The Imposter.

This post is in two parts. In this first part, I’d like to show you a few examples of famous singers using a false kind of vibrato. I’ll also explain the “why” behind them.

To really understand vibrato, you have to know that vibrato is a good thing. Through the pitch undulation (vibrato), we are able to give our vocal chords moments to relax. If there was only a straight tone with no vibrato, this would wear the vocal chords quickly and they would tire out and the singer would then go flat much faster. This is why opera singers use it. Many times, they are having to sing loudly over an orchestra, so the way to do this most efficiently is to use vibrato. This is not to say that only opera singers use it.

That being said, the first examples comes from two “child prodigies.” Many child singers, because they do not always have much natural vibrato or don’t know how to use it, they are taught to use artificial vibrato.

Example #1–Jackie Evancho “Time to say Goodbye”

Does she have an amazing voice? Yes. There is no question about that. However, if you’ll notice, her jaw is moving up and down whenever she holds a note. When using this type of artificial vibrato, it comes from tension within the jaw. The lower jaw is connected with sympathetic muscles connected to the vocal chords and throat. This makes it a bit harder to control tone (as heard by her last high note at the end) and does not have as nice a sound overall.

Example #2–Charlotte Church “Ave Maria”

Another beautiful voice, but as you can see, there is much “false vibrato” being employed. During her early career, there was much debate amongst vocalists as to the constant wear on Church’s vocal chords due to the high and intense nature of her songs, and the amount of singing she did for her not yet fully matured voice. In this instance, although the vibrato was from a tense jaw, and in essence, her overall sound was not as pleasing, it was probably essential for her to continue to singing.

Example #3–Church’s Natural Vibrato (mostly) “Actors”

It seems like Church has made a mostly happy vibrato transition, but there are still some of those bad vibrato habits left over from before.

Example #4–Ruth Lorenzo “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”

There are many things to pick apart from this example, but let’s just look at the vibrato. It is rarely used, and when it is used, it is fast, false, and uncontrolled, coming from an already strained voice. This fast vibrato is her voice’s way of saying “STOP SINGING LIKE THAT!” The singer is trying to sound like Janice Joplin (I think) by singing loudly and in a very raspy tone. This is not a good idea. This type of singing is very damaging to vocal chords. (On a side note: Her problem mainly seems to lie in her lack of breath support and refusal to use her head voice. She is pushing her chest voice too high and thus straining her voice. If you don’t have the proper breath support, it’s hard to get the power you need and the ability to relax at the same time so that vibrato is even possible.)

Stay tuned for my some of my examples of “good vibrato” coming very soon!

A Free voice lesson for your enjoyment!

This is a well-done, precise video put together by a professional vocal coach. Enjoy!

For the last few years I’ve been trying to get my throat relaxed and lately Im doing my best, but when i come home tired from work or I´m somehow tense for any reason my singing is horrible. Could you tell me one of your tips for that?
And another thing is that when i´m singing, specially higher notes, i go off tune very often, and even though it´s only slightly it makes my singing worse and anoys me a lot. Could i have your advice on this matter? it would be very helpful. Thanks a lot!

In response to your question about relaxing while singing and tuning on higher notes, I’m hoping to make another video about that very subject. That seems to be one of the most common difficulties for singers. There are several reasons why you may be unable to relax while singing, and be unable to hit those high notes when you’re tired.
First, when you’re trying to relax while singing, make sure that the voice your using is in the correct place. What I mean by that is, you have 3 voices: Chest voice (that’s the lowest), middle voice (the most comfortable and easy to use), and head voice (the falsetto voice). Most people try to add power to their voices as they go up from their chest voice to their middle voice, or from middle to head by pushing the lower voice up farther than is comfortable. This creates a lot of tension within the throat and gives that powerful sort of sound, but at the same time tires your voice out quickly and many times is unable to hit the high notes in tune. If you are finding that the higher notes are flat, this could be the cause. Remember to keep your throat (voice) as comfortable as possible by switching from voice to voice whenever you need to.
Another possibility for not being able to hit the high notes on tune, is you might be working to hard at hitting them. As ironic as that sounds, many times, singers think that putting more intensity into the higher notes will help them hit them, but really, they’re just making it more difficult. An exercise that I do to help students reach those higher notes while staying relaxed is doing an owl “hoo” sound in their highest notes and descending. Don’t be afraid to use your falsetto voice to do this.
Here are a few more exercises to help you relax while singing. Just as a warning, some of these will seem pretty ridiculous, but have good results.
1. Put your arms above your head and breath deeply. This also automatically places your breath lower so that you have better support for your voice. Slowly lower your arms and continue to use that low breath while singing.
2. Hum the song before you sing it or sing the song on an “a” (as in cat) sound or an “ah” sound. If you find yourself getting tense during a certain section, go back and make sure that you’re switching to the most comfortable voice possible.
3. Sing while bending parallel to the floor. In some ways, this relaxes your throat. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s always worth a try.
4. Sing the tense part of the song on “ah” with your tongue hanging out of your mouth.

« Previous PageNext Page »