William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Should you vibrate before playing the note?

A definitive answer to a very common question

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick talks about vibrato and the myth of "vibrating before playing the note." It looks like the secret is in "synchronizing" your left hand with your right hand, so that vibrato naturally follows.

Released on October 5, 2016

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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, should you vibrate before playing the note, you know? Should you vibrate and then start the note? Well, many people say we should. Why don't we talk about this, why don't we explore this thought a little bit deeper. Well, first off, I believe that your vibrato should follow, react to what happens in your right hand. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, the speed of the bow and the vibrato speed, I believe should be joined together. If my bow speed is fast then my vibrato speed should be fast as well, or if the bow speed is slow then the vibrato speed should react accordingly. Here, let me show you what I mean. Let's look at the second theme from Mendelssohn's Concerto with E minor. How about that second theme? You see, my vibrato followed my bow. If I go on faster, it will go on faster. But it didn't. Okay, let's try something fast. What about the opening to Mozart's G major Concerto No. 3? The bow speed? Was fast, the pressure was a little more, [inaudible 00:01:50] closer to the bridge, faster bow speed. What about Wieniawski's Concerto in D minor, the opening statement? My bow speed, it matched. But what about something with accents, like Dvorak's Sonatina? The accent suggested a burst in my left hand as well, which I do. So as I was suggesting, if we talk about the pressure of the bow, I mean, if the bow speed has an impact on the pressure, then shouldn't the pressure used in a stroke have an impact on our finger pressure as well? The finger pressure on the string. Well, I for one, think so.

I remember Ms. DeLay showing me a piece of paper that was entitled 'energy'. When I first glanced at the sheet of paper, I thought, "Seriously, this has to be the dumbest thing that I've ever seen." Then I looked again, and again, and started to realize that, what at first glance seemed so silly was in fact quite profound. I realized that these simple truths were not really followed by most people, myself included. So here, let's have a look at the energy sheet. First thing we notice, is that it's divided into columns of less and more. Under A, or sound, we find bow speed, sounding point and pressure in the right hand. And in the left, articulation, vibrato, then shifting. Then B is rhythm and pacing. And C is intonation. Now, if we look at less we see slower, and more we see faster. So when the vibrato was slower, so was the articulation and shifting. Or, to the other column, if the vibrato is faster then the shifting is faster. So you see what I mean? It's very deceptive in that it's so, so very simple. So, okay, let's not stray too far away and get back to the question which I asked at the beginning of this video, should you vibrate before playing the note or shouldn't you? Okay now, how might I answer that? Well, I think that the vibrato must react to what the bow does, and because of that should start when the bow touches the string. You know? At the beginning of the note. When I'm starting a note with my bow, my vibrato follows. In fact, the vibrato shouldn't be before. And with that, my name is William Fitzpatrick and I'm the artistic director of the MusiShare Young Artist Program and the Henri Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music which is located on the campus of Chapman University. As always, I do hope this video helps your practicing to become more efficient and effective, which then helps you to learn to practice hard but wisely, leading you towards even better performances.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Lois Owlsey * VSM MEMBER * on October 12, 2016 @8:40 pm PST
Wow! This video is great! I've never heard or taught this concept before. Thanks a bunch :
William - host, on June 7, 2017 @11:29 am PST
Hi & thanks am so happy you liked it!
Bill * VSM MEMBER * on October 5, 2016 @8:39 am PST
I have been playing both violin and basketball for about 70 years – and both strictly as an amateur. In sports, players are often told something like, “Don’t think - just let it happen.”
I never think about how I get the ball launched toward the basket and it never occurred to me to think about when to start my vibrato relative to when I start the bow. I believe my activities are related and have always thought that there’s an athletic relationship to playing the violin, coordination, endurance, etc. so I’m not going to start to think about either of those acts at this late date.
The ball still frequently goes into the basket and I think my playing still sounds OK. Both remain of amateur quality though, so I’m not going pro.
Charles D Carter on October 5, 2016 @7:26 am PST
Please provide me with information on how to obtain a copy of the energy sheet.m
William - host, on November 11, 2016 @10:49 am PST
Simply email me and I will attach it in a return email! Thanks!
Charles Carter on November 11, 2016 @1:01 pm PST
William. Thanks. Email address is attached.
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