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What is Vibrato and when should it be used?

Classical violinists use to vibrato to great extent to color the tones that they are playing. Vibrato is a fast movement of your fingers giving a fast but small variation in the pitch (frequency). Most violinists that use vibrato are unaware that they are using it.

There are different opinions on whether to use vibrato, and when to use it. In general vibrato should be used when playing long notes, but you should train to play both with and without vibrato. If you are playing folk music especially you should be careful not overdoing your vibrato (once you learnt it). In this way you can vary your style and make it more interesting.

It is a little bit easier to be in pitch when making a vibrato, since you can use the vibrato to slide your finger into position. Some violinists use vibrato to override a poor intonation. It is generally agreed that vibrato should not be used for that. The center tone of making vibrato should be in tune, right from the start of the tone.

Can vibrato be trained?

You can train your vibrato using a pencil (see the video picture). Put your left fingertip on the pencil while holding the pencil in your right hand. Move your wrist fourth and back at a constant pace in direction parallel to the pencil. This will train your muscles to make a vibrato. Most violinists are unaware of the vibrato they are making. It is just there, it was not trained, it just appeared one day. Making ornaments and trills on the notes, may be the start for making vibrato for some people.

First time you should wait until the whole animation is downloaded

Once you have learnt the vibrato, you should start to train different vibrato styles. The vibrato could be only at the start of the note, in the middle of the note, in the end of the note or throughout the note. You should also train consciously to play without vibrato.