Improve my vibrato - violin goal for September 2016

My violin goals for September

August was certainly an exciting month. In my country the weather changed from cold to hot to cold again, rainy to sunny… lots of changes! So did have my violin playing also ups and downs. I struggled with continuing to play without a teacher or anybody else around. Also I thought I reached a plateau. But if I compare my violin playing with three months ago I can definitely see improvement. My intonation has improved and my tone is also better! :yahoo: Then there was the book-a-thon from Heather Broadbent that motivated me very much! Motivation is not an issue for now. :-) I really want to progress and I notice that in the last couple of months there is at least one thing that hasn’t improved at all. That’s my vibrato. It makes sense of course, since I haven’t practiced vibrato for the last three months. I’ve mainly been focusing on intonation and bow technique. Only occasionally did I add vibrato to the end note of a piece and that’s all… So this month it’s time to work to improve my vibrato.

So what am I going to practice this month?

Technique and scales

  • I’m starting my practice sessions with an exercise from the 52 Violin Proficiency Exercises. I’m at week 20 now which is about how to play chromatic scales. I used to take two weeks for each exercise. But now I will be doing one per week. I know I won’t get it perfect in one week but it’s more motivating and exciting to be able to move on to a different exercise every week.
  • I also still do Fourth Finger Exercises. I’m going through the book for the 2nd time and I’m at page 50 now. I spend like 5 minutes per day working especially on my pinky finger. It’s not that much but if I keep doing it, the results are there.
  • Of course I keep practicing scales with the book Elementary Scales and Arpeggios by F. Ferrari. Last month I repeated C Major, A minor, G Major, E minor, F Major and D minor which means keys without accidentals, with 1 sharp and one flat. This month I will repeat two sharps and two flats. Below is a recording of me playing the scale exercises for D minor.

Improve my vibrato

  • Wohlfahrt Opus 45 etude 13 seems to be a great etude to improve my vibrato. Maybe it’s meant for something else, but that’s what I’ll be using this etude for. Each measure starts with a long note of three quarters. Then there are four 16th notes. I will be focusing on sustaining the long notes and play them with vibrato. It’s really hard, seems like I don’t have enough bow to completely play the long notes. I want them to sound good and full and strong. And I hope to manage that if I improve my vibrato on these notes. For the 16th notes I’ll have to work on intonation to get the fast notes right. Looking forward to it!

Found this video of the Wohlfahrt etude, it sounds great! Hope I can make it sound like that too :-)


  • Suzuki Book 3 piece 3. This is Gavotte by Bach. I’ve already played through it a couple of times and it doesn’t seem to be very hard. That’s great because I will need to put a lot of time and effort in the other piece that I’ve chosen for this month.
  • Suite 1 for Cello, transcribed for Violin available on This piece is so beautiful! I’ve been wanting to play this for a couple of months. Occasionally I’ve been playing it through but never really focused on getting it right. Also it uses 3rd position at the end of the piece, so I never really focused yet on this last part of the piece. It’s going to be a real challenge to play this piece without mistakes, in tune and with a nice tone… But I’m going to try hard to make it work. This is the piece I will be using for my 1 year 4 months progress video!!! Very excited!!

24 thoughts on “Improve my vibrato – my goal for September

  1. Good luck with your vibrato~ Etude number 13 seems really good for that because of the long note. I also have this:
    It says a little about what to pay attention to when practicing it.
    By the way remember that page which had tips for all of the etudes of wohlfahrt op 45? I think the page doesn’t exist anymore. I’m really sad about that because there were such nice indepth explanations… I wish I had saved it to my computer. I doubt you still have it but I’m just going to ask: Do you?

    And also your arpeggios sounded really nice! I also have that scale book but haven’t done anything with it yet..xD

    1. Hi ChibiEdo, thanks for the extra info about the etude. And I know that the other page dissapeared. :-( I have been going back to it several times but it is gone now. Sadly I didn’t make a copy of it either… Oh wait, I may know of a way to find it back. There is this website that keeps archives of websites…

      Found it :yahoo: here it is I’m going to save it right now, because this is indeed a very useful page!! Thanks for reminding me. :-)

      There is/was also a page for opus 54

      I’m using that scale book a lot now, and it’s nice to play the arpeggios and other exercises instead of always just playing the scale. :-)

      How are your pieces progressing?

