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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, November 12, 2012


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

Flute Vibrato
By Amanda Meyer

There are many conflicting ideas about when flute students should be introduced to vibrato.  I believe that there is no “perfect” time.  I think it depends on the level and dedication of each individual student.  For a flute player to be ready for vibrato they must first have an established tone.  If they are unable to make a great fundamental sound then they will not be successful at adding in the vibrato.  The second thing that must be established is a regular practice schedule.  If students only practice erratically then they will not be able to master the skills needed for an established vibrato.

Once you have a student that can play with a great tone and is willing to practice regularly, then they should be introduced to vibrato.  Many students are ready for this during 7th grade and most should be ready sometime in 8th grade.  A good goal is to have most of your flute students playing with vibrato by the time they reach High School.

To teach flute vibrato, have the student begin with a scale that they are very familiar with. This should be one they already have memorized.  Have the students play each note for four beats.  On each beat they should use their diaphragm to make a short burst of air by saying WHOO.  The note should not stop, but be sustained all the way through the four beats. For one week they should play the entire scale daily, only working on quarter notes.  When the week is up, have them play it for you.  If each beat is even and strong, they are ready to move on.  If not, then they should spend another week on quarter notes.

Once the quarter notes are mastered, they are ready to move on to eighth notes.   Have the student play the same scales still with four beats on each note, but this time have them play eighth notes. Most students take a week on each, but some will need additional time.  Once they have mastered sixteenth notes, then they will be ready to start shaping the vibrato.  The best way for students to understand shaping vibrato is listening to a professional player.  Make sure the students understand that vibrato must begin slower and must taper at the ends of phrases.

If done correctly, flute vibrato is a long process.  Many students end up playing with a forced, unnatural sounding vibrato because they try to rush through the steps.  While it takes a lot of effort, it is very important in both individual tone and overall band sound.  Vibrato helps flute tone sound much more mature, and when most of the section plays with vibrato it helps mask many issues with intonation.  

Amanda Meyer graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1997 and a Master of Science in Education in 2000. She has been teaching 6-12 grade band for 14 years. Amanda was the assistant Band Director in Cassville for three years, and the Assistant Band Director at Nevada High School for eleven years. She has also maintained a very successful private studio teaching flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, and saxophone lessons for the last 14 years. She is currently serving as a road representative for Palen Music Center and can be reached by email at

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Wayne Blades, Jason Moore, Mike Steffen, AAron Bryan (417) 882-7000
Columbia Chuck Appleton and Rob Goade (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp, John Bell, and Victoria Clymore (816) 792-8301
Joplin AAron Bryan (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Jeff Lawless and Mary Ann French (918) 286-1555


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