Understanding Lip Trill, Lip Bubbles, and Lip Roll Exercises

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Practising the lip vocal exercises.

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Vocal folds, as well as the different muscles of the mouth, do sleep sometimes, but this sleep should not be taken in the literal sense of the word. Vocal folds are made of tissues that need to be warmed up to function well. Similarly, the lips and the different muscles and bones that make up the mouth are instrumental in creating great sound. Thus, these muscles and bones should be warmed up too. 

There are different exercises that could create balanced coordination between breath support and vocal folds, and one of these exercises is the lip roll, lip trill, or lip bubble exercises. But what is lip trill? In this article, we are going to discuss the lip trill to give you a clear understanding of how to engage in this exercise.

What Are Lip Trill, Lip Bubbles & Lip Roll?

Lip trill is the act of closing your lips altogether and allowing air to pass through them via quick and rapid puffs. This action then creates a typical “brrr” sound. The lip trill is also termed “lip roll or lip bubbles.” Vocalists and singers usually add notes to their lip roll as a proper warm-up within their vocal range. Lip trill, of course, is necessary if you are a singer. It can help your vocal folds and mouth build proper coordination while it also makes a healthy voice.

Lip trill is singing with semi-blocked or occluded vocal tract. This way of singing is also referred to as “SOVT.” When you perform lip trill, you are singing while partially blocking or making a hindrance in your vocal tract. In doing so, you alter the setup of the resonating cavities. And we all know that sound travels through these resonating cavities. Lip roll, therefore, changes the vocal folds’ vibratory pattern. This change causes back pressure that allows the vocal folds to vibrate easily.

The vocal cords’ thin edges also vibrate vigorously, and this vibration is helpful to the health and strength of the cords. This vibration is also very healthy for the vocal cords, especially if you are warming up your voice. Hence, lip roll or trill is considered as one of the best exercises for the vocal folds.

How Do You Best Achieve Vocal Trill?

To best perform the lip trill, you need to let even airflow through your lips. You can achieve this by relaxing your lips and vocal folds while controlling the air pressure. You should not force this air pressure. It must be very constant and should not be high.

To do it right, you should follow the abovementioned simple guidelines. You can easily learn the process, and it doesn’t require much practice. Once you do it right, your vocal folds readily thin out, and you would notice that register breaks seem to be non-existent. With lip trill, you can vocalize all the notes within your range, and surely, this is a great warm-up exercise. Here are the simple steps on how to do it right:

  • First, you need to blow air via your pursed lips gently.
  • Let out any sound on a given pitch.
  • Perform any scale, melody, or interval as you do the lip trill.
  • Lift your cheeks slightly using your fingers towards your lips.
  • Get the feel of the sound while your jaw is relaxed.
  • Imagine the “oo” vowel moving inside your mouth. This will relax your larynx.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Doing the Lip Trill Exercises

There are several factors and tips that you should bear in mind when doing the lip trill. Here are some of these factors:

1) Build up the Right Air Pressure

Lip trills should be performed correctly to gain the optimal benefits from such exercise. Many practitioners usually commit the common mistake of blowing too much air through their lips. This mistake, of course, creates harsh, breathy sound. This should not be the case. The correct way to do lip trill is to ensure that your vocal folds produce firm vibration. This vibration should translate to low sound within your speaking range. Afterward, you should gently raise the sound. Pull your lips slightly forward to form a pout or hold your cheeks with your hand.

The key is that it is not the airflow that you should focus on. You should focus instead on building up the right air pressure. It is actually not the airflow that creates vocal folds’ vibration, but it’s the air pressure. Hence, if you engage in lip trill, you should keep track of the air pressure and not the airflow. Moreover, you should ensure that no air is escaping when you do lip trill, or you should ensure that minimal air comes out when you do the lip trill. So, again, always be mindful of the air pressure that you create. 

2) Utilize your Lips When Doing Lip Trills

Some singers commit the mistake of doing the lip trill using their hand to create air pressure. This should not be the case, for it is not called “lip trill” if you are going to use your hand. The right way to do it is to use your lips and not your hands. You should have control over your cheeks, lips, teeth, and tongue if you want to become a great singer. Thus, in the lip trill, you should rely heavily on the articulators. It is, of course, better to start right because if you start wrongly, you may end up developing wrong habits when performing lip trill.

Start with the correct positioning of your lips. Make sure that you gain control of the articulators because this control will factor well in your becoming a great singer. Some practitioners of lip trills do experience issues when they perform lip trills — problems like lack of middle-range sound when doing lip trill. At the onset, this should be corrected for doing the lip trill right is undoubtedly indicative of your good future as a singer.

