How to Sing With Vibrato: Correcting A Wobble

Learning how to sing with vibrato as a singer is one of the ways to really make an impact on your audience – but there are a few things to avoid when you’re learning the technique technique of singing vibrato. Take a look at Seal Beach voice teacher Carl B.’s advice here…

As a singing teacher for many years, I am totally audience oriented, and my notes on audience psychology date back to 1984. My entire orientation in singing is to drive the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

In order to do this, it is very important to manage your vibrato to make sure it is pleasing to your audience. Vibrato is the pleasant fluctuation of the voice while singing. It is also a natural occurring event in many sounds.

Do you want to learn how you can start singing vibrato – ideally without the dreaded wobble that so many singers fear? I’ll walk you through it in this post!

What is Vibrato in Singing?

singing vibrato

Essentially, vibrato is just a rapid, slight variation in pitch as you sing. This is marked by a rapid wavering in the timbre and intensity of the note that is being sung.

Want to see a vibrato singing example? Check out the video below to get an idea of how to sing high notes with vibrato – based on what the pros do!

Learning to sing vibrato is important regardless of the style of music you prefer to sing. It’s most often used in pop, R&B, musical theater, and country music. It’s rarely used in blended singing environments, like a capella or barbershop music, but still – singing vibrato is an important skill to master.

Is Singing Vibrato Difficult?

singing vibrato

Singing vibrato can be a challenging skill to master as a new singer, but there are a few key benefits of learning how to sing vibrato for beginners. Singing vibrato:

  • Allows you to amplify your voice, singing louder with far less pressure on your voice
  • Encourages health vocal cords
  • Lets you hold a note longer without requiring more breath

Of course, one of the best ways to learn how to do vibrato in singing is to take a vibrato singing lesson. In this kind of lesson, you’ll not only learn how to master the art of singing vibratobut you’ll also learn things like vocal warmupsdifferent musical stylesand various types of singing exercises that can improve your voice.

You’ll also uncover tips on how to improve your vocal rangesomething that can be beneficial regardless of whether you’re singing vibrato. Here’s an example:

How to Sing Vibrato Without a Wobble

singing vibrato

1. Avoid the Tremolo

If you want to learn how to sing vibrato naturallyone of the first things you will want to master is how to do so without a wobble.

As you’re learning how to sing with vibrato, it can be easy for the beginner to develop poor habits. Too fast a vibrato, for example, is called a tremolo. The French often affect a tremolo deliberately while singing, but most other audiences find it less than enjoyable. Too wide a vibrato is called a wobble, and it can be the most difficult problem in singing to correct.

Research shows that the ideal vibrato for maximum audience enjoyment is 1/8th of one note fluctuation in pitch, and 5 to 7 fluctuations per second. Of course, we don’t count them, just listen critically to yourself in the presence of a singing teacher you trust.

2. Control the Vocal Cords

If you have a wobble, you yourself will not likely recognize it, even in a recording. To cure a wobble, first observe the unusual head movements by the singer while singing. If the head bobs up and down to the timing of the wobble or the jaw bobs excessively, teachers can guide the student to control those movements. The wobble should moderate significantly but not entirely. Since a wobble is going up and down in pitch, instruct the student to take more control of the vocal cords.

The vocal cords are partly controlled by the arytenoids, two structures at the back of the vocal cords. To reduce a wobble to a more pleasant vibrato, hold the arytenoids more firmly without tightening the throat or jaw muscles, which virtually do not exist in singing. Throat and jaw muscles must be completely relaxed, both to produce resonance, and also to allow for freedom of movement in changing pitch.

3. Avoid Tightening Jaw and Throat Muscles

One of the most important and most difficult tasks of the student is to identify which muscles of the vocal instrument must be used, and which muscles absolutely must never be engaged while singing. So in working to cure a wobble, the student must be careful to avoid tightening the throat or jaw muscles. To clarify, the throat muscle used in singing is the thin inner lining of the throat and is implemented with a “beginning of a yawn” motion to enhance the echo chamber which adds size, tone and quality to the sound. If the singer goes beyond just the beginning of a yawn, the throat muscles tighten.

It is unlikely that a student with a severe wobble will cure it forever. Regular, ongoing coaching and private vocal lessons can certainly help!

Slow down and be patient while you work on your vocal technique – with time, you’ll likely find that the vibrato happens on its own.

4. Stretch Before Singing

There are all sorts of exercises you can do before singing that will help you to warm up your voice and your entire body to prepare for the art of vibrato. Stretch, drink a glass – even do some yoga! All of these things can help you prepare for vibrato singing.

5. Maintain Good Posture

This is a good rule of thumb for singing in general, but if you want to avoid the wobble while singing vibrato, make sure you’re maintaining a good posture. You’ll have much better airflow if you stand correctly with a straight line between your neck, head, and spine.

6. Use That Diaphragm

Breathing exercises, along with singing with vibrato exercises and tips like thesecan go a long way in helping you learn how to develop vibrato singing.

However, the most important thing to remember is that you need to take advantage of your diaphragm. Far too many singers slouch and sing from the throat instead of the diaphragm, which can wreck a good vibrato.

Instead, sing your notes while taking a deep breath into your belly – let them cycle in front of you and the vibrato should happen on its own without you having to do much at all.

Is Vibrato Natural or Learned?

singing vibrato

Although there are plenty of ways you can learn how to get good vibrato singing, for the most part, this is a natural behavior. Vibrato often happens naturally when you have a solid vocal technique – meaning the better you get at singing in general, the better you will get at vibrato singing!

For singers who have good voice development, vibrato often occurs on its own. By improving your breathing technique and tone support, you should be able to encourage vibrato on its own. Voices that have a cleaner, more efficient tone are also more likely to have good vibrato skills.

One of the best ways to learn how to do vibrato in singing, whether it comes naturally to you or not, is to sign up for singing lessons. Not only will you get some actionable tips that will help you learn how to improve vibrato singing on your own, but you’ll also improve as a singer in other areas, too.

Give singing lessons a try today – and have fun singing vibrato whenever the song calls for it or the mood strikes!

Seal Beach teacher Carl B. Carl B. teaches singing and speaking voice lessons to students of all ages in Seal Beach, CA. Carl teaches singing in English, Italian, Spanish, & German, in all styles including pop, jazz, classical, & country & western. He joined the TakeLessons team in August 2012. Learn more about Carl, or visit TakeLessons to search for a vocal teacher near you!

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Photo by George Laoutaris.

Suzy S.

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