Done well, vibrato is a beautiful effect that any voice will benefit from. It won’t come to you overnight, but if you’re wondering how to sing vibrato naturally, there are techniques to help you get there.
Have you ever heard Lady Gaga sing? Even if her style of music isn’t your favorite, you’ve got to admit that she has a killer vibrato.
And no matter what your style is, a good natural vibrato can add a lot of warmth and timbre to your singing.
Be prepared to put in a fair amount of work, and be patient with yourself. Contrary to popular belief, vibrato can be learned. It’s not a case of being born with or without it.
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What Is Vibrato and Where to Use It?
Putting all the technical talk aside, vibrato is just how your voice sounds when it is released naturally from your vocal cords, with no strain. It sounds like a wavering and involves the pitch, timbre, and volume of a note.
Some use it more, others less, but vibrato can be heard in most styles of music, including R&B, Pop, Rock, an Musical Theatre.
The exceptions are those genres that blend voices, like choir and a capella. This is simply because harmonizing 40 wiggling voices is the equivalent of a miracle.
Ture Vibrato is NOT…
- A Vocal Trill. A vocal trill is a riff that spans different notes. Vibrato is a wavering on the same note.
- The Result of Pulsing Your Diaphragm. A true vibrato doesn’t come from forcefully pushing your abdomen in and out.
- An Effect of Shaking or Moving Your Jaw. The so-called gospel jaw was popularized by singers like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. It’s a theatric and not the reason behind their amazing vibratos.
And shaking your larynx with your hand is not the way to work on your vibrato, either. Vibrato works best when your voice is relaxed, and most of these techniques do the opposite, adding tension instead.
So What Is a Real Vibrato?
Let’s begin by getting rid of one popular myth. No one is born with vibrato. Just like any other singing technique, vibrato gets better with practice. And vibrato comes out best when the voice is in balance.
Vibrato is the result of opposing groups of muscles tensing and relaxing as you hold a sustained note. It is the muscles’ natural response to fatigue. They start to quiver, resulting in a wavering in the sound of your voice.
That is precisely why developing a good vibrato takes time because balancing your muscles out takes time.
Most singers are naturally stronger in either their chest voice or their head voice. And before you can sing vibrato, you need to balance these two registers.
To Sing True Vibrato, You Need:
- Correct singing posture
- Correct breathing technique (diaphragmatic breath)
- A balanced voice
You also need to learn to stay relaxed while you sing. Too much tension as you sing can mean your vocal cords are too tight, making it hard to get a good vibrato going.
And finally, patience. Even with practice, it may take a while before you can hear vibrato in your voice.
Pre-Vibrato: Diaphragmatic Exercises
If you’ve never been able to produce a vibrato, an excellent way to start is to get the feeling of alternating breath first.
Diaphragmatic vibrato is not a true vibrato at any one point. But it will help you get a feel for the volume variations in real vibrato.
Pulsing Your Diaphragm
- Make a fist with your left hand, and cover it with the right hand
- Place your hands about an inch above your belly button, keeping them in the above position
- Now take a breath and sing the vowel ‘ee’ at a comfortable pitch (Guys E3, girls B3)
- As you’re singing your ‘ee,’ pump your abdomen rapidly with your hands, as if you’re giving yourself CPR
- Aim to pulse the hands at about 6 cycles every second
As you do this exercise, you should hear a pulse in your breath. You know you’ve got it right if it sounds like you’re trying to start a car, but failing.
You can practice pulsing your hands first with a timer before you attempt to sing your ‘ee.’ This will give you an idea of the right speed, so when you start singing, you can focus on your sound instead of worrying about the pulsing.
Vibrato Pitch Exercises
Once you’ve mastered the diaphragmatic breath, it’s time to experiment with varying the pitch. When you first start pitch exercises, you can focus on the pitch only. Ideally, with time, you’ll add the alternating breath too.
Example Exercise on the ‘Jaws’ Theme
- Take a breath and hum a delicious ‘mmmm’ sound on a comfortable pitch.
- Hum a half-step up to the next note. It should sound like the ‘Jaws’ melody.
- Alternate between your first and second notes. Start slowly, then build up as much speed as you can.
- Once you have this going very fast, try mentally letting the interval go, and see if you can make the first note waver.
You may not get a vibrato right away. Just focus on getting a steady pulse going between those two notes.
With time, you’ll be able to get a waiver on the first note only, without going up to the second note.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
There are many more exercises out there to work on your vibrato. Remember, no one is born with it.
It may take some time, but it’s something you can learn. Just keep working on it, and give yourself some time.
If you need some help on how to sing vibrato naturally, you should check out 30 Day Singer. Their online singing program is our number one recommendation and they have a good video tutorial on vibrato and other advanced singing techniques.
You can sign up for a free trial for 14 days HERE to check it out.
Final Words: How to Sing Vibrato Naturally?
A good natural vibrato will add richness and warmth to your voice and make you sound like a great singer.
But there is no shortcut to developing a good vibrato. You have to be patient and put in a fair amount of practice.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear a vibrato in your voice right away. The surest way to a natural vibrato is a balanced voice, and balance takes time.
I hope this post was helpful to you and you now have a better idea of how to sing vibrato naturally.
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