Michael, I found you via David Jones. He has recommended that I contact you to pursue some vocal training. I have sung in various choirs over many years and love to sing. However, I’ve been disappointed in that I’m not able to sing with vibrato consistently..it seems to occur “at will” and not on command. David’s web site explains that this can be developed. I am hoping that you can help.
You mention the issue of inconsistent vibrato. This gives us a good place to start. The first thing is to understand that vibrato is not something we control or create. And we don’t really develop it either. It gets developed as a by-product of improving the conditions of our instrument.
I look at vibrato as a “symptom” of our vocal function. A healthy, regular vibrato is a sign of healthy, balanced function. If there is irregularity or absence of vibrato, then that is a symptom of imbalance in the function. It is like when we are sick and go to the doctor. They listen to what our symptoms are that make us think we’re sick. Then a good doctor investigates to find out what the underlying condition is that is causing the symptoms. A poor doctor just gives a prescription that treats the symptoms, but doesn’t address the real cause. This really just masks the symptoms but doesn’t improve the condition.
Vibrato can be treated the same way. If the vibrato is irregular or non-existent, we can try to improve it. Which is just addressing the symptom and pretty much just adds new problems of imbalance on top of the old ones. Or we can take that symptom and address the over-all condition of the instrument and investigate where there is a lack of coordination and balance that is causing the vibrato problem.
One is short-sighted and never really solves the problem. The other is a realistic approach that will gradually and eventually allow the instrument to find its natural condition. This will always be the best result and provide a long-term solution.
So that is what I mean by “we don’t really develop it”. We don’t want to try and influence it directly, because the vibrato is not where the problem is. The problem is in the functional balance. If we remedy that, then we indirectly have also developed a better vibrato.
I get a similar question from young singers who lack a vibrato. The same principles apply. If they were to try to develop a vibrato without addressing the overall condition they likely would create new problems that would hold back their overall development.
I hope this makes sense and gives you an idea of what needs to be worked on. I would have to hear you to start assessing the current condition of your function and how it needs to be improved. As the condition improves the vibrato will change for the better. But we never want to try and change the vibrato directly. It is always a by-product of the overall healthy and balance.