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Innovation Begins with Empathy

June 28, 2016 -

In my previous blog, I suggested that to live and work with a mindset of innovation is a POETIC way to approach life. POETIC is

Hello everyone. I have a quick question. What are some ways that you ask your student-singers to sing with less vibrato without saying straight tone, senza vibrato or minimize vibrato? I am taking a vocal pedagogy class right now, and am doing a self study. Thanks :) ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

Steven Joyal, Tess Orozco and 6 others like this

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Dustin McKinneyWhen I took vocal ped at MSU, Dr. Owens used the vocabulary "attempt to relax and slow the vibrato." I use it to varying degrees of success in the choral setting.

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Barb LamontPlane it out, focus the tone, lock in (on a cadence)

2 days ago   ·  2
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Sean HaleyLooking for a more pure and vibrant tone.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Jay CarterWhat a can of worms! With young singers I find that in some voices they're singing too loudly. I have heard, with great success, some conductors to ask them to sing a less complex tone or one with less color.

2 days ago   ·  4

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JoAnn BarkerSing with breath support. Use their gut to sing not their throat.

2 days ago   ·  3
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Josh ArmentaI used to say "sing with spin, not vibrato." It strangely works.

2 days ago   ·  8

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Sean HaleyOn the other hand we also need to acknowledge the vibrato is an inherent characteristic. Of course what you ask your singers to do is completely dependent on their age, education, and capability. It may be less about what you ask and more about knowing who you're working with.

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Sam DugginsI just tell them to be sure their vibrato is not too wide. I have heard it referred to as "80-year-old soprano" vibrato where you might have as much as a half-step difference from the top to the bottom of the fluctuation, and I tell the kids to avoid that at all times.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Meg Hulley FrazierI use the phrases "simple tone" and "clear tone."

2 days ago   ·  1
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David SharlowJon... I use a line Anton Armstrong used in a workshop... He said, "Align the Vibratos", which of course goes back to the idea of blending and matching voices... I like this because to me this doesn't eliminate spin, but simply asks singers to listen and match. I use this a lot with my groups and it seems to work in helping to clean up sound.

2 days ago   ·  4
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Harmony Rose MurphyI say "take out the shimmer." It works pretty well most of the time, sometimes it causes problems with resonance, but I feel like that is easier to address than when you tell them to take out vibrato and they create all kinds of vocal tensions.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Ted JohnsonGet them to listen to Medieval and Renaissance music properly done with no vibrato. Harmoniaearlymusic.org

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Erin Keakealani Richardson SeverinThings like "narrower tone" work well for me to find the healthy balance of vibrato. Also, asking singers to listen and tune with their part can help them keep the vibrato consistent around the pitch. Also, sometimes it's fine to be direct and say "keep vibrato tasteful" or "not too vibrant". I think there's a big fat grey area between straight and full, and for most singers, it's all about finding the right balance for their personal voice.

2 days ago   ·  1
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John MartinI've always preferred referring to "spin" and asking for a more focused tone.

2 days ago   ·  3
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Ted JohnsonIn a real live choir rehearsal a soprano seriously asked the director "Do you want us sopranos to sing with less bravado here?" LOL

2 days ago   ·  5
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Brian ParrishI try not to be vague about it. I use the terms minimal or minimize vibrato. I feel that we must first establish that our number one virtue is healthy vocal control. My students seem to get it that different styles require different approaches to singing.

2 days ago   ·  4
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Thou N Susan YangSome of my students are visual learners so i just let them see it:

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Thou N Susan YangFirst one is with vibrato. This one is with no vibrato:

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Ben FilipponeEuphemisms like "pure", "clean", or "simple", or "steady" to describe tone are common and often helpful. Asking them to not "wobble around" is probably the best you can do. Overall, focusing on getting them to recognize the "ringing" effect when chords are really in tune is helpful in getting people to automatically lessen their vibrato pitch variation. I'd recommend doing lots of tuning exercises to heighten their sensitivity to pitch (I'd recommend that anyway, of course!), and in really focused moments when there is problematic vibrato, say, "careful not to wobble". And, of course, the better their overall vocal production and breath control in general, the less of this trouble you'll be likely to have. If you aren't intent upon completely avoiding using "the V word" altogether, then carefully talk about keeping the pitch variation limited and equally oscillating above and below the pitch, as others have mentioned. Just out of curiosity, what age students? If it's a high school situation and you don't have any voice teachers in town who will crucify you if it gets back to them, I wouldn't worry about telling them less vibrato. In a university setting in a music school with voice faculty who could take issue, that's obviously another story.

2 days ago   ·  2

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Thou N Susan YangTechnically, the "vibrato" is just too fast and with very little variance in tuning, which makes it a "straight tone". Surprisingly, once they see it, they fix it themselves (I listen for forced vibrato, etc, and let the tuner take care of the rate of vibrato). I equate straight tone to a snare roll - it happens very quick, is energized, not forced, and does not vary in pitch, but has all the qualities of a free voice.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Allison WagstaffMy college director would ask for "just a little shimmer" instead of saying "straight tone" or "no vibrato".

2 days ago   ·  2

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Melissa A ShallbergI ask them to Simplify their tone. With voices still changing, some will have natural vibrato & some won't. If I use the word vibrato, my unchanged voices could muck up their production trying to manufacture vibrato. Works with mature singers too!

2 days ago   ·  4
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Kate Campbell Deglans"Streamline the tone"

2 days ago   ·  2
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Jillie RichelleClear, clean, white sound.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Amy Wolff BeresikSing in the center of the pitch...visualize a dart / bullseye and model the desired sound

2 days ago   ·  2

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