Like Shaking a Can of Coke

October 27, 2010

At my lesson yesterday we reviewed the pieces I am currently working on, which include the Gavotte and Bourreé at the end of Suzuki book 2, the Berceuse at the start of book 3, and Lee etudes 3, 4, 5, and 6. After I played the Berceuse solo, David and I played it together. He was very pleased with it and suggested that it was time for me to start learning vibrato.

He described the motion as shaking a can of coke and said that it starts at the elbow. After a few imaginary can shakes he then had me tap the blade of my hand against the top of my cello's body lightly. Next we polished the string with the pad of a a finger, making a long sliding motion up and down the fingerboard. Finally we shortened the motion so that the finger was gently rocking back and forth in place on the string.

David explained that it is important to approach learning vibrato slowly as bad habits learned early will be very difficult to overcome and unlearn.

He had me practice with a G on the D-string as that note has a nice ring to it. He wants me to put my finger on the B-string, i.e., in between the G- and D-strings and then roll over onto the D-string to properly use the pad of my fingertip and not my finger tip for the vibrato. With a few minutes work I was able to start making a reasonable sounding vibrato. The motion feels awkward and after all the time and effort focused on correct intonation and using my finger tips it seems odd to now wobble around the note using a different part of my finger tip.

I asked if the vibration goes above and below the note itself and he said yes. He explained that some books and people suggest that vibrato should start below the note and only come up to the note, but he demonstrated that this sounds a bit flat.

For next week I am to work in the Berceuse with vibrato. Here are the rest of the pieces to work on the next week:

I won't be lacking of things to do this week.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.