William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

How to Develop a Continuous Vibrato

Learn how to have a continuos vibrato while playing your violin

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick explains the concept of "Continuous Vibrato," and gives you an easy and practical way to apply it to your violin playing.

Released on September 2, 2015

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

So have a look at this. So just why did I play that excerpt from from Thais that slowly? Well, this video about continuous vibrato just might shed some light on why I did what I did.

Welcome to VirtualSheetMusic.com's Meet the Expert. My name is William Fitzpatrick and I am the Henry Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall Musco Conservatory of Music which is located on the campus of Chapman University in Orange, California. I am as well Director of Music Share and the Music Share Young Artist program which is located in Irvine, California.

Well, to start off I must admit to having been confused by the phrase continuous vibrato when it was first introduced to me. It conjured up memories of hearing this church singer, soprano, when I was very young that had a vibrato so wide that you could almost... Well, let's just say that it was very, very wide. Every note that she sang had this vibrato. I must admit that it was not the most aurally satisfying event that I had ever encountered. So after that whenever someone spoke to me about doing a continuous vibrato, I just could not help but think about that singer.

So I tried very hard to understand continuous vibrato, but the idea that a vibrato never stopped just didn't resonate with me. Then one day it occurred to me that if I changed the word vibrato to the word gesture, new doors opened. New possibilities opened. And suddenly a light bulb went off in my head. I could finally see it happening. Well, what exactly did I see? Well, you will need to use your imagination a bit. But let's have a look.

All right, so let's say that there's this. This is a vibrato. See that's that imagination that you've got to use. All right. I'm going to take that vibrato from here, and I'm going to go to the next note which is here. So let's see. I'm vibrating and now I'm gonna go to the next note. Ah, you see, it didn't stop. Here, let me do it again. We're going this way and when I go back then I go over and there it is. Voila! A continuous vibrato. What would the alternative be? Here, let's do it again. Here and we're gonna stop, go over and then we're going to start again.

See, that's not as continuous as this to that. I had now found a way to understand continuous vibrato. I hope that you now understand why I was vibrating so slowly at the beginning of this video. Here let me you see it again. I hope that you now understand why I was vibrating so slowly at the beginning of this video. Here, let me let you see it again. You see from the F-sharp, the gesture goes all the way down to the open string and then comes back up to the B. Here. let's listen to it.

Oh and by the way, I'm not one to give out rules but here's a principle for you to think about. I teach to only vibrate a note when you have time to do so. For example, in your scales when you are doing one or two notes to a bow, it's very possible to vibrate and so we do. But from three or four on, it gets harder. So you don't. Why? Because there just isn't enough time. As you can see, I fall into that camp that uses vibrato in a scale.

Why? Well for one, when you play a piece you vibrate. So why wouldn't you do so in the scale? The scale, it's representing the piece. It's mirroring the piece. So, of course, you would do it in the scale. Well, at least, that's my point of view. But let's save that discussion for another time.

So we can go from one to two, two to three, three to four. But what about two to one, three to two, or four to three? Isn't that how the Tites started? Three to one to zero? So we've now talked about it both ways, but there are also notes that are connected through shifts. For example, F-sharp to C-sharp. Do you see what I mean? Even the other way. Okay, let's recap. There's a two to three or a four to three. There's even a four to two or four to one. I mean, we could even do four, three, two, one.

But I believe that things on our arms are not separate but connected. So try this with your right hand with the vibrato. Let's do four to one. When playing four, use a slow bow speed. slow vibrato and then take your finger however fast you do it. That's going to be your vibrato for the first finger and the bow speed will go faster. As if the vibrato is linked to our speed of the bow. The two things are connected. Here, let me do that again. Do you see what I mean?

So that's it for this video of the use or development of a continuous vibrato. If you have a comment or a question to ask me, please feel free to post it below. Here's hoping that you're becoming more aware of what your body is doing and that this knowledge is helping you practicing to become more and more efficient and effective leading you to better and better performances. Practice well.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Sherry Roseman on November 23, 2018 @8:26 am PST
Professor FitzPatrick, I thank you for your videos. I truly like your teaching aspects. You are such a kind soul. You are such an exceptional person, and somehow I identify with your ways.
Jan Booth * VSM MEMBER * on October 21, 2015 @11:36 am PST
Please address the arm vibrato, how to, when, and compare it to the common wrist vibrato. Thank you.
William - host, on February 17, 2017 @9:19 am PST
Hi! Will do in my next video! Thanks for the suggestion!
Kathleen M. Barry * VSM MEMBER * on September 30, 2015 @7:08 am PST
That really works! A slide is usually necessary when going from a high to a lower note. I notice that your left hand is holding the neck of the violin in the 'web' of the hand. I keep my left hand next to the neck at the joint where the first finger and palm meet. There's a little indentation for the neck to rest there. This holding position makes it harder to free up my vibrato. And I guess teaching kids to keep their palm off the neck of the violin is not good?
William - host, on September 30, 2015 @5:09 pm PST
I once asked Ms Delay why she didn't write a book like Mr Galamian and she said that she didn't want to because once something is in writing people go AHA, thats what she thinks! So I as well don't want to fall into a trap so with regard to the palm it depends on the students hand size and shape ... I would feel easier saying that it should be extremely loose ... I do so hope this helps!!!
Rodney Arcega on February 17, 2017 @6:26 am PST
Itzhak Perlman is doing the same method of palm resting yet he is doing good vibrato. It depends on the player which comforts him/her at play. I can say that in my years of experience palm resting is an essential control for shifting and vibrato over the violin especially when I tend to play without a shoulder rest. Shoulder rest serves as a hand that holds the violin when shifting because it counters the pressure of your chin temporarily until you hold your violin again.
William - host, on February 17, 2017 @9:21 am PST
To use or not use a shoulder rest ... great idea for a discussion in a video! Thanks!
nguyen van tuan on September 23, 2015 @6:23 am PST
I'm very impressed by the method of vibrato. However, I'm only the restarter who is 50 years old, gave up pratising 30 years ago. I'm going over postion 1. I would be gratefull if any mothod on this position could be recommened to improve my vibrato skill shortly. Tks
William - host, on September 30, 2015 @5:05 pm PST
Hi and thanks! What the video suggests works there as well!
Barbie * VSM MEMBER * on September 2, 2015 @6:05 pm PST
This video was extremely helpful! Can you post something about how to practice vibrato into a piece of music. It does not come natural for me, and it is a little difficult to get into my repertoire. Is their an actual beginner process of putting it into repertoire? Thanks, Barbie
William - host, on September 17, 2015 @2:25 pm PST
Hi and thanks! Actually you want to create a habit or reflex first by using scales. In order to really perform a piece you don't want to be thinking too much; thinking gets in the way! So create the reflex first and it will come to the piece in a more natural way! Hope this helps!
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