"Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living." ~ Ibo proverb

I want to learn how to vibrato. Every advanced violinist knows vibrato and until I learn it I cannot move on from the intermediate stage.

The violin mimics the human voice, it sings out, but only as much as the musician can manage. Every song sounds better with a little vibrato, at least that’s what I believe. It’s about time I learned how to do it. 

Yes, I am aware that there are many songs that do not ask for vibrato, but it’s a skill I’ve always wanted to learn, and intend to learn. I just need to have patience.

I’ve been playing the violin since the fifth grade and have never been able to convince a single instructor to teach me vibrato. 

They always focused on the basics and said that we’d eventually get to it, while my peers were being taught it without practicing arpeggios every day. 

I understand that many people learn vibrato before they are ready, but I was ready. 

For example, there are people who can play vibrato but are unable to keep their bow aligned with the bridge of their violin – so their bow ends up flying all over the strings. 

Then, they find out they’ve been holding their instrument with their hand instead of letting it rest on their shoulder. Then, it turns out the issues they’ve been having with shifting positions is because they’re hand was gripping the neck, and they have to re-adjust their hand positions. 

Anyway, I do understand my teacher’s concerns, but still, part of the reason I wanted to play the violin was to create the vibrato sound. 

I always had major imposter syndrome when comparing myself to my peers at my violin school, who’d been playing since they were very small children. Every single person during concerts knew vibrato already. 

In high school, I finally found a friend who was also at the beginner/intermediate level. The other girls were very supportive and it was the only class I really felt at home in. 

Once I transferred, I had to start learning the flute at my new school. I stopped playing the violin for over three years straight!

I was so excited to start my violinist journey once again in college, and took lessons my entire freshman year. 

I was unsure about joining the orchestra when I hadn’t touched a violin in years, but was convinced in the spring semester. 

The imposter syndrome was powerful then. It was bad enough being the only Black girl, and a first year, but I was also the novice. My perfectionism was out of control and every missed note made me feel miserable. 

It felt like everyone knew things that I didn’t, and I felt like an outsider. I mean, what’s wrong with me? I should know all of these techniques and have listened to all of these songs, right?

When I look back on my experience, I was doing just fine. My music teacher’s were right to focus on my form and sound. 

Learning vibrato takes time, and I wouldn’t make much progress in my playing if I only focused on one technique. At the same time, I still wish we at least tried a few times, because it would’ve helped ease my anxiety. 

I’m more realistic now, and see that I was so silly for comparing myself to people who came to college to play music. I should not have compared myself to people who intended to study classical music or become music teachers. 

There was a girl who sat next to me, and she was always nice to me, and always tried to make me feel like I belonged. Social anxiety really did a number on me, huh? 

I see now that it’s never too late to learn vibrato, which is why I’ve begun practicing my instrument again. I can learn vibrato at my pace. I just have to practice patience and stay consistent.

A lot of my friends have already been to Japan, and other countries, but someday I’ll catch up!

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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