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Practicing vibrato; Some tips that helped me
Topic Started: 29 Dec 2014, 01:28 PM (1,197 Views)
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Music Hunter
Just wanted to share my experience with learning vibrato which I have been working at for a few weeks. I am still far from perfect, but feel I have had huge improvement just over a few days. I have been using the "ha ha ha" method, to get the proper muscle movement going to create the vibrato, but it always felt/sounded forced and often threw me out of tune. Figuring out if the vibrato should come from the throat or diaphragm was also an issue for me.

The thing that helped me was using ear plugs while practicing. Doing this, canceling out most sound from the ocarina, I was able to actually hear the "movements" of the air and muscles inside my throat while attempting vibrato. This made me focus on how it feels because I could actually hear it, and helped me realize that my throat would normally be strained (non-relaxed) while playing. By relaxing and opening the throat, there was a big difference. This also helped making the vibrations of air more even and consistent, because the normally loud sound of the ocarina is not obscuring it as much.

Another problem I had was also that I felt out of breath after playing a song, especially while trying to use vibrato. What helped me here was breathing with the stomach. When you do this, your upper body and shoulders should not move, only your stomach should move in and out. This is like deep breath exercises and can actually help with a lot of things, not just ocarina playing. :)

So, for anyone having issues you could give this a try and see if it helps. Just plug in some ear plugs (make sure to clog up the ears completely), then do some deep stomach breaths and breathe into the ocarina - don't blow. Then do vibrato and listen to what happens in your throat.
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Robert Hickman
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Ocarina maker

Glad you're finding some progress with it, it took me a long time as well so you're not alone.

What worked for me was the 'triplets' technique described in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbXwD9LcD_s

Don't be afraid to practice *really* slowly, I think I started at metronome 40 or so and gradually speed it up over the course of several months. I had to practice this for almost a whole day to start getting it smooth at that slow speed, then working it up.

Also I first learned to do this on the transverse flute, and found getting a good vibrato on the ocarina very hard as they are far more sensitive to pressure changes. The breath variation you'd use on a flute sounds far too 'wide' when done on the oc. So starting on recorder/whistle/flute, even as a vibrato practice tool, may be easier.

Also start practicing on mid-range notes around the G (assuming alto C) as these notes are a lot less sensitive to breath pressure.
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