The magic of lip trills

Lip trills were introduced as part of a daily vocal warm-up in a previous blog post. That’s the “bbrrrrrrrrr” sound made by fluttering your lips during sustained voicing, like a voiced horse sound or a running-motor sound. This exercise is sometimes referred to as “raspberries” or “lip buzzes.”  This blog post addresses lip trills further, bringing in target pitch and pitch movement.

So what do lip trills actually do? They help to coordinate breathing and voicing for healthy sound production. This is done by producing back pressure at the lips so that more breath support is required from the diaphragm, the vocal energy is more focused in the mask of the face, and any pressure at the neck is reduced. They also help to loosen your lips.

How are they done?  Place your lips loosely together and release air in a steady stream – “bbrrrrrrrr.” Be sure your voice is on. Do them 10x at a comfortable pitch (transfeminine G3 or 196 Hz, transmasculine D3 146 Hz). Then do 10 more, gliding gently up and down within speaking range. Don’t push. If you have trouble, trying pushing your cheeks in slightly with your fingers, to loosen the upper lip so it can move more freely. A mirror can also help you see what you are doing.

When to do them?  Every morning as a warm-up, before making a phone call, before/after talking for a long period of time, when you want to check your pitch, or when your voice feels stuck or uncomfortable.