Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, Part 16. Practicing and Developing Vibrato. Presenting research by Prof. Jan Eberle. By Terry B. Ewell, Bassoon Digital Professor. BDP #227. With Elaine Ross, piano.

<music: “Mozart Mashup” with Terry Ewell and Elaine Ross.> 
1. Welcome, this is Terry Ewell. In the last two videos on vibrato, I provide an overview of the history of vibrato and then what mechanisms—or which parts of the body—are best employed to produce vibrato. In this video, I will be presenting ways to practice vibrato.

2. Prof. Jan Eberle, in her article and presentations, first helps students identify which vibrato mechanism or mechanisms work best for each individual.

•    Jan Eberle, “Vibrato: No Longer a Mystery!” The Double Reed 29/3 (2006): 128-130.


3. Let’s review the five throat area vibratos advocated by Prof. Eberle and identify the one or two that work best for you.

4. The “Whistle” vibrato is made with muscles under the chin. It is made in the upper throat in the lower tongue region.

5. The “Sister” vibrato is made in the upper throat in the lower tongue region. Varying the “sis” sound is produces this vibrato. Feel for movement at the “tonsil area.”

6. The “Laugh” vibrato can be simulated with “ha, ha, ha” sounds. It located further down in the throat.

7. The “Cough” vibrato is produced with coughing sounds. It located yet lower in the throat.

8. The “Vocal” vibrato is produced in a manner done by most singers. Prof. Eberle notes that this is the most common vibrato. This vibrato is created by fluctuations in the vocal folds.

9. Pick one of these types of vibrato to practice for one week without the instrument. Learn to identify the muscles and sensations associated with that vibrato.

10. In the second week, I suggest you practice this vibrato on the bassoon, but first on a note that blows freely, one without a lot of air pressure. G3, the G above open F is a good pitch to start on. Practice gaining control over the vibrato. Play a note and turn on and off the vibrato.

11. Once you are comfortable on G3, expand your range by moving up and down the instrument scale. You will discover that the challenges for vibrato will vary depending on the tessitura, that is the pitch range of the instrument.

12. The upper notes on the bassoon are more resistant, and you may feel more air pressure and perhaps greater difficulty producing the vibrato.

13. Developing a flexible vibrato will be your next step in your vibrato practice. Try varying the speed of the vibrato. Prof. Eberle does not recommend practicing vibrato pulses with a metronome, however, I have found this helpful for me and my students. Set the metronome to a tempo of 60. Then provide vibrato pulses to the beat, first 1, then 2, 3, 4 etc.

14. Here is a vibrato drive to practice. You will notice that it starts with fewer pulses per beat, increases pulses per beat, and then ends with fewer pulses per beat.

•    1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2, 1-1

15. When you have mastered going up to four pulses a beat, try five and perhaps even six. Six is the fastest vibrato that I can produce.

16. You might find that you feel the slower pulses more in your abdomen than in the throat area. When I practice this exercise, I feel the faster pulses rise up the air column to my throat area. There is the sensation of an upward progression as the pulses increase in speed. I suspect, however, that I am using the same mechanisms for all of the pulses, However, the slower pulses are felt more in my abdomen. This might be analogous to the slow pulses that a shoe causes on a hose. The pressure can be sensed closer to the source of water pressure.

17. First practice the vibrato drive without any change in dynamics. Then practice it with dynamics. The easiest vibrato drive coincides with the dynamics, increasing the volume as the number of pulses increase.

18. However, complete mastery of vibrato should include using vibrato and dynamics in opposition. Here the vibrato decreases in the frequency of pulses while the dynamics increase in volume.

19. For additional information on the vibrato drives, please see these items:

•    "A Bassoonist's Expansions upon Marcel Tabuteau's 'Drive,'" The Journal of the International Double Reed Society 20 (July 1992): 27-30.

•    Music in Motion, BDP#100

20. Well, I hope that this video has been helpful to either get you started on vibrato or to further refine your understanding of how to practice it. In the next video, we will examine the Mozart Bassoon Concerto and discuss how vibrato might be applied to it.

<music: “Mozart Mashup” with Terry Ewell and Elaine Ross.>