When you listen to numerous artists worldwide, there is a wide variety of vocal qualities and techniques that singers use to add spice to their singing. One of the most popular techniques that a lot of singers use is singing vibrato.
What is vibrato, then?
The first time you heard someone singing vibrato, it might’ve sounded like the singer’s voice was shaking while sustaining a note during a song. But the vibrato technique is more than that.
Vibrato is an oscillation, or a swaying back and forth, between two pitches. Think of a song like you would a painting. The vibrato acts like an accent or something that adds more color to that painting. All genres use vibrato, but how much and how often it is used varies per genre.
Vibrato in singing has many benefits. It improves your pitch, improves the release of your voice, expands the palate of resonance or the quality of your voice, and improves trills, among other benefits when you undertake singing lessons for how to sing vibrato.
Singing with vibrato can be heard in most styles of music. In fact, when it comes to the use of vibrato in singing different musical genres, Pop, Rock, R&B, and Musical Theater all use it. As a result, learning to sing with vibrato is important for singers of almost any genre.
Is there a specific age range when you want to learn to sing vibrato and have a great vibrato sound? No! It comes naturally, especially if you have a solid vocal technique.
Whether you want to find out a different technique to make your singing more unique and are just about to start learning how to sing vibrato or you are looking for more tips and tricks to improve your vibrato singing style, we are here to help you!
Before we start to learn and practice how to use vibrato in singing properly and what’s the sound of vibrato, we must first learn the different common methods used to produce a sound similar to vibrato.
It is important to note, however, that even if these techniques manage to produce a sound close to a natural vibrato, in the long run, they are damaging to your vocal cords and produce bad singing habits.
A diaphragmatic vibrato is a diaphragmatic pulsating during a sustained note. An artificial vibrato is produced by rapidly and rhythmically pushing on your abdomen while vocalizing on a single note.
This kind of movement eventually becomes destructive to your vocal technique because this movement doesn’t produce controlled breathing, which is essential in singing.
When you do it this way, it only tends to produce a tremolo effect, where only the volume changes while the pitch stays the same. Another con of doing this technique is that the breathing technique requires more focus and makes it harder to stay on pitch.
Another technique that singers use to sing vibrato is a vocal trill vibrato where you move half a step up and down in pitch, gradually increasing in speed.
However, with the vocal trill technique, it is more difficult to produce the ideal vibrato rate of six to eight oscillations per second when singing vibrato. What this technique produces instead is a vocal wobble.
One famous technique that singers can sing, like Whitney Houston or Halsey use, is what is commonly termed as “Gospel Jaw.” Gospel jaw is achieved by quivering the jaw movement and tongue in speedy intervals.
However, this tenses up your vocal cords, making them more stressed, and can damage your singing voice later on.
Caprino is a term of singing technique that is used when the vibrato voice is like the bleating of a goat due to a tremolo-like pulsation while trying to sustain the same note. It is caused when you either put pressure on the root of your tongue or when you exert too much energy in the high vocal range.
These are some techniques and methods that we must consciously avoid as we learn how to sing vibrato. Now that we are aware, we can now proceed to produce a natural vibrato properly.
Learn How To Sing Vibrato
When learning how to sing in vibrato, we must consider its three main components.
Pitch is the note that the vocalist is singing.
Volume is the strength or intensity of that note.
Timbre is the tone of the note.
You have to consciously keep these in mind as you continue practicing. Are you just pulsating the dynamics of your voice? Are you singing in the right pitch? Are you doing the ideal vibrato rate? These are important as you start practicing singing with vibrato.
While the process and time frame of learning to sing with vibrato differs per person, here are some steps you can do to start learning how to sing in vibrato:
1. Take Note of Your Posture
Before we start to sing vibrato, we must have good posture. When singing the vibrato, everything is crucial in achieving the right kind.
One of the important things to consider is your stance when you sing because when you have the right, good posture, you will be more effective as a vocalist, and it would be easier for you to sing the right tones.
First of all, you must have a straight posture. When you are slouched while you sing, you will have a more difficult time releasing the right notes, and it makes you exert more effort, thus making your vocal cords tenser.
After standing tall, you must also make sure that your hips are above your feet or your legs are shoulder-width apart.
Lastly, while singing, and trying to learn to sing vibrato, you must look straight ahead. Not looking straight or keeping your head either too high or too low has a similar effect to slouching while you are seated or standing up.
It causes your vocals to tense up more because you exert more effort to let your voice out.
Here’s an exercise you can do every day to learn and practice proper posture while singing to develop a good vibrato voice:
- Stand up against a wall and have your entire back touching the wall, including your shoulders and head.
- Place one hand over your abdomen while you are breathing. This is to ensure that your abdomen is expanding and relaxed.