      1. Oh thank you so much!! I missed the page so much because it was so helpful!
        I only have opus 74 (melodius studies) and 38 (easiest elemtary method). Do you know what Opus 54 is about? is it downloadable as a pdf somewhere?
        I think Heather Broadbent had a wohlfahrt download too but I forgot which one… I think it might have been 45. I really like wohlfahrt etudes and pieces, they usually sound really nice.

        I’m finally at a point where I feel the etudes I’ve been practicing for weeks now are starting to sound nice. I really feel a difference concerning my fourth finger. Because a lot of the pieces I’m practicing right now have slurs from first finger on one string to fourth finger on the other string… or 2nd finger low slurred with 4th finger. (for example boccherini which I’m also working hard on) and elves dance (that terrible measure on the 1st page with first finger g string followed by 4th finger d string. that will take a while till i can do that… but I’m confident I will eventually be able to do it. Otherwise elves dance is already starting to sound nice it’s SO much fun to play and I think practices sautilé? at least I think that’s what the bouncy fast spiccato is called, where the bow almost starts to bounce automatically because of the speed.

        1. You’re welcome. :-) The link Heather added was to Wohlfahrt Opus 45. I found a pdf download for Op 54 here I have never played anything from that book. It seems to be all in first position too. I think it’s at about the same difficulty level as Opus 45. I know there are books that take a selection from Opus 45, 54 and 74 for beginners. So I guess these three are all at about the same level…

          It’s good to hear that you’re progressing with your etudes and the 4th finger!

          Elves Dance is indeed fun to play! I don’t know what the bow technique is called. My bow didn’t bounce, I didn’t do it fast enough to get the bounces I guess? Anyway I focused on trying to play with moving the wrist only. I don’t know what that technique is called. And I know I didn’t manage to play from the wrist entirely but my wrist flexibility certainly did improve with this piece. Enjoy!!

  2. You’re not only one working on vibrato this month :) My teacher assigned me today several exercises to work on it this month. We spend about half of our first lesson after summer break working on the vibration. She wants me also to start working on three octave g major scale. I haven’t played scales with her for a very long time – about a year, so it’s a nice change.
    I won’t be recording anything yet – I have broken the top aluminium layer on my a and d strings while shifting and my teacher insisted to change them, so now I have strings from three different sets on my violin and I will get a new set in a week time. She said that I have bought me the same violin the same time when her other student and this student haven’t broken any string yet…
    I also feel quite often like I reach a plateau, but when I compare me playing to my previous recordings I hear a big difference. The same with technical problems. I remember when shifting to third position were insanely hard and now it became more natural. On the other hand I still have many problems to solve connected with my shifting.
    Thanks for the link with the explanation of the Wolfahrts etudes purposes. I were looking for this website, but I thought it was deleted. I played several of them during my summer break and I were planning to put a recording to youtube, but I haven’t succeeded on recording them – strings problems.
    Good luck with your goals :D

    1. Hi Emma, so good to hear from you!! So, you’re working on vibrato too :-) To me it seems that I can play vibrato pretty relaxed when I just practice vibrato on long notes. But as soon as I have to use it in a piece or etude, it becomes much more difficult and I tense up. :-( Will need lots more vibrato practice for sure!!

      Sorry to hear about your strings problem… I hope your new set will sound great! ;-)

      I think I’m starting to get used to third position. I noticed because yesterday I tried to play a couple of measures in 4th position but my fingers wanted to go their spot in 3rd position. So I think my brain is adapting a little bit to 3rd position already! :yahoo: I’m sure you’ll get your shifting problems resolved with the help of your teacher. What problems are you referring too? Shifting is still very new to me so I’m wondering what your problems are. So I will know what to do when I get there LOL

