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How to Sing Vibrato – 3 Most Important Tips You’ll Ever Need!

I like to keep things really simple, because that's really how people learn the fastest, including myself.

I did think about writing a post about "50 Tips and Exercises to develop a vibrato."

But I thought, other than it being a really cool title and post to rank on Google, it's not going to help anybody.

All you need is one or two simple tricks to practice and develop a vibrato or any other singing skills.

So, I've decided to write about what really matters when it comes to developing vibrato.

I don't want to tell you any fluff, because the truth is it's really simple!

After I share with you how to sing vibrato with the 3 most important tips, the rest is just hard work to develop this singing skill.

Why is Vibrato Important for Singing?

Before I share my top 3 tips for developing a Vibrato, please bear with me as I explain to you why vibrato is important for your singing.

I know that for some forms of pop and rock singing, vibrato is probably not used as much as other musical styles.

But, you should still develop it even if you don't have to use it as often in your songs. 

Reason #1 - Vibrato is a natural musical expression

Aesthetically, it sounds great and most natural to hear at the end of a musical phrase. 

Even for rock and metal guys, those who are truly master rock vocalists can do vibrato in their singing.

Jon Bon Jovi, one of the most "beautiful" voice for rock and metal, has a very natural vibrato!

In my opinion, having the ability to sing vibrato helps your musical phrasing, even if you don't use it a lot - you get a feel of how to do phrasing in your songs.

When singers are choppy and have no phrasing while singing, they really don't sound that good - at least for my ears.

Reason #2 - Vibrato balances the vocal muscles

There is a reason why vibrato happens. 

When the singer is in a balance state while singing, meaning they are using the right amount of air flow and cord closure, vibrato will happen.

Most singers have no vibrato when they are starting out.

I remember I was trying so hard to practice vibrato in high school, because I didn't have one. 

In the beginning it was unnatural because the muscles are tight and the pulsing is uneven - either too fast or too slow.

After practicing for a period of time, my voice started having vibrato "naturally," and it sounds good.

When the vibrato is right, that means the muscles are working correctly - not too tight and not too loose.

Robin Trower

Rock Vocalist & Guitarist

"I think the fundamental part of my technique is my vibrato."

Reason #3 - Vibrato can be used for emotional expressions

Once you mastered vibrato, you will notice that you can control the speed, "wideness," and intensity of the vibrato.

Thus, vibrato becomes a great tool for emotional expression.

When you are expressing warmth, you use a slightly slower vibrato.

On the other hand, when you are expressing excitement, anger, and other strong emotions, you can use a faster and wider vibrato to enhance the emotional intensity of your singing.

Here it is - The 3 Most Important Tips to Practice Vibrato

I still remember how I started singing with no vibrato and how I practiced to get one eventually, so here it is:

1. Pulsing

This is just the rapid change is vocal dynamic from strong-soft-strong-soft with the diaphragm pumping at a fast frequency.

Imitate how a dog pants - that's exactly how it feels in the diaphragm when you practice pulsing for vibrato.

Actually, "dog panting" is a breath exercise used by some old-school voice teachers to develop vibrato in their students.

Another way to practice pulsing is to place the fingers of both of your hands on the diaphragm just below the rib cage and jiggle your upper stomach with your hand while your sing a long note.

You will notice your voice will start pulsing, but that's not vibrato yet.

In order to have a complete vibrato you need to have the second thing...

2. Pitch Fluctuation

This is your voice fluctuating between 2 notes - usually a second or a third apart.

For example, sing AH on middle C(C4) and drop the pitch down to Bb3, and then back up to C.

Do this pitch fluctuation about 6 times slowly at first.

Speed up the pitch fluctuation little by little - the end goal is to do this 6 times per second!

And, you do the pitch fluctuation with pulsing together!

3. Get Complete Vocal training on your voice

For most singers, vibrato happens naturally after they have been singing for a period of time.

When singers receive proper vocal training to build a stronger voice and get fuller control of their voices, they usually can do vibrato at will, even if they are not trained to develop vibrato directly.

In my opinion, this is probably the best way to have a vibrato, because vibrato is a peculiar thing.

Sometimes when you try to have one intentionally, and you focus too much on it, it might sound awkward and unnatural.

The best way to develop a vibrato is to one day have it without you even noticing it.

When I'm trying to say is - let vibrato be the result of good training and great singing. It will sound best this way!

If after a period of vocal training, you still don't have vibrato, then you can start training it with a more direct approach.

My conclusion about Vibrato

People have different opinions about the development of Vibrato. 

Some voice teachers are vehement about the practice of developing the vibrato directly.

I take more of a moderate and neutral position in this subject.

If a student comes to me wanting to develop vibrato, I will take them through vocal practices #1 and #2 shared in this post without hesitation.

I will do all that I can to help the student develop vibrato, if they express interest or concern about it.

Otherwise, I will take them through standard vocal training, and for most of them, vibrato will happen sooner or later.

If you have anything you want to discuss about Vibrato, please comment below.

Happy Singing,

Rex 

Rex
 

I am a professional singer and vocal coach in Taipei, Taiwan. I have been studying the art of singing for over 20 years. I dedicated my life to helping singers progress and excel in their singing skills, as well as inspire them to reach their fullest potential as performers.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Toni - July 24, 2020

Singing lower notes with vibrato is relatively easy, and for some it comes automatically. Now I wonder if vibrato has to be a controlled thing though as you sing higher notes. Or maybe with more training even while singing high notes vibrato should come automatically – which would signifies mastery?
Of course, you should use vibrato always in a controlled way, but I’m curious to know if vibrato comes for trained singers in high notes as easily and automatically as in lower notes.
Thanks.

Reply
    Rex - July 24, 2020

    Toni,

    Singing high involves more muscular tension, so in theory, vibrato will come in easier on the low notes.

    Rex

    Reply

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