- When you become well-adjusted to the feeling, try to continue rising until you are almost tiptoed. It should feel like you are floating or buoyant.
Another good exercise to do to have a good singing posture is doing stretches. You can do this every day during the morning or before your singing practice. Here are a few stretches you can practice at home:
● Reaching for the sky: Start by standing tall, then stretch your arms over your head for as far as you can. If you can, also stand tiptoed to stretch your legs. Hold your elongated pose for a couple of seconds and feel your entire body stretch.
● Shoulder Shrugs: This is very helpful when you tend to slouch a lot. Raise your shoulders until your ears then release. Repeat it a couple of times.
● Head Rolls: Drop your head towards your chest and then GENTLY roll your head clockwise, and then once you’ve made a full turn, roll your head counterclockwise.
● Chest and Shoulder Stretch: This is a good way to stretch your back and shoulders. Place your arms behind you. Clasp your hands together and then pull downward. You should feel your chest and shoulders being stretched out with this exercise.
2. You Must Have Proper Breathing
The ideal oscillation rate when you sing vibrato is six or eight oscillations per second. This can be achieved by being conscious of how you control your breathing.
The proper way of controlling your breathing when you sing is by being deliberate in your breathing through your diaphragm.
Here’s a quick guide to finding out how if you are properly controlling your breathing:
● First, stand up straight and then place your hand on your abdomen.
● Breathe in using your mouth. As you breathe in, keep your shoulders and chest still, and feel the air expand your stomach.
● Exhale also using your mouth. You should be able to feel your stomach deflating with your hand as you exhale.
Here are a few exercises you can do to practice controlling your breathing:
● Lie down on a flat surface on your back and place your hands on your stomach. Breath in and feel your stomach expanding. Exhale and feel your stomach deflating. This is the feeling that you must duplicate when you sing.
● Stand upright and place your hands on your abdomen. Breathe in for a total of 5 counts, making sure that your stomach is expanding and not your shoulders or chest. Hold your breath for a second and then slowly exhale for 9 counts, releasing the air through your mouth in a hissing sound. Imagine that you are like a balloon slowly deflating.
Once you can get the hang of these exercises, you can do other breathing exercises. Jacobs Vocal Academy offers a playlist of different breathing exercises that you can try.
3. Find the Right Balance With Your Voice
To achieve natural vibrato, you must find the balance in relaxing your body and voice. If your voice is too tensed up, you will end up producing a caprino tone, making you sound like a bleating goat. If your voice is too relaxed, you will be producing a tremolo and end up with slower oscillations.
One way to achieve the right balance is to warm up your voice and do vocal exercises daily. Here are a few vocal warm-up exercises you can do:
● Tongue-Loosening Exercise: Close your lips, then rotate your tongue around your gums and inner cheeks at least 10 times.
● Humming Exercise: Close your mouth and then place your tongue against your bottom front teeth. Then hum as you go through the major scale, making sure that your mouth is closed.
● Loosen Your Jaw: For a couple of times, open your jaw as you would when you would yawn, but make sure to keep your mouth closed.
Another way to find the right balance is to practice resonating your voice. Vocal resonance is the echoing of your tone as you sing.
Once you can get the hang of finding the balance of your vocal technique, then you can move onto vocal exercises specifically catered to practicing your vibrato.
To get a feel of how a vibrato should feel like, do this exercise: Do a diaphragmatic breath and then replicate the sound of a car starting its engine.
4. Be Patient With Your Progress
Again, there is no cookie-cutter way and timeline of learning vibrato. No one person is the same, so be patient with yourself.
As you practice, there will be good days and bad days. If vibrato does not come, do not force it because you might end up with a tense voice.
Learning how to sing vibrato may take time. No exact timeframe will indicate how long it will take to learn. Most beginning singers tend to be stronger in one of their vocal registers. We call these registers the chest voice and the head voice.
For instance, if you sing breathy and light on the bottom of your voice, it’s because you have a stronger grip on the muscles that regulate head voice. Or if you yell and strain when singing higher notes, that means you’re dominant in the muscles that control chest voice.
Please don’t put too much pressure on yourself because you might end up forcing your voice to produce vibrato artificially, eventually damaging them in the process. Please do not compare your timbre with the mainstream artists because they intentionally make their vibrato more pronounced.
Don’t give up. Continue to put time and effort into working on the basics of singing techniques. The key is consistency. Just keep at it daily, and you’ll be surprised that one day you’ll be able to produce vibrato naturally.
If you find learning to sing by yourself difficult, hiring a vocal coach might better suit your needs, or more simply, why not consider online singing lessons?
We’ve compared and reviewed the best online singing lessons here.