  3. I’m working on developing slow wide vibrato – I perform a movement coming from my fingers and now I’m only able to vibrate short notes, which means that I do it wrong… Now I’m working on moving both wrist and arm. I hope I catch basic movement, but now it sounds terrible. I’m working now on some exercises without violin and with it and slowly trying to apply this movement to scales/pieces.
    I can’t wait for a new set also – now each string requires individual approach to playing it – a is very squeaky and d is very tense…
    That’s great that you starts to be used to playing in third position :yahoo: My biggest problem with shifts are bigger shifts (like from 1st to 5th position) with change of your finger… It’s rather mechanical work and repetitions to get it finally right. I need to play in 5th position more, because I have problem with my intonation when I cross the string. I’m trying to play simple tunes like Twinkles or Ode to Joy in 5th position and it slowly gets better. The worst moment is when I need to play 4th on one string and then on the next, but I will get it with more practice. I’m slowly getting to point when I will be shifting for almost a year and the problems that I had at the beginning was too tense hand. I had a stress that my hand is too tense and I won’t shift properly, which lead to tensing my arm even more :P This feeling was gone for me after about 1.5 month, but at the very beginning it was my worst problem. Also at that moment I had too hard piece, that my teacher gave me to play in duo on my first public performance. I finally made it, but still I think my teacher tends to give me too hard pieces. I asked her on my last lesson not to do that for next half a year, but I don’t think she will be able to wait that long without giving me next challenge…
    The technique used in elves dance is called spicatto. I have played this piece through several times, but I didn’t worked on that very hard. I have rather concentrated on other pieces, however I think elves dance or a piece in similar manner like Bohm’s Perpetum Mobile may be useful for me to make my wrist more loose. As it comes to similar pieces I also like Litwinov (not sure how to write his name – it’s written in different way in English than Russian) Perpetuum Mobile, but I think it’s too hard for me now. It sounds like this: and sound impressive.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your vibrato. It must bevery discouraging to have to learn it again but in a different way. I hope your vibrato will improve now that you know how to practice it! Hope I won’t run in this issue…

      Ah I see, I haven’t done much shifting yet. The exercises I’m doing are more to get to know 3rd position notes without a lot of shifting back and forth. Good luck with 5th position! Seems like many things with violin require us to repeat repeat repeat to learn it right!

      I listened to that link you posted. It certainly is very intense. And it is much harder than Elves Dance. Elves Dance is not that hard because every note is repeated twice. So the left hand doesn’t have to work that fast. But the piece in the recording needs a much faster left hand…

    2. I’m pretty sure that (at least for me) arm vibrato is harder than wrist vibrato since your muscles have to work harder. It took a long time for me to get a somewhat nice sounding vibrato since it took forever (many months) to get my arm to move. (Forget the fact that my first finger is still terrible but the others are somewhat nice?) And now I’m not even sure if I move the arm enough or if i have slowly began to add more wrist. I might only move my arm when I really pay attention… When I record something again I’m going to look at what my vibrato is like.XD
      I do know that most people use a combination of vibratos, often wrist + arm, but the impulse should still come from the arm to be an arm vibrato.
      My teacher directly started to teach me arm vibrato since she says it’s more controlled.
      I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to do it at some point. I wish you good luck and don’t be too frustrated.

      One piece I got from my teacher on tuesday is a great vibrato (and bow distribution) exercise. I didn’t pay attention to HOW I was doing the vibrato but when I practice this piece tomorrow I probably will and see how I’m doing. I do struggle with other things in that piece so not sure how much attention I can pay to the vibrato. Since you are supposed to use a very slow bow to play multiple notes and then quickly get the bow back to the frog with 3 detaché quarter notes I’m trying to use only half the bow instead of full bow (which would feel more natural for me to get nice vibrating notes). When I AM slow enough my bow starts to bounce from the slight wriggling motion of the violin when I’m trying to vibrate. So I’m working really hard on getting better at controlling the bow at this slow speed.

      1. I haven’t tried arm vibrato yet. Or I did try but just for a moment. I started with wrist vibrato and I think for now it’s best to stick with just one. It’s hard enough already. ;-) I notice my violin wiggles a little bit too when I do vibrato. I try to prevent it, also it doesn’t happen with every finger. But it should be possible to play vibrato without wiggling the violin. That’s the idea but for that one has to be very relaxed. I’m not there yet…

        1. I’m pretty sure that the violin will always wiggle when vibrating, but that’s just what I think. Of course it shouldn’t wiggle so much that you can’t play anymore.XD I just think it’s never perfectly still no matter how good you are. But I might be totally wrong with that. Is there a video about this topic?

          1. I’ve heard that violin shouldn’t wiggle, while vibrating. Actually I don’t feel the wiggling of the violin when I work on the correct movement. One thing that is strange sound that is similar to an ambulance is more distracting for me – I will have to get used to that vibration sound.
            Mariko, this method with metronome sounds really good. I will have to try it to make this movement more consistent.

            1. Hi Emma and Mariko

              After watching a view random videos and looking at people’s vibratos I think you are right.XD It seemed so unbelievable to me at first but it’s true. In some cases I do see a bit of movement though but in others it looks perfectly still while vibrating.
              I searched a bit more and found this forum post:

              “Part of the problem may be over-gripping the neck. I had to study what I was doing because all my teacher could say was ‘don’t shake the violin when you do vibrato’.

