One of the most frequent questions I field from band directors relates to teaching their students how to use vibrato. My belief is that vibrato is an expressive tool to be explored only after basic tone production is under control. It is not a fundamental characteristic of bassoon tone and should be used mindfully for musical purposes, not to mask undesirable tone or intonation.
Bassoon vibrato is based on a vibrating air column, essentially very small dynamic changes. This makes it most similar to vibrato in the flute family, where small variations in exhaled air volume cause pulsations in the sound. This is different from instruments that produce pitch-related vibrato using either jaw motion or finger oscillation, such as single reed, brass, and string instruments. Introducing vibrato at its extremes, as a series of exaggerated forte-piano breath attacks, releases tension from the process and guarantees the use of a high volume of air throughout.
This document is my introduction to vibrato from day one, guiding students to feel the motion in their abdominal muscles, be mindful of establishing and maintaining an open aural cavity, then establishing control and building velocity. These exercises can be done on the bassoon in a comfortable register, on the reed-bocal system, or on the reed alone
Compare the process of creating vibrato on bassoon to each of the following instruments;