How To Do Vibrato

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How To Do Vibrato

Post by AmazingGrace33 » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:46 pm

I have a good friend who plays flute well and started to teach me how to do vibrato. Lately, there hasn't been enough time to work together so I'm stuck. :(
I can get some sound that gives off a wavering tone but it doesn't sound professional. How should I continue? A band assisstant told me I should use my stomach muscles but now I am even more confused. :? What do you, or how did you learn, do to create vibrato? Help! :)

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Post by flutepower » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:38 am

Hey AG33,

I have been playing the flute for only the past four to five months
now, and have just learned to vibrate. the only way I can do it
is to actually pretend to sing a high note in a song. When you
begin the high note, put some extra force on your throat muscles,
or try to quaver your throat. It's hard to explain, but watch a youtube
video on some one singing, probably connie talbit, (a 6 year old singer),
and pretend to sing with them. When you feel the vibrato in your throat,
try to play your flute. This does work - no matter how silly it

Hoped this helped :oops:

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Post by Zevang » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:46 am

Besides many people do it that way, using your throat to make vibrato isn't good simply because the air stream is squeezed making you lose color and even intonation.
The vibrato works at the upper portion of the abdominal muscles (those just behind the diaphragm).
The movement you notice in your throat is just a consequence of the variation in the pressure of the air stream. It is not the active element of producing vibrato.
The best way to achieve vibrato is to let it happen naturally. Though, there are exercises to get the concept of vibrato running, two types basically.
You may practice exercises to learn about the frequency of the vibrato and also others to get the amplitude.
Basically choose an easy note (like medium G) and make long tones trying to make a consistent vibrato, though not exagerated, making your abdominal muscles work. Everything else must be completely relaxed, mostly your throat. Now you have two ways, one you may vary the frequency (velocity) of your vibrato, maintaining the amplitude. The other, you may maintain the same velocity (frequency of the movements) and try to make wider and wider movements.
From the other side, you may begin the exercise with a high frequency (highest velocity) and go down, or the other, begin with the biggest amplitude and go down to almost without vibrato.
I don't know if my poor english made it clear to you, but anyway, just ask and we may discuss it a little more ;-)

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Post by flutepower » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:23 pm

Yes, you are correct in doing it naturally. I vibrate naturally,
and I can't really explain it. I think the throat vibrate is a good way
to begin though

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Post by fluttiegurl » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:01 pm

The biggest problem with starting this way is that it takes a lot more effort to correct it later on (if you decide to take your playing beyond a hobby). Keep in mind that you do need to be able to control your vibrato. That comes with practice and experience.

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Post by AmazingGrace33 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:02 pm

Thank-you for the replies!

One more question-

Hopefully this doesn't sound stupid, but I'm not really sure how to use my abdominal muscles correctly. :oops: Should I keep my stomach muscles tight, almost as if you are holding your breath? How should I use them to make quality vibrato? Does this make sense? I'm not positive on how to "use my body" successfully.

I'm probably just thinking too hard! :D

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Post by fluteguy18 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:17 pm

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Post by wkzh » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:08 am

Hahahaha stomach muscles! Ahhh one of my long long long ago flute teachers (an excellent guy, I must say) said that he was very very confused for a really really really long time because someone told him to use his "stomach muscles." There ARE no such thing as 'stomach muscles', as far as muscles you can control are concerned. (There are muscles actually, but that's for churning food, not vibrato.)

He teaches by giving examples. For example, demonstrating the use of abdominal muscles, he'd tell us to pretend were bracing for a punch.

You'd want to keep your tummy pushed out so you can relax your body while keeping breath support intact. By tight do you mean tight and squeezed in or tight and pushed out? They're different and both possible, you know.

When you want to do vibrato, you vary air pressure. How so? Well, you could use your throat, but that's too abrupt and may sound utterly unnatural. You could use your lip, but that doesn't quite make sense, does it? (Try it, you'll see.) You could compress and decompress your chest, but later on you'll realise that that's simply called "hyperventilating." You could use your tongue, but you'll later realise that that's futile. Reed instruments vary the reed pressure, but your "reed"'s made of air so well, you're in effect needing to vary air pressure.

So we're left with one more muscle: the abs. The question is, which where why when whoever said that? Everybody says that, though you don't have to follow it, but it's our honest opinion. Try bracing for a punch in you lower abdomen... feel it? Not imagine someone's trying to bash you in the middle... feel it? Yes, it's actually possible to control it.

Now breath in, then breath out while adding "accents" by flexing the abs. That's essentially how air pressure is varied. But that'd sound mighty weird as a vibrato. Practice "accenting" at really fast rates to train your vibrato. If you crash enough, you'll know that doing so will make your abs cramp up. So no, that's not a viable option in practice.

I suggest you just try and play it naturally. You should not notice any part of your body to be moving when you play vibrato. The part that moves is actually your upper abs, just as Zevang has said. (Actually I didn't read his reply, now I realise that I'm just repeating him. Oh well.) HOWEVER however however, it moves only a wee bit. Yes, moving only a wee bit's all you need to produce a beautiful, powerful vibrato. Can you feel it? NO! perhaps a little bit. So it's really difficult to tell whether you're using the right muscles.

In short... practice vibrato exercises to condition your abs, practice music with vibrato to condition your expression, and so long as you get a nice vibrato without killing yourself, you're probably on the right track.

Oh wait... there IS no such thing as a right track! Only the most effective and most efficient one. And that's precisely the one which we all are trying to tell you.

Have fun!
The flute family: probing the lower limit of human hearing and the upper limit of human tolerance.

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