Vibrato is the natural wobble in your voice that takes place when you hold a long or semi-long note. It's a variation between two pitches that often happens very fast and can help bring richness to your singing tone.
Some singers have a heavy vibrato that wobbles so much that it sounds like they're off-key, while others barely have a vibrato at all and sound like they're singing straight-tone.
Vibrato seems like a weird thing to try to give a helpful tip on. It's something that should already be engrained into your vocal style without trying if you've been singing for a while.
To try and teach someone how to sing vibrato doesn't seem like it makes a lick of sense, really, but I actually had an interesting experience with vibrato from an early age.
When I was younger, I grew up in church hearing some very powerful, wobbly vibratos. If you know anything about classic, southern baptist church songs, you've heard the type of vibrato I'm talking about.
Many older people in the church would really bring out some beautiful emotion in their long notes with their intense vibratos. Sometimes it was a bit too much for my taste, but I always felt like singers with vibrato had more talent for some reason.
I learned classical and operatic singing throughout high school and college, so vibrato obviously had a huge part in my singing style. In the classical world, your operatic voice ideally came through with a good amount of rich vibrato.
It's strange for a young singer to switch from pop or gospel to classical, but at the start of our classical voice journeys as teens and preteens, I truly think we all just mimicked what we'd imagine operatic vibrato should be.
From that point, we learned to get a feel for what our natural vibrato would sound like with our voice lessons.
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Like my peers, I wanted to give the most genuine-sounding tone and vibrato at the end of my notes when it came to opera, but I wasn't trained from the start, so I faked it heavily.
All I needed to do was picture a great singer like Pavarotti and sing "Figaro Figaro Figaro" until my mimicking was on point. Somehow, people were impressed, so I kept going.
Not only did I fake my vibrato with classical, but I realized I wanted a little heavier vibrato in other styles like my R&B. I wanted some long and powerful notes with beautiful vibrato like mother Whitney Houston had, so I added a little more to compensate for my 'boring vibrato'.
Now I'm not going to tell you this helped or hindered my process, but it definitely did something important to me.
Over the years, I was able to find my natural vibrato and bring it out more, while I was able to mimic other styles more with some faking. As long as it sounds good, I think there's nothing wrong with faking the funk a little.
While I was going through the process of faking it, I was able to pinpoint the singing moments where I actually had some pretty cool vibrato wobbles without trying. I found my natural vibrato the most when comparing it to my forcefully trying to add vibrato.
For example, I would sing Whitney's "And I Will Always Love You" first with some obviously fake mimicking, and then would go through it once more without trying to force it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can also find your vibrato by first going through a song with a 'straight tone', which means forcing your voice to never wobble, then try the same phrase again without that force, and see where your vibrato naturally takes you.
Your natural vibrato comes out the most when the muscles associated with your vocal cords are most relaxed and free, along with great breath support and a good general technique, so it's easiest to find when you're not forcing anything and know what you're doing.
The more you practice and learn your voice, the more your natural vibrato will come out.
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