Benefits Concomitant with Lip Trill Exercises To Singers

Warm-up exercises for vocal cords are undoubtedly beneficial to the vocal cords. As mentioned earlier, the vocal cords are stiff and sleepy after a good night rest or after a hiatus from singing. They need to be warmed up, and lip trill exercises are some of the best ways to warm them up. Here are the advantages of concomitant with regular lip trill exercises:

1) First, It Warms Up the Vocal Cords and It’s Healthy for Your Voice.

The vocal folds, as well as the other articulators, need some warming up like what we usually do with the engine of the car. Warming up means you need to stretch out the tissues and muscles of your articulators and other organs responsible for voice creation. Lip trill does this well. It relaxes your lips so that you can better enunciate the lyrics of the song that you are singing. It also helps hone the muscles and tissues of your articulators so that they can be relaxed when you work on your musical range. 

Without a warm-up, your vocal folds will be immediately set to produce tones and notes that they are not yet ready to belt, putting a lot of stress on these tissues. But with a proper warm-up, they loosen up and relax and become prepared for the rigor of singing. 

It is, therefore, advisable to engage in lip trill before every singing session. It sets the tissues of the vocal folds right, relaxing them for the task of singing. There is always the concomitant risk of straining your vocal cords without a warm-up. So, to avoid this risk, you should engage in lip trill exercises.

2) Lip Trill Warms up your Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a significant part of the breathing system that helps in the regulation of breathing. Thus, it is also instrumental in producing better sound. Yet, the diaphragm needs to be regularly exercised to ensure that it is in topnotch condition. One exercise that could help condition the diaphragm is the lip trill. It enhances the functioning of the diaphragm by allowing you to control the contraction and contraction of the diaphragm. It likewise warms up the muscles of the diaphragm for the more rigorous breathing consistency when singing.

3) Let Loose of the Tension within the Vocal Cords

The vocal cords, after a hiatus from singing, usually becomes tense. Tension builds up in it if it is not vibrating. Well, this is but natural considering the law of inertia that says an object at rest tends to remain at rest. But once you start speaking, the pressure usually is released gradually. The best way, however, to gradually loosen up this pent-up tension is by doing a lip trill. 

Lip trill allows you to transfer air pressure from your vocal folds to that of the lips. With less pressure on the vocal cords, you can readily go on warming up your voice and belt notes within your vocal range easily.

4) Lip Trill Helps You Have Consistency in the Air Flow and Air Pressure

The good thing about doing a lip trill is that it enables you to connect your air support with that of your voice. To produce sound, you need to produce air pressure and flow continuously. Remember that you can’t produce lip trill without consistent airflow and support. Thus, once you engage in lip trill exercises, you are enabling your lungs to supply air pressure to create that necessary lip trill continuously.

How To Know If You Are Doing the Lip Trill Incorrectly

The voice box will surely struggle to create sounds when singing if your neck and shoulders are bedeviled by too much tension. Moreover, if you don’t have good breath management, chances are, you will never be able to sing well.

Hence, in such a case, you need to engage in lip trill to loosen up those pent-up tensions and regulate your breathing. Yet, many vocalists and singers fail to do the lip trill right. This is because they don’t know how to loosen up the tensions that have built up within their vocal cords. They also have not yet mastered the art of proper breathing. 

So, more often, when they do lip trill, they only push air beyond the larynx using high-pressure levels. They fail to manage; therefore, the muscular tension and are unable to regulate their breath. Thus, they produce air and lip sounds that are not really indicative of correct lip trill. Always remember that you will readily know that you are doing the lip trill right if you hear a distinguishable tone, especially, when your larynx is vibrating freely, enabling you to move from one vocal register to another with ease.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding Lip Trill, Lip Bubbles, and Lip Roll Exercises”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing! ????
    I’m a singer and vocal coach.
    I would like to know who is the inventor of lip roll, lip trill…?
    Someone says Seth Riggs…
    Someone says this is a centuries old practice.
    Which is your opinion?
    Many many thanks


  2. I’m a singer with a QUESTION here. I have known about lip trills for a while but this past year I discovered that I’m loving tongue trills because it targets my tongue and the subtle muscles around my throat for relaxation. Just this morning I believe I had a breakthrough where I sensed that the relaxation started way at the base of my tongue down in my throat and not just in the tip of my tongue. Anyway, you may be wondering about my actual question hahaha my bad I just got really excited. My question is: is there actually any difference in what lip trills offer compared to tongue trills compared to “blowing raspberries?” I am definitely sold on the tongue trill and don’t really see the point in “going back” to lip trills if the tongue trills cover all the bases. Looking forward to hearing your response to my question. THANK YOU also for your informative article! -Samantha


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