              Several kind and accomplished violinists here recently passed a warning about not supporting the violin by its neck. It makes it difficult to change position and do vibrato so I looked at what I was doing (and finally persuaded myself to get a shoulder rest) and I’m starting to sort it out.

              For vibrato I do use my left thumb as a pivot so I can waggle my wrist. The thumb is a little behind the vibrato finger (closer to the peg box) so there’s a tendency for the finger to ‘bear down’ as it moves forward during the vibrato. (Like you are exerting more pressure at the forward limit of the vibato movement than the backward one.)

              This tends to drive the violin down (only a tiny bit but enough to make it shake in time with the vibrato and mess up the bowing. At worst, the bow starts to bounce.) Part of the cure seems to be: hold the violin firmly under the jaw, observe how the violin then rests. Use as little pressure as possible with the left thumb, make your finger movements exert their force toward your chin rather than downward. It’s as much an exercise of imagination as physical playing once you know what you’re aiming for. ”

              So maybe I’m gripping to hard. I’m definitely going to try practice vibrato with the metronome today and check what I’m doing.

              1. Thanks for sharing the post about vibrato and shaking the violin. I have to focus on relaxing more and gripping less. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. Will keep practicing slowly and give it time to get better. Keep it up!

          2. ChibiEdo, I don’t know of any video about this topic. But I read it in Simon Fischer’s book. That the violin shouldn’t move at all when we do vibrato…

            Emma, yes this metronome method is really great! I think ChibiEdo gave me the idea some time ago to practice vibrato like that.

  4. I am not discouraged – I knew that there is much work to make my vibrato sound. I need to agree that slow vibrato played by me sound strange right now and it’s hard to add this movement to a piece or scale, so now I am doing some exercises with and without violin. Vibrato is not an easy technique – it’s more natural for some people, but most of us need to fight for it really hard.
    This Perpetuum mobile has also repeated notes, but it requires good shifting. As it comes to bow distribution Kreutzer 4 is really good to work on it. It can be played almost entirely in 1st position, but is usually played in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. You have to play one fast note from the bottom to the top of the bow and rest notes in the downbow.

    1. Good luck with your vibrato! I’m now practicing vibrato with the metronome at 70 bpm. First I do 2 movements per beat, then 4. More than that I cannot do yet. I feel that if I keep doing this, my vibrato will be more consistent and relaxed. Hope it will show results soon. Have a great day! :-)

  5. I surely don’t look down upon people who are self thought because I started as self thought violinist and found I was picking up lots of wrong things! I think at one point if we love violin and we need to be really good at it then a teacher is what we need to hunt for! Its better to work hard hunting a teacher then work really hard doing it yourself!

    I am from India and I am 30 ! Here in India I can answer exams of London college of music! They are held once in a year in my city!
    There are 8 grades!
    I did grade 2 in 2 months wit a teacher (thanks to him he really worked magic ) normally here in my city children do each grade a year! Now in one year I am doing grade 5 from beginner! Shortly Ill be putting my videos on my channel!

    Also I have 14 students whom I teach violin you can check my channel their videos are uploaded!

    Thank you! Keep up the good work! 

    1. Hi Vernul, nice to meet you! Your progress seems to be very quick! I saw your channel, you have some wonderful students. :-) Very much looking forward to see a video of you playing too! Have you been playing for only one year? What pieces and techniques does one learn in grade 5 level?

      1. Hi
        Yes I have been playing only for a year. Grade 5 requires to play C scale arpeggios with slurs in second position two octaves. also E,Eb,Ab scales from 1st to 3rd position two octaves. G scale in first third and 5th position three octaves. also G chromatic scale. and lot more. then there are three pieces i have to play. one is from suzuki book 2 borichini. ofcourse i am not using vibrato yet.

        I will be uploading my Grade 5 videos soon as i finish answering the exam in November.

        nice to be on this forum.

        I am Working on Hans sitt etudes book 1 and 2 before i answer my Grade 5 exam.

        1. Waaaw that’s certainly a lot to learn in only one year! Happy for you! I hope your exam in November will go well. :-) I’m looking forward to see a video of you soon. :-)

          1. I think your better then me!

            I really liken the elves dance piece that you played

            Your also more into violin!

            Ill upload my video soon only thing is I want to be really good in it only then I will

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