The Flute Show - flute expert

How to play Vibrato on the Flute

An easy and practical approach to flute vibrato

In this video, Florence approaches vibrato on the flute, with a practical example taken from the flute repertoire: Debussy's famous Syrinx.

Released on June 4, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Robert Estrin: Hi, I'm Robert Estrin. Welcome to the flute show with Florence Estrin. Here on Today's show is how to produce vibrato on the flute. Vibrato, you've heard it on almost all instruments except the piano, which sadly can't do vibrato. But, it's the most natural thing for singers and other instrumentalists, wind instruments, and string instruments. They emulate that fluctuation and pitch. Well how is it possible to do that on the flute? Thanks for joining us Florence, maybe you can talk a little bit about this.

Florence Estrin: OK. The way you do it on the flute is by going ha-ha-ha- ha. Nothing funny about that, but it works. Now interestingly, what I want to talk about ... because that's pretty simple. When you practice it, you may start out not being able to go as quickly, and so you might want to take out a metronome and try to get to a point where you are doing like six ha's on a beat, and then slowly move it up so that you have control over your speed. And, the thing is because vibrato is just an adornment on your sound. Sometimes it feels like that because it makes it so pretty, but it also is a very expressive tool. So, what you do is, you vary the use of vibrato in service of the music. So, what I'd like to do is play the opening of Debussy's Syrinx, and show how a bit of variation in the vibrato can really help the expressiveness of this music.

Robert Estrin: Beautiful.

Florence Estrin: Thank you. So, what you notice is sometimes I actually even use absolutely no vibrato to give it effect. And then I can gradually grow it, or I can add it quickly on a new phrase, or I can start a note with no vibrato and add a little bit; that's a nice effect. But there's a myriad of ways of playing around with vibrato, and it also really helps to make your dynamics more extreme, adding a wider vibrato, bigger vibrato, faster vibrato. On a loud section makes it seem louder, and the converse is true when you narrow the vibrato down, and maybe even take it away, slow it down a little bit. It seems like you're getting even quieter.

Robert Estrin: Great, that's wonderful information and I'm sure this also translates to other instruments, except, sadly, the piano. That's why I'm so glad to have you here, sharing this with everyone. Thanks again for joining us Florence, and look for more flute shows here at Thanks again, I'm Robert Estran.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Angela Falco on January 15, 2016 @9:12 am PST
Thank you for this video. What is the name of the last piece of music you played to exit the video? Thank you
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on January 15, 2016 @3:39 pm PST
Angela, that's the Faure's Sicilienne Op. 78 for flute and piano:

It's such a lovely piece indeed, and Florence's performance of it is simply great.
Florence - host, on January 15, 2016 @5:42 pm PST
Sicilienne by Gabriel Faure
LAVERNA on June 27, 2014 @5:07 pm PST
Great information, I am still a little unsure of the meaning or the purpose of a vibrato. You make it seem so easy, you are an excellent flutist.
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