[Video] 5 Exercises to Learn Vibrato on the Violin or Viola

by | Aug 29, 2013 | Learn Vibrato | 14 comments

Would you like to learn vibrato on the violin?

Watch this video with 5 exercises that DO get you the beautiful vibrato you want on the violin.

Just trying to imitate other violinists or violists is NOT the way to learn vibrato.

Where to start learning vibrato?

Just imitating violinists is not the way to learn vibrato. Just wobbling around your finger without knowing what you should do, doesn’t give you a good vibrato. You need to do some preparatory exercises that teach you the motor skills for a good vibrato.

Violin Vibrato Exercise 1: Small Siren

Start doing this exercise with your third finger as it’s easiest, but practice the other fingers just as much after that. Pick a tone on a string. You keep your left thumb on the same spot on the neck of the violin and move your finger over the string while bowing.

The goal is not that this sounds good, but it’s an exercise that teaches you to move your wrist fluently in the direction of the string.

Vibrato has to move in the direction of the string.

If you move your finger from the left to the right, the movement itself can be good, but you won’t hear vibrato.

Do the small siren vibrato exercise with all fingers on all strings in different tempi. It’s important that you get control over the speed of this movement and that you can do it regularly and fluently.

Violin Vibrato Exercise 2: Clean the fingerboard

Put a dry cloth over your violin and clean your whole fingerboard in large movements. This teaches you the vibrato movement in large, making it easier for you to make a fluent motion and learn the movement.

 

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist, teacher and bowing technique nerd helping you play the music you love passionately

Violin Vibrato Exercise 3: Big Siren

This is the same exercise as the small siren, but the movement is larger. You slide your thumb alongside the neck. You use your wrist, but also your lower arm to make the movement over the whole fingerboard.

If has to sound like fluent siren.

Violin Vibrato Exercise 4: Vibrato on the table

This one is very handy when you are on the road, in a boring meeting or at school.

Put your fingertip on a table, bend your finger and make a vibrato movement where you roll over the tip of your finger. The tip says in the same spot and you move around your fingertip. This is what you do in vibrato.

Do you want more vibrato exercise you can do anytime and anywhere without violin? Click here to watch my [Video] Silent Vibrato Exercises with or without Violin.

Violin Vibrato Exercise 5: From Siren to Vibrato

Repeat the small siren movement, make the movement smaller and smaller. At a certain moment you can put your finger tip on the same spot on the string and move your hand around your fingertip. Your fingertip rolls over the string back and forth, like in exercise 4 ‘vibrato on the table’.

Important is that you make a rhythmical and smooth movement. Practicing with a metronome in different rhythms and speeds will certainly help you getting this movement under control. You need to control the speed, as you won’t use the same vibrato in each piece of music. You need to be flexible in the color of your vibrato.

Take your time

Please keep in mind that it can take months of daily practice to learn to make gorgeous vibrato. These exercises will only help you if you apply them daily with attention.

What are your results from doing these exercises? Are they useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!

14 Comments

  1. veizor

    Hello Zlata, lovely tutorial on the vibrato.

    I was curious if putting this exercise would work:
    put the violin on the wall and try the siren but without the bow. It might help to relax and not tense up when practicing.

    I would be curious if there are more advanced tips on vibrato once you learn these? Sort of like a “journey to vibrato”

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Veizor,

      Yes, this is possible and will relax your arm and neck perhaps. One of my students uses a stick that he uses with one end in his mouth (yes, it looks weird, but it works for him) and the other end pointing in the direction as the violin should be. He holds the stick with his left arm as if it is a violin and practices vibrato in this way without violin and bow. The advantage is that you can relax and you don’t have to be afraid that you drop the violin. Perhaps it works for you too… but always be careful of course :).

      I wish you happy practicing and beautiful playing!

      Best regards,

      Zlata M A Brouwer MSc
      Violinist and teacher
      http://www.violinlounge.com

      PS: Have you already attended my FREE online workshop ‘Weight vs Pressure’? Click here to join: https://violinlounge.com/services/free-workshop/

      Reply
  2. Maxine Meloche

    Just got a violin 2weeks ago and am struggling. I have been watching every video of violinists I can find and have noticed they don’t blink. I put some stickers on the neck but they don’t help as I can’t see them. My critics say I practice too much. I get in at least 4 hours of actual playing and then do some study work for the break times. My grand daughter asked me why I am in such a hurry to learn this. I told her it’s because I’m old. You probably don’t think age 68 is too old to learn a new trick, but this is just killing me. My fingers are healing blisters, my arms ache, and my neck hurts. Oh such fun! Thank you for your inspiration. Maxine

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Maxine,

      Wow, your practice discipline is like a conservatory student! You would be my perfect student with such a motivation. Keep on going, but take a lot of breaks so you don’t injure yourself.

