Vibrato | Grammy Nominations | Choir Management

Vibrato is possible for any singer, with a little time.
Original Publish Date: December 1st, 2020
Last updated: December 1st, 2020

Vibrato is something many singers are desperate to develop. Singers are in a hurry to develop vibrato because there are genres and situations where vibrato is expected, but singers take heart: vibrato is optional in many singing contexts. This means that you can slow down and take the time really required to develop a natural and tension-free vibrato. 

Here are some vibrato tips to get you started:

1. Know that you can. If you are blessed with a basically healthy body and larynx, then it is scientifically and physically possible for you to sing with vibrato. It is just a matter of developing the right coordination, which takes time. It may be true that some people develop vibrato more quickly than others (lucky ducks!), but everyone can.

2. Learn to produce a clear, resonant tone first. Singing skills must be well-coordinated before a natural vibrato is possible. Posture, breath management, resonance – all these must be working well. When singers rush to sing with vibrato, they often end up with a vibrato that is full of tension and not very natural. You can of course choose a breathy tone, or any other vocal colors you desire, but for encouraging vibrato, go for that pure ringing sound.

3. Reduce tension when you sing. The throat must be very free in order to create vibrato, as it requires a subtle rocking of the larynx and other structures in the vocal tract. Never force vibrato to happen. Most singers will naturally start to create vibrato while they are busy focussing on other things, like reducing tension. That subtle rocking motion, by the way, does not include the jaw. If you want to move your jaw along with your vibrato, it is merely a dramatic effect and doesn’t help you create vibrato.

4. Try a “cheat” but then return to the long road. Shortcuts or “cheats” can be fun and even helpful, but the only way to natural-sounding vibrato is through “letting” it – not “making” it – happen over time. (BTW one of these fun “cheats” is to grasp your hands in front of you, sing a long note, then rapidly move your hands up and down like you are shaking a martini. Presto! Vibrato! It’s really fun and exciting to hear yourself sing with vibrato! By all means try it! But then go back to being patient for your real, beautiful vibrato to develop over time.)

For more help on how to develop vibrato, upgrade to premium and take How to Develop Vibrato by Jaime Babbitt.

Grammy Nominations and Vibrato

Just listen to these song nominations for the Grammy Awards’ Record of the year category this year, and you won’t hear a whole lot of vibrato. Post Malone’s signature vibrato is more of a quiver and – though it works great for him – is not the type of vibrato most singers are aiming for. Billie Eilish and Eric Burton of Black Pumas use a little sprinkling of vibrato here and there, but most of this year’s top vocals are decidedly wobble free. Up beat tempos, quick rhythms and spoken rap lyrics don’t lend themselves to vibrato, which means even Beyoncé – whose vibrato graces many of her hits – didn’t use much vibrato in her nominated “Black Parade.”

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