Change in vibrato rate and extent during tertiary training in classical singing students

Helen F Mitchell, Dianna T Kenny
Journal of Voice 2010, 24 (4): 427-34

OBJECTIVES: Vibrato is an integral and desirable feature of the classical singing voice. For elite singing students, achieving and developing vibrato may constitute one of the essential elements of their vocal training, although it is not necessarily a focus of that training.

STUDY DESIGN: In this longitudinal study, we measured vibrato rate (VR) and vibrato extent (VE) and regularity (SD) of VR and VE in student singers over the course of four semesters of tertiary level voice training at a conservatorium of music to determine how these parameters changed during training.

METHOD: Fifteen singers completed four semesters (2 years) of training. Singers performed four sustained pitches across their vocal range. Peaks and troughs of vibrato were isolated from the fundamental frequency trace to calculate VR in hertz and VE in semitones.

RESULTS: Analysis using linear mixed models revealed significant increases in VE and decreases in VRSD over time. VR was within expected limits for classical singers in all semesters, and small VR reductions were not statistically significant between semesters over 2 years of training. VE showed significant increases between the start of year 1 and year 2. Periodicity of singers' VR (SD) improved over training, with significant decreases to VRSD over time. There was no significant change to VESD.

CONCLUSIONS: Future studies will ascertain whether further changes to VR and VE occur over longer training periods, or whether the major changes occur early in tertiary training.

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