So I've managed the movement of the arm vibrato since some while ago (the rolling finger motion) but despite that, I've noticed that one thing keeps preventing me from doing it entirely right: the finger slipping of the right note.
So I've read somewhere on the Fiddlerman forum that the vibrato movement should be relaxing, not hard and stiff, or should I say not like a rusty bike. One problem appears for me though, it's hard for me to relax my hand since my finger is slipping off the correct note so I'm forced to push with my finger a little at which point it makes it hard to relax. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance
Good question, Alexander. Hopefully, Pierre will weigh in on this soon to shed a little light on balancing increased pressure with relaxation for proper vibrato.
On every website, in every forum, the proper execution of vibrato pops up time and again as the most confusing and frustrating aspect of learning to play any bowed instrument. So you, I - and quite frankly everyone else on this side of figuring it out - are in the same boat.
I am probably wrong with what I am about to say but I'll say it any way on the off chance that I am at least partially correct.
I believe that one of the major factors in vibrato is having the instrument very well balanced on your collar bone so that you don't have to "hold" the Viola. Granted you still need to be able to "grip" it well enough to produce the appropriate pressure on the string which is where I have a problem...not because I press or grip too hard but because my hand Sticks to the neck.
If I might make a suggestion, try placing a small soft cloth between your palm and the neck to facilitate "Sliding". Which should 1. allow for easier movement from 1 position to another and 2. prevent your palm from sticking to the neck while performing an Arm Vibrato.
Just my 2 cents worth. I would like to hear what Pierre has to say as well though since I am probably WAY off course
Hey Vince By way of complete disclosure I cannot do vibrato and havent really tried. Now about your sticky hand problem ... up here in the Great White North they are advertising special Texting gloves ie no fingers, they should allow sliding and still permit proper application to the string. You would probably need only the left glove but I doubt they will break up a set but you could probably sell the right to a lefty.
Vince, you have a very good point about balancing the instrument. Helps a heap.
I never needed to facilitate gliding but my hands aren't really sticky. The important thing is that it helps you. All these ideas and tips are great. There are no wrong suggestions unless they worsen your playing or health.
Hm, I realized that I did hold the viola improperly. And I can't seem to find a "comfort spot" even though I've been trying to find one the past 3 days. Trying out without shoulder-rest and with and the instrument is just falling down all the time. When it's not falling down, I'm forced to really squeeze the instrument towards me with my chin and it's very uncomfortable. Do you think the Viola might be too big, Pierre?
I'm a very thin/small person in case it needs to be mentioned.
Well Part of it will be based on the length of your arm from your Neck to your wrist When holding your arm straight out to the side. However, Using a shoulder rest may also help to combat the "Falling instrument" problem.
To check for sizing look here:
It is the best explanation of how to size that I have seen so far. Actually it is the only explanation I have seen that takes the length of the arm and converts it into a viola size. One of the wonderful things about the Viola is that, for the most part, we've got a size for YOU.
When I tried my first viola I did find that I was more comfortable using a shoulder rest than without one but I had to play with it a bit to get it set to the perfect angle/height for me...
Being a Giant is never easy
Most violists have their instruments much lower than violinists. The instrument is heavier so they rest their elbows somewhat.
As Vince mentioned above there are guidelines for the size of the viola vs your arm length but for the most part, a viola can be bigger if you can handle it.
A giant violinist still only plays a 4/4 size violin but very small people can sometimes have a hard time fingering the instrument.
As far as holding is concerned, don't feel the need to have it up too high. Slightly down is fine.
I have already seen that video several times and following the steps one after one. Unfortunately it's not helping, the viola is still falling off. I'm going to go to a violin and a viola store and try different sizes instead to see if it's because of the size of it.
Thanks for all the effort though.
Does it happen to just pivot and turn straight for the center of your body which also causes it to fall?
Cuz that is what mine does and my shoulder rest does prevent that from happening.
I will say though that unless you have a person who is "gifted" with fitting Shoulder rests it may take playing around with it in different positions for a little while before you find your "sweet spot" Don't that discourage you though cuz once it happens.....whole new world.
Pierre says that it's really important to be as relaxed as possible and have little or no tension when you play, so the fact that you're having to bear down with your chin to keep your instrument in place is a clear indicator that there's a fitting issue. Hopefully, your local professional will be able to either adjust your shoulder rest to work properly for you are find one that will free you up to play without tension.
I am just learning all of this but here goes my 2cents worth. I have a KUN original shoulder rest, got it for Christmas, and I use it on my acoustic violin and will probably try it on my new soon to be delivered CVA-500. 14" viola. Most important to explain I had no luck at first until I found a Youtube video explaining how to assemble, fit and adjust this shoulder rest. It works differently than my BonMusica rest which cost $65, and has more of a shoulder hook and adjusts differently and I use it with my electric because the electric is heavier, particularily nearest my neck and shoulder..
BUT by far the best resource dealing with shoulder and chin rests and how to fit them to variously shaped people is
The site explains the work of a scientific, academic study into how to fit stringed instrument to their players in ways that promote relaxed, stress free playing postures that allow maximum utilization of the instruments capabilities while preserving players comfort and health. The site may not solve your problem but will probably show you what you need to do. Good Luck
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