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How to Sing Like a Professional Using Vibrato: A Guide

Ever feel like your singing voice just isn't at pop star status? What is it that popular singers have that gives them an edge above the rest? Other than amazingly toned abs and lots of money, they have vibrato.

To put it simply, vibrato is a vibration in the voice or an oscillation of pitch that you generally hear at the end of notes. It means “vibrate” in Italian.

Vibrato is a style of voice technique that makes your singing sound better by giving it an undulation that is pleasant to the ear. It’s used in almost every genre of music, so why wouldn't you want to learn more about it?

Here's a fun fact: No one is born with vibrato, which means anyone can learn it! Let us show you how.

What Are the Types of Vibrato for Singing?

To start with, there are different types of vibrato. It’s used not only for singing but also on instruments. For our purpose here, we’ll try and sharpen your singing skills with two important types of vibrato: the hammer vibrato and the laryngeal vibrato.

  • Hammer Vibrato (also known as 'vocal cord' vibrato): A series of pulsations on the same note is how hammer vibrato is described. The movement of your vocal cords is used to prolong or change a note. Think of a gunner on top of a tank in a war scene steadily firing away, or the slow idling of a motor. This type is not quite as common as laryngeal vibrato.
  • Laryngeal Vibrato (also known as 'throat' vibrato): This is a variation in pitch by the up and down movement of the larynx. The voice alternates subtly and quickly between two pitches that are close together. Remember, this is not learned overnight, and you must have a good tone before vibrato will sound correct.

Click here to check out more on the different types of vibrato and how they sound.

What Musical Genres Use Vibrato?

Numerous singers use vibrato across various music genres. The type of singer you are or want to be will determine the vibrato that you want to develop. Although vibrato is used across almost all genres, there are a few that rely more heavily on it.

Those main genres where vibrato is more relied on are as follows:

  • Opera
  • Classical
  • Folk
  • Musical Theater

The main reason why vibrato is learned for the above-mentioned genres is to increase the loudness and projection of the singer’s voice. Before microphones were invented, not everyone would be able to hear the performance unless they were close to the stage. Singers had to learn how to project their voices so everyone in the audience could enjoy the show.

Now that you know the types of vibrato, how do you incorporate it into our singing voice?

The Main Components of Vibrato

There are three main components of vibrato: pitch, volume, and timbre. Let's take a look at the definition of each.

  • Pitch: This is the quality of a sound governed by the rate of vibrations producing it. It’s the degree of highness or lowness of a tone (the note you are singing).
  • Volume: This is the intensity of the note you are singing. It’s also said that vibrato will help you sing louder and with less fatigue of the voice.
  • Timbre: This is the quality of the tone (fullness of vibrato).

Each one of these components is important for enriching your singing voice and helping it reach its full potential. Now that you know what vibrato is, how in the world can you learn how to sing with vibrato?

Simple Tips and Techniques

Good news! You don't need singing lessons to strengthen your natural vibrato. With these simple tips and techniques, you can change the way you sing and possibly get that recognition you have been waiting for.

There are a lot of techniques out there to help you strengthen your vibrato. Continue reading as we share a few that we think will help get your singing voice to where you feel it should be.

The Diaphragm Technique

You have probably heard that using your diaphragm is extremely important when singing. Your singing instructor, choir director, or any instructional singing video viewed on the internet will tell you to “sing from your diaphragm.” Your diaphragm is what holds the air in your lungs.

When using a proper flat diaphragm, the air supply to your vocal cords will be better controlled. Hence, we come to our first technique: The Diaphragm Technique.

Free Photo of Singing Woman in Red Top and Black Framed Eyeglasses Listening to Music on Her Headphones Stock Photo

  • Stand with your posture upright.
  • Make a fist with one hand.
  • Cover the fist with the palm of your other hand.
  • Find your solar plexus, which should be about 2-3 inches above your navel.
  • Press in with little, short bursts while singing a constant single note out loud. A long Eeee note works perfectly for this.

As silly as it sounds, this will change your air and your volume when pressing into the solar plexus, and it will start teaching your vocal cords the vibration that will eventually lead to a natural vibrato. Even though it may sound a little wobbly at first, know that you’re on the right track.

The Beggar's Pulse

The Beggar's Pulse is another simple technique that can help train your vocal cords to open up the vibrato.

  • Find a nice long note you’re comfortable holding.
  • While singing the note, you’re going to have your hands clasped out in front of you.
  • With a light to medium movement, shake your hands back and forth (like you’re begging) until your whole body moves. Eventually, the pitch will start fluctuating, and the note will make a pulsing sound.
  • You can imagine someone grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you back and forth as you make an "uhhhhhh" sound to help you visualize this technique.

Click here to find these techniques and other similar ones.

The Humming Method

Another technique to help bring out your vibrato is the Humming Method.

  • Put your lips together and start humming.
  • Hum a pulse that sounds similar to that of starting a car with a dead battery.
  • Continue that pulse—first slowly and then gradually quicker until your vocal cords take over.

You may need to try one or all of these techniques to get you started on the right track. These techniques are great tools to make headway in learning vibrato, but none of these techniques can be accomplished without the correct breathing.

