Complete Vibrato Mastery

A system for taking violin, viola, and fiddle students from no vibrato, or a problematic one, to beautiful expression.
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  • Lectures 48
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 12/2015 English

Course Description

Through 11 hands-on video lessons learn a systematic vibrato method that will take any violin, viola, or fiddle student with no vibrato experience to an expressive, consistent vibrato in 3-6 months.

More experienced players will gain skills for improving their vibrato technique while learning to create more seamlessness and variety, in preparation for various applications across the Classical music time periods, as well as other music genres.

You'll learn how to troubleshoot and fix issues common with students trying to learn vibrato, such as a vibrato that makes you sound out of tune, issues with the 1st or 4th fingers, a vibrato that is too fast or too slow, as well as issues with form, cohesiveness, initiation, and continuous vibrato.

We'll explore ideas for musical interpretation, cover historical and modern applications of vibrato, the prerequisites needed for successfully learning vibrato, vibrato warm-ups, and even a flashy modern vibrato cousin great for adding to your Rock or Blues improvisations.

Along the way, enjoy samples of various vibrato styles performed by Laurel Thomsen through Classical favorites, fiddle tunes, and some of Laurel's original compositions. Additionally, links to a variety of articles help us dive deeper into the history and applications of vibrato.

To keep you on track, lessons end with a recap of what you should practice, consider, and remember. Similarly, a series of play-along practice tracks, several PDF practice outlines, and a detailed six month weekly practice program PDF ensure you are organizing the various exercises effectively, all the while seeing and hearing your progressive achievements.

Happy Practicing!

What are the requirements?

  • violin or viola and bow
  • generally good intonation (ability to play in tune)
  • a generally good sense of timing/rhythm
  • metronome (optional, but helpful)

What am I going to get from this course?

  • develop a consistent and beautiful vibrato, from the beginning stages of the technique through advanced applications
  • fix vibrato issues that may have previously held you back, such as a vibrato that is too fast or too slow, inconsistent, non-existent, as well as issues with particular fingers
  • demystify vibrato and take it from a technique you either "get" or you don't, to an achievable, expressive tool you can master
  • understand and apply the most appropriate vibrato for each musical situation, phrase, and genre
  • understand the historical and modern applications of vibrato for masterful interpretations
  • learn to apply the right kind of vibrato to fiddle waltzes and airs, plus, add a dose of cool with a Rock and Blues vibrato technique

What is the target audience?

  • violin and viola students who have had at least some experience on the instrument and can generally play in tune
  • string teachers who want to learn a systematic approach for developing vibrato to pass along to their students
  • cello or bass students who want a method for learning vibrato that can be easily applied their instruments
  • all string players who want to add beauty, color, intensity, and passion to the music they play

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Lessons 1a-d: What is Vibrato?
04:20

Welcome to Complete Vibrato Mastery! You'll learn a bit about your instructor, what you can expect to learn from the course, and a brief history of vibrato.

Be sure to check out the additional links in the resources section discussing vibrato throughout history.

Music sample: Méditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet, performed by Laurel Thomsen.

03:00

At the end of this lesson you'll be able to answer the question "what is vibrato?" and you'll understand and be able to avoid common confusions surrounding the technique. You'll also understand what vibrato can add to the music you play and what it shouldn't be used for.

Be sure to check out the Vibrato Wikipedia link in the resources section for more information.

03:10

Find out if you have the prerequisites needed to learn vibrato successfully or a couple aspects of your playing you should brush up on first. At the end we'll recap everything we've learned in Lessons 1a-c.

Finally, in the resources section of this lesson enjoy an MP3 of an episode from Laurel's Violin Geek Podcast where she discusses her own vibrato story in addition to some of the topics included here. The Violin Geek Podcast is available free via iTunes. With over 80 episodes and counting, consider subscribing to receive episodes every few weeks featuring artist interviews and tips and ideas for better technique and practicing. Visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/violin-geek-podcast/id374305295?mt=2

Music sample: Light & Shadow by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Barry Phillips, and Mike Witcher.

3 questions

Let's not perpetuate the confusion...What is vibrato and what can it do or not do for your music?

Section 2: Lessons 2a-b: The Anatomy of Vibrato
03:55

Learn the three distinct types of vibrato based on which part of the anatomy drives the movement as well as the characteristics and benefits of each type.

Be sure to check out the list of artists organized by type of vibrato in the resources section. All have videos on YouTube that will help you see the various vibrato styles in action.

04:09

In this lesson we'll explore some special vibrato applications, namely vibrato in high positions and double stop vibrato. At the end we'll recap what we've learned in Lessons 2a-b.

Music sample: Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

Section 3: Lesson 3: Vibrato Warmups
06:00

Experience the "shaker" and "polishing the strings" vibrato warm-ups and gather a bit more information about what vibrato style may be right for you. At the end we'll recap everything you've learned in this lesson.

Be sure to download the "6 Months to Vibrato Mastery Worksheet" in the resources section. It will help you stay on track week to week as you move through the course.

