starts, and I can’t deny that I’ve made some real progress – but I still have so far to go. This is my mantra with the violin: plenty of progress, but still so far to go! As is the case with many physical skills, it can take a while working with something before needed course corrections become visible.
Happily, Teacher has helped me identify two vibrato corrections that I’m starting to make. The most significant is my tendency to move the whole instrument, which itself is related to two things – the angle of the movement of my wrist and the involvement of my bicep. The wrist movement is tricky, and it’s complicated by the angle of approach to the strings that I’m always working with on the left hand, so it’s a dynamic interplay – a lot of moving parts to put together. As to the bicep, I just need to relax and leave it out of the game entirely – I’m not doing push-ups, I’m trying to wiggle my wrist! The action puts a bit of a strain on the forearm that my body seems inclined to push further up the arm.
The second primary problem is the degree to which I’m relaxed and the ability of my hand to move freely and with enough of a motion to make the sound. Relaxing everything all the time and on multiple dimensions is probably the most fundamental of all fundamentals on the violin. And when we humans are trying hard to do something relaxation can be tricky.
Teacher says vibrato is hard for most people, and that teaching it is also hard because very different approaches work for different people. I also know from my online explorations that there are plenty of methods and ways of describing the technique that teachers try, and that at the end of the day we students just have to put our noses to the grindstone and make it happen. Vibrato has risen to the fore as a primary point of focus; it’s time.
Thanks for reading.