What is vibrato?

Vibrato is a technique that flute players use to add musical color to their playing. In other words, it makes the flute sound "pretty." Vibrato is probably the most commonly used technique as it can be easy to do, but not easy to master. It is very easy to hear the difference between an amateur and a player who has mastered the vibrato technique.

Artificial Vibrato

I tend to use this term for vibrato that is very pulsy and sounds very amateur. Usually one would develope an artificial vibrato if the player is tought by someone who learned to do it this way. Artificial vibrato may make your playing have color, but the color quickly fades if you are playing a long piece, for instance.

It is very easy to tell when someone is using an artificial vibrato, as it has strong pulses that usually are on some type of rhythm. This rhythm is most commonly played as triplets. For example, if someone was playing a whole note, they would use their airstream to make triplets in the sound without rearticulating.

Another way to tell if someone has an artificial vibrato is if they are using their diaphram. Often times this will add to a "fake" sounding vibrato and can even end up making the flute player sick if done in a very incorrect way.

Natural Vibrato

This is the kind of vibrato that everyone strives to have. Players who have mastered vibrato have this kind of sound. It doesn't sound pulsey, and can change in tempo from note to note. This maintains its musical color throughout an entire piece and can be a very distinctive factor in someone's playing.

Achieving this isn't easy though. Many players with this kind of vibrato have been playing for years. The best tip I can give you though, is to not force it. If you really feel the music, then you shouldn't have any problem getting the natural vibrato and the proper musical color.