      All the best,

      Zlata

      Reply
  3. Michael Wilson

    Hi Zlata,
    Glad you enjoyed yourself on your vacation. Almost made it there once myself in 1992. I have been using all of the exercises and they are almost starting to work. I have one problem though. When I put my finger down to do vibrato, it is hard to keep it in place for the target note. I have hard callouses on the ends of my fingers on my left hand, probably from also playing mandolin a lot. I have tried making the ends of my fingers sticky by getting them wet and rubbing them on the rosin, probably not an approved method. Is slidey fingers a normal type problem or is it just needing to improve my technique?
    Michael

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Michael,

      Perhaps you can try to make a movement with your hand that rolls around your finger, so your finger can stay in the same place better. Some people tend to make a movement that includes their finger, so their finger tends to move up and down the fingerboard. Try to move around it with the finger tip as the center of the movement.

      See if this helps and let me know!

      All the best,

      Zlata

      PS: If you want more in depth vibrato teaching, the Violin & Viola Academy might be just what you need. Go to http://www.violinviolaacademy to find out more.

      Reply
  4. Akhila

    Your tips have been really helping me achieve the vibrato I wanted. My vibrato on my second and third fingers are good, but using my first finger is a little bit tricky. How can I get a good vibrato with my first finger?

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Akhila, the trick is to have some space between the first finger and the neck of your violin. When the first finger is against the neck, it doesn’t have freedom to move. I will make a note to make a video about this. All the best, Zlata

      Reply
  5. Natalia

    Hello, i would like to know if there are other ways of practising vibrato without a violin when your going somewhere.My teacher said something abput leaving a few tic tacs in a pack and shake it like it you are doing vibrato but I still dont understand it and i hoping you can tell me some other ways I can practist. Thank you for reading.
    ~Natalia T.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Natalia,

      There are several vibrato exercises, like the big siren en small siren, that can be done silently with your violin (or something replacing it) sitting down. You’ll learn all about it in Free your vibrato, the 15 week vibrato program in the Violin Lounge Academy (www.violinloungeacademy.com).

      The tic tacs is about shaking them with your wrist, so you loosen up your wrist and learn to do the vibrato movement.

      All the best,

      Zlata

      Reply
  6. Elif

    Hello, I am 12 years old and I have been playing violin for 5 years, I play well. (I am in school orchestra) But I can’t make vibrato, I tried your exercises, It helped but my violin shakes TOO MUCH… Am I doing sth wrong?I love your videos. <3

    ~Elif

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Elif,

      It’s important that the movement of vibrato is in the direction of the strings (not sideways) and around your fingertip. If you want to learn more about vibrato, do the course Free your Vibrato in the Violin Lounge Academy: http://www.violinloungeacademy.com

      Best regards,

      Zlata

      Reply
  7. Maya

    I cannot do virbrato comfortably, and am confused on how to relax and not shake the whole instrument. I have been playing viola in school for about a year and a half, and my teacher is just teaching verbrato. I am also having a bit of trouble doing virbrato on the lower strings (c & g). Is there any way you can help me?

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Maya, let me know if this video helps you stabilize your violin: https://violinlounge.com/how-not-to-move-your-violin-or-viola-when-practicing-vibrato/. For the vibrato on the lower strings, you need a slower and wider vibrato. Both problems you describe are symptoms of having a tensed narrow vibrato without control over the movement. Soon I’ll publish a free mini masterclass all about learning a beautiful vibrato, if you’re interested, subscribe for e-mails on this site. Let me know if this is helpful. All the best, Zlata

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Breathe while Playing the Violin or Viola | Violin Lounge - […] Valyncia asks in a comment on my video ’5 exercises to learn vibrato’ (click here to watch)… […]
  2. Should You Use Arm, Wrist or Finger Vibrato? Or all of them? - Violin Lounge - […] Click here to see my video with vibrato exercises I mention in this video. […]

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