Music sample: Asilomar (2nd movement) by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Joe Craven, Scott Nygaard, John Reischman, and Dan Robbins

Section 4: Lessons 4a-g: Basic Progressive Vibrato Practice
03:36

Learn the basics of set up for this exercise.

Be sure to download the PDFs in the resources section. They will help you stay on track as you move through the course.

Music sample: Andante from the String Quartet in A Minor by Franz Schubert, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

07:30

Learn the first stages of the progressive vibrato workout and tips for avoiding common issues.

Music sample: Rough 9 6 (2nd movement) by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Dale Mills, Scott Nygaard, Dan Robbins, and Mike Witcher.

05:02

We lay out the entire practice and hear vibrato move from sounding like a siren (or dying cat), to a measured, but near vibrato sound.

Music sample: Mandolino Waltz by Dan Frechette, string arrangement by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen.

05:23

Learn how listening for both the "peaks" and the "valleys" will help you tune your vibrato, as well as how to move between vibrato speeds when you've mastered one speed but aren't quite ready for the next one.

Music sample: The Mists of Down Below by Dan Frechette, string arrangement by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen.

05:03

Learn how we can apply a metronome beat to ensure we are getting even vibrato speeds and progressing accurately to faster speeds.

Music sample: Music Bug by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Marty Atkinson, Joe Craven, Scott Nygaard, and Dan Robbins.

01:43

Whether you're discovering that you're just not a wrist vibrato person, you've learned wrist vibrato and want to see how to apply the exercises to learning arm vibrato, or already have developed an arm vibrato, in this lesson you'll learn the important modifications needed to apply the workout.

Music sample: Music Bug by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Marty Atkinson, Joe Craven, Scott Nygaard, and Dan Robbins.

05:34

Tips for how to deal with inconsistencies in ability from finger to finger, particularly the 1st and 4th finger.

Music sample: Scheherazade Theme by Rimsky-Korsakov, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

02:12

Learn how to work with the vibrato patterns to even out finger inconsistencies.

Music sample: Sweet Beauty by Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen, performed by Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen.

Section 5: Lesson 5: Making it Natural
04:13

Learn how to stop a shaking violin and use gravity to your advantage, and what tension points may be hindering your vibrato motion or the ability to make a good vibrato tone.

Music sample: Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

Section 6: Lesson 6: Moving to First Position
05:46

Learn how and when to take your 2-24 vibrato practice to first position while avoiding common pitfalls.

Music sample: The Beauty Doesn't Know by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Dan Frechette, Tracy Parker, and Jimmy Norris.

Section 7: Lessons 7a-c: Refining Your Vibrato
04:06

In this lesson we'll practice changing the width of your vibrato, preparing you for a wide variety of interpretive applications.

Be sure to download the PDF in the resources section to help you stay on track as you move through the course.

Music sample: Bouree from Water Music Suite by G. F. Handel, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

03:53

Sometimes we want to "grow" our vibrato from a "dry" start into a rich and expressive dynamic. In this lesson you'll practice vibrato variations that will allow you to shape your vibrato to the phrasing and arc of your music.

Music sample: Horse and Bug Rag by Dan Frechette, performed by Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen.

02:48

In this lesson we'll learn an exercise to smooth out your vibrato and refine your ability to stay consistent in a variety of musical applications. Particularly if your vibrato sounds out of tune in moments, or sounds jerky and robotic in terms of width and speed, this is definitely one you'll want to try!

Music sample: The Sheep May Safely Graze by J.S. Bach, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

Section 8: Lessons 8a-c: Adding Vibrato to Your Music
04:52

In this lesson we'll explore initial steps for adding vibrato to your music. With examples and tips, gain the courage to take the plunge.

Be sure to download the PDF in the resources section to help you stay on track as you move through the course.

Music sample: Saturday Night Will Be Rocking by Dan Frechette, performed by Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen.

05:11

Once you've added vibrato to the longer notes of your pieces, learn how to add vibrato to faster note values.

Music Sample: Tales from the Labyrinth by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Dan Frechette.

05:09

Overcome the common tendency stop your vibrato between notes. A challenging exercise at first, but well worth the effort when you experience the results of smooth, effortless vibrato throughout your music.

Music sample: Rough 9 6 by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Scott Nygaard, Dan Robbins, and Mike Witcher.

Section 9: Lessons 9a-b: Advanced Applications
04:03

Learn the vibrato skills needed to meet the needs of music beyond about the fifth position.

Be sure to download the PDF in the resources section to help you stay on track as you move through the course.

Music sample: Rough 9 6 by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen, Scott Nygaard, Dan Robbins, and Mike Witcher.

03:56

Learn the vibrato skills needed for double, triple, and quadruple stops.

Music sample: Who Will Take My Place? by Dan Frechette, performed by Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen.

Section 10: Lessons 10a-d: Interpreting with Vibrato
03:46

In this lesson we explore the types of vibrato appropriate for various tempos as well as Baroque and early music.

Be sure to download the PDF in the resources section to help you stay on track as you move through the course.

Music sample: Ghost Lover's Waltz by Laurel Thomsen, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Dan Frechette.

