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How can you help teach a student to naturally let vibrato happen? For example if a student has been previously taught to sing with a mostly straight tone or reprimanded by people for singing with vibrato and doesn't know how to let it naturally happen, how do you teach that? Especially if it occasionally will come through in their lower register but they really struggle with it in the upper register?

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Work with it in the lower register. Natural vibration comes from a relaxed and balanced phonation. Just enough air flow, just enough cord closure, Just enough resistance from a downward feeling in the larynx. The vibration of the vocal folds has a chance to interact with the other muscles and create an oscillating effect. Let the student know what is causing the vibrato and get to know the feeling of relaxation and balance.

Usually in the higher notes we have too much tension that does not allow for the natural movement of the other muscles.

There are different things that people do to "Create" Vibrato...This can be different from "Natural" vibrato. The Vibrato CAN come from a movement in the lips, Jaw, Larynx or diaphragm....A Natural vibrato can occur from these places also, but it is still from a relaxed and balanced phonation.

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First time I produced a natural vibrato, it was on the highest note I could reach at the time. Almost stalling on the note somehow produced the vibrato.

I think that vibrato itself is hyped and overrated.

What is really interesting is movement on the held note, in general. Pitch is only one aspect of a note. You can get other interesting dynamic shifts on a held note. Vibrato is a rather plain dynamic. Because it is plain and evident, it can be used by classical singers to show of a level of control, e.g where they end a phrase with a precise number of wiggles. But, I don't think that vibrato is the most expressive dynamic.

With the appoggio technique, vibrato is achieved by keeping everything "fixed". But it is not really fixed. That would kill any dynamic. The singer has to find, feel and subtly play around a fixed or "equilibrium" position. I think that a great sense of energy and movement around that steady position is crucial. With appoggio, the diaphragm and abs are in opposition. That opposition is active on a held note, meaning that it is constantly finding the equilibrium balance without freezing on it. That can produce a vibrato or other dynamic.

 

 

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