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So, I'm 14, going on 15. And by vibrato, I mean of the voice (vocal cords?). Anyway, a good description of it would be that it just came out of the blue. I was singing to myself one day, maybe a year ago, and it just happened. I noticed soon after developing vocal vibrato that I developed "humming" vibrato. That makes sense, I suppose.

My problem is, unless I really force it - and it doesn't feel "right" when I do - I can't not vibrate. In other words, I vibrate whether I want to or not. I recognize that it is (relatively) rare for someone to be born with unnoticed and undeveloped natural vibrato, let alone for someone who really doesn't sing that much at all. I'm in orchestra, not choir.

What I'd really like to do is to be able to control when I vibrate. I can stop just fine while I'm humming, but, again, if I'm singing I can't. Also, whether humming or singing, I cannot control the frequency of the vibrato - I'd really like to slow it down, because I clocked myself at 10-12 Hertz, and once at 16 Hz.

Just a note: this is not "artificial" vibrato. I've examined the sensations closely, and I can say for a fact that I am most definitely not moving my stomach or diaphragm to accomplish vibration, and I'm not moving my jaw either. It's a pure, natural, yet unconscious and uncontrollable vibration.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can learn to control your vibrato with study with a professional voice teacher. You need feedback from a professional who can analyze what you are doing and help you control it.

I'm 49 years old, and my voice seems to be much like yours. I've always had a lot of natural vibrato. I sang in choirs all my teen years.

I went to music school and got a bachelor's degree in music with voice as my principal instrument. When I arrived at music school I intended to study jazz and pop singing, but a jazz vocal professor at my school took me aside and said, "You can't sing jazz and pop and I can't teach you to sing jazz and pop. You have a natural operatic voice. You must study opera singing." So I got assigned to an operatic voice professor and did that for four years. My professor did have to teach me how to "rein in" and control my vibrato, which was too wild and uncontrolled for proper classical singing. It did not take very long, but it did require working with a professional teacher.

To this day, classical musicians tell me that I have a light vibrato when it comes to operatic singing, something that's better-suited to Baroque music or Mozart on the one hand or the contemporary English choral tradition on the other. At the same time, jazz, rock and pop musicians tell me that I have too much vibrato, and why can't I stop singing that way?

I can belt out a hard rock song, without vibrato, but only for a short while. It always hurts my voice and causes problems. I can sing operatically or classically all day long, but five minutes of trying to sing in the rock or jazz style can cause me to hurt my voice and have a sore throat for the rest of the day.

Well, it seems I'm an unusual case. I am in fact a very good singer; I've worked hard at it. I've just had to concentrate on the styles of music that are naturally suited to my voice, and that means various styles of classical music and light opera.

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Speaking as a layman (not professional) when it comes to singing, I've always been interested in sacred choral music since grade school back in the early 1960s. I've done a lot of research about singing on my own and, have been fortunate enough to sing in school and church choirs. And a little bit of professional vocal coaching along the way as a student. For what it's worth, vibrato has been something which was elusive to me until about the 1990s. However, I've worked long and hard for it to finally kick in as a natural element of my singing. Meaning, that vibrato can only come about AFTER everything to produce a free tone is correctly in place. By default, the human voice has vibrato already and it requires correct technique for it to manifest itself naturally. Once that occurs, I would be the last person to suggest that it be removed entirely. It can't be done without harmful effects to the vibrant voice. Good luck to you as you endeavor to sing in years to come.

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