Common concerns among beginning singers relate to their vibrato, the lack of vibrato, too fast or too slow of a vibrato, inconsistent vibrato, faux vibrato originating in the forcible shaking of the diaphragm or shaking of the jaw, etc…. Typically, I quote Maria Callas, “Vibrato is the gift of good technique.”. I realize this isn’t comforting to the student, but it is simply the truth. The vibrato or spin of the voice appears as technical issues and tensions are released through deliberate focuses and exercises.
I find, most often, students make corrections after we’ve raised awareness to their technical concerns. An example of this is audible breathing. I have new students research audible breaths by listening to their favorite recording artists, and compiling a short list of the worst “offenders”. We discuss the way an audible breath causes tension, and how a full, quiet, relaxed inhalation can set the voice for a tension-free onset. Over time, most students no longer need reminders to silently inhale. This is the first step in my approach to releasing inhibiting tension, and establishing the student’s balanced vibrato.
A helpful approach is sustaining alternating straight tone and free tone in exercise while focusing on a low, full breath. This type of vocalize can raise the student’s awareness to their natural vibrato. Time and training is the only tried-and-true solution to lack of vibrato. I know, I know…this is not a quick-fix, but as vocal imbalances are corrected, vibrato will be awakened.