This is a very good and a very common question: As a violin learner, when are you ready to start vibrato?
Normally, teachers wait to teach vibrato when their students are in Suzuki Book 3 or its equivalent. But is that just a random choice? Is it tradition that makes you wait until book 3 to learn violin vibrato?
Some teachers are very systematic in their decision to introduce vibrato while others are more spontaneous. But most teachers make a decision regarding when to teach vibrato based on similar criteria whether they realize it or not.
What are these criteria? Most teachers want to see:
- Proficiency with the left hand in first position
- Good posture and form
- The ability to play consistently in tune
These fundamentals are necessary before the teacher starts moving the hand all over the place. This is why shifting is often taught around the same time as vibrato.
I would not even think about teaching a student to shift into 3rd position if they are struggling to play low 2’s or 1’s in tune in first position! Similarly, if a student cannot play in tune without vibrato, imagine how much worse it would be if they started vibrating their hand back and forth!
I also personally like to see a certain level of ear training, bow mastery, and ability to produce a good tone before I start vibrato, because vibrato requires lots of focus and coordination. If a student is still struggling to keep their bow on the sounding point, or struggling to produce a good tone, then vibrato is out of the question!
Although many teachers wait until the beginning or end of Book 3 to begin vibrato, I introduce it at the end of my Suzuki Book 1 course for a couple reasons:
- First, my Suzuki Book 1 class spends ENORMOUS amounts of time setting students up with good posture, good relaxed left hand form, intonation, tone production, and bow hold. So by the time students reach the end of Book 1, the skills are in place, and it is possible for students to then add the additional skill of vibrato to their brain load.
- Second, I specialize in adult students, and I know there is nothing that adults want MORE than the mature, expressive, colorful sound that only vibrato can achieve.
I’m glad you are asking the question: Am I ready for vibrato? If you are playing well in tune, you have good proficiency in 1st position, you have good tone and bow control, then you are ready to start learning vibrato! If you think you need a brush up on these basic skills, consider my Fabulous Fundamentals online violin lessons which will give you a fantastic foundation for both violin and fiddle….and of course, vibrato!