02:24

In this lesson we explore how to shape vibrato to the phrasing and dynamics of your pieces.

Music sample: Bouree from Water Music Suite by G. F. Handel, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

02:22

Learn how to add types of vibrato to certain fiddle styles and tunes.

Music sample: Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar, performed by Laurel Thomsen.

03:26

Learn a vibrato variation suitable for choice moments in Blues or Rock music, or as a sound effect during an improvisation.

Music sample: Blues for Cindy by D. Reiner, performed by Laurel Thomsen.

Section 11: Lessons 11a-c: Planning for Mastery
03:13

We recap the elements of the basic practice and give guidelines for building up a successful vibrato.

If you haven't yet downloaded the "6 Months to Vibrato Mastery Worksheet" please find it in the resources section. It will help you stay on track week to week as you move through the course.

Music sample: Gigue from Sonata in D Minor by FM Veracini, performed by Laurel Thomsen and Nancy Skei.

04:10

We discuss how to start incorporating the more advanced practices, such as higher position and double stop vibrato.

Music sample: Puddles in the Rain by Dan Frechette, performed by Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen.

00:45

Thank you for joining me and please feel free to let me know how it's going!

I'd like to thank and credit my teachers Rebecca Smith, Susan C Brown, and Margaret Baldridge for their additions to this course. Through helping me along the way I've been able to help others and I am eternally grateful for your time, insight, and acute awareness.

I'd also like to thank my students, past and present, for helping me develop and refine this curriculum over the past 20 years. I would not have much to share had it not been for all those "problems" you all presented me to figure out how to fix.

Finally, though they are no longer with us, I'd like to thank and credit teachers Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay for passing down elements of this instruction to others who in turn passed them on to me. Your pedagogy is a continual inspiration and lives on through generations of fine string players.

Section 12: Play-along Tracks
14:07

Understand the layout of the play-along tracks, tips for practice along with them, and ideas for further study.

01:24

Play along audio track for a first finger D in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 2-6s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

00:58

Play along audio track for a first finger D in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 6-12s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:12

Play along audio track for a first finger D in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered earlier ones. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:27

Play along audio track for a second finger E in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 2-6s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:02

Play along audio track for a second finger E in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 6-12s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:09

Play along audio track for a second finger E in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered earlier ones. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:21

Play along audio track for a third finger F# in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 2-6s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:03

Play along audio track for a third finger F# in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 6-12s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:09

Play along audio track for a third finger F# in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered earlier ones. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:21

Play along audio track for a fourth finger G in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 2-6s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

00:57

Play along audio track for a fourth finger G in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered these 6-12s. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:10

Play along audio track for a fourth finger G in third position on the A string. May be used with supported wrist for wrist vibrato, as well as for arm vibrato. While you may continue to another finger, please do not move on to faster patterns until you have mastered earlier ones. Take it easy and only do as many in a bow as you can do consistently.

01:15

Play along audio track for a variety of more advanced vibrato practices using a first finger E in first position on the D string. Please listen to the "Play along track instructions" MP3 at the beginning of this section to ensure proper practicing.

01:14

Play along audio track for a variety of more advanced vibrato practices using a second finger F# in first position on the D string. Please listen to the "Play along track instructions" MP3 at the beginning of this section to ensure proper practicing.

01:14

Play along audio track for a variety of more advanced vibrato practices using a third finger G in first position on the D string. Please listen to the "Play along track instructions" MP3 at the beginning of this section to ensure proper practicing.

01:08

Play along audio track for a variety of more advanced vibrato practices using a fourth finger A in first position on the D string. Please listen to the "Play along track instructions" MP3 at the beginning of this section to ensure proper practicing.

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Instructor Biography

Laurel Thomsen, Violin & Viola Performance, Instruction, Recording

American genre-bending violinist, composer, and respected educator, Laurel Thomsen, has released a handful of albums and performed classically and for a variety of bands and artists since 1998. Since 2013 she has been touring over 150 dates a year throughout the North America as the "musically diverse and lyrically refreshing" Roots-Folk duo Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen.

With a rich and expressive violin tone and an interpretive style that can both rock a solo or add backup texture and groove, Laurel is frequently sought for her ability to add depth and emotion to diverse styles of music. Penguin Eggs Magazine called Laurel “a terrific violinist and accompanist".

Laurel is passionate about not only sharing music on stage, but helping others along on their musical path. Her multi-media guides to string playing technique - Improve Your Bowing Technique and Improve Your Violin and Viola Technique, available through String Letter Publishing, have become trusted educational supplements for violin, viola, and fiddle students around the world. Also a longtime Strings magazine contributor and the creator and host of iTunes’ popular Violin Geek Podcast, since 1996 Laurel has dedicated herself to the success of hundreds of violin, viola, and fiddle students as a private lessons and workshop instructor. Recognized for her abilities in troubleshooting challenges and inspiring dedicated students of all ages, since 2009, as the New York Times reported, Laurel has also been an innovator in the world of teaching online via Skype.


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