Breathing Tips

Good vibrato can't exist with tension. Breathing and relaxation are a must if you want to master these techniques. You must learn to relax not only your vocal cords but also your jaw, neck, and shoulders, all while having a constant, even breath flow.

Only airway vibrations can make true vibrato. You must also remember to breathe deeply from your lower lungs. Try not to raise your shoulders as you breathe in. Instead, relax your shoulders and focus the air directly into your lungs. If you follow these steps, your vocal cords will be able to vibrate freely.

If tension is an issue, there are many ways to relax the body and mind. Here are a few things that you can try:

  • Meditating
  • Breathing exercises
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Journaling

You can find more tips on how to relax the body and mind by clicking here.

Free Woman Sitting on Grass by Lake Stock Photo

What Does Vibrato Feel Like, and How Do You Know if You’re Doing It Right?

This may make you wonder if there’s a certain way your throat should feel, or if you have the correct fullness of the singing vibrato that you’re wanting. There isn’t one way to "feel" vibrato in your throat.

You may feel a type of "buzzing" in your throat, neck, or vocal cords while doing vibrato.

You may feel a quiver in your throat or air hitting the back of your throat. If you look at famous singers like Whitney Houston or Beyoncé, you may notice their jaw movement when singing vibrato.

Is this necessary to get your vibrato to that level? Absolutely not. However, it’s done to emphasize the vibration. Everyone seems to find a different way of "feeling" vibrato. Knowing this, we must ask ourselves, is there a wrong way to sing vibrato?

Is There a Wrong Way to Sing Vibrato?

Yes! There are common mistakes that will make your singing sound worse. Let's look at a few of these issues.

  • False vibrato: This occurs when airflow is modulated by the periodic and rhythmic movement of the abdomen. If your throat has tension or you’re not breathing correctly, you can create a sound that’s not true vibrato.
  • Too much vibrato: This involves putting too much vibrato into every note. Vibrato sounds pleasant when added to the end of notes; however, if it is present throughout your singing, it may not have the same effect and may cause you to sound like you’re trying too hard. It should be adding to the music, not putting a bunch of fluff into it.
  • Bleating: This occurs when the larynx alternatively resists and releases the excessive breath pressure. When you force the air out, it won’t sound controlled. Instead, it will sound like you're "bleating." No one wants to sound like a hungry goat when they’re singing!

Free A White Goat Eating Grass in a Farm Stock Photo

How can we keep from making these common mistakes? First, it depends on where you’re at as a singer and how much you’re willing to practice. If you’re just starting out, please don’t get discouraged!

So, the next question to ask is this: How long will it take, and how hard is vibrato to learn?

The short answer: This depends on you!

How Long Does It Take To Learn How to Sing Vibrato?

The answers vary, ranging anywhere from a week to a year and a half until you’re able to sing with a natural vibrato. However, don't get discouraged if it takes you longer than you thought it would.

If you have great control over pitching a note, then vibrato may come easier for you, and you may be able to learn within a few lessons. Having a good music teacher helps, of course, but he/she can only teach you so much. Your willingness to learn what it takes to become a better singer is up to you.

We recommend finding a vocal teacher near you that can help you improve your vibrato. If you’re unsure about who is in your area, ask other singers, music teachers, or music groups on the internet for a referral.

In the meantime, try some of the techniques we’ve shared with you, and practice until you feel like you’re getting closer to your vibrato coming out naturally.

How to Control Your Vibrato

Once you feel like you’re on your way to getting the hang of vibrato, one way to learn how to control it is to hold a note and practice increasing and decreasing your airflow.

You can try it fast and then slow. Make sure not to force your vibrato. If you force it, too much tension will be created in the vocal folds, which won’t allow them to relax.

This, in turn, won’t let it come out naturally and will make it sound weird. You may start by choosing a song you can over exaggerate and sing like an opera singer. Learning to sing like an opera singer may not be your end goal, but it will help bring out the inner vibrato diva.

On Your Way to Becoming a Better Singer

We hope you can now see the importance of vibrato and have a better understanding of how to enhance your natural singing voice with vibrato. Following the simple tips and techniques that we have outlined will help get you started. Whether it’s using your diaphragm more, shaking back and forth, humming, or working on your breathing, there’s an exercise that may work for you.

You may start out sounding wobbly and unsure whether it’s true vibrato or not. Be willing to sound a little funny in the hopes that one of these techniques will stick, and you’ll be on your way to success as a singer. Whether you’re a choir member, an aspiring professional musician, or someone who sings for fun, learning how to sing vibrato may open opportunities that you may not have known existed.

Don't forget: Practice makes perfect! You just have to keep practicing until your natural vibrato flows. Practice, practice, practice singing until you feel the vibrato coming out into your singing voice. Let us know in the comments if you tried any of these tips and techniques to help you in your journey to becoming a better singer.

Author

  • vibrato

    Mrs. Mandy Dokie was born and raised in the high desert. Her greatest joy in life and biggest supporters are her beautiful family including her husband of 12 years, and her 2 children, Rylan and Keira. She graduated from UC Riverside with a BA in Psychology: Law and Society. She has a passion for God, the outdoors, reading, writing, singing, and martial arts.

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