How do I play vibrato on ocarina?

Playing vibrato on the ocarina is accomplished by rhythmically varying your breath pressure. To learn how to play vibrato, it you can start by exhaling at different rates.

At first, try this without your ocarina:

  • With a large aperture between your lips to create a bit of resistance. take a deep inhalation from the diaphragm and exhale as rapidly as you can.
  • Secondly, do the same thing but exhale more slowly.
  • Practise both of these alternately until they become natural; you may find it helpful to put your hand on your belly.

To play vibrato, you just have to vary your breath pressure between these two, cycling from low pressure, to high, to low and so on.

Once you can do this without your ocarina, try adding vibrato while playing a long tone:

  • Put on a metronome at about 40 to 60 BPM.
  • Play vibrato pulses, placing the peak of your exhalation on the beat.

It should sound something like this:

You are starting out quite slowly here, but with practice varying your breath pressure will feel natural, and you will be able to speed it up.

Vibrato practice tips

Notes in the middle of the range are a great place to start practising your vibrato as they are relatively stable. Ocarinas are unusual in that the pitch of their high notes is much less sensitive to pressure changes than the low notes.

The pitch change should not be excessive; a fluctuation of 10 to 20 cents is fine. You can measure and visualise your vibrato using a pitch graph like Ocavis, provided on this website:

Focus on making your vibrato consistent, initially on a single note, and over the instrument's range as your skill improves. As noted, the low notes are more sensitive to pressure changes.

When the frequency of your vibrato is slower, you will want a larger change of pitch, reducing it as the rate of your vibrato increases.

You may also be interested in how to apply vibrato in your music, which is discussed in articulation and ornamentation applied.