Shaken Not Stirred Practical Ideas for Addressing Vibrato and Nonvibrato Singing in the Studio and the Choral Rehearsal

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Dr. John Nix addresses the pervasive issue of vibrato use in the vocal studio and choral settings. He begins by defining vibrato and comparing various kinds of functional and non-functional vibrato (healthy vibrato, wobble, bleat or flutter), including the characteristics of each. He also notes that airflow rates for tones with vibrato tend to about 10% greater than tones without vibrato. In Nix’s study of 350 singers, he found that the majority of those who received explicit instruction regarding using vibrato in singing, that instruction came from a voice teacher; in those who received explicit instruction in non-vibrato singing, the majority received it from a choir director. He addresses changing aesthetics with regard to vibrato, and cites several articles from past issues of the Journal of Singing. Nix offers several exercises for developing flexibility in producing vibrato and non-vibrato sounds. He also suggests revisiting the all-too-easily forgotten basic checklist needed for good singing: alignment, breath, vowels, and addressing any visible tension.

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