Lip Trill Exercise –
Are Your Lips Up To It?
The Lip Trill, or what some vocal instructors call the “Bubble”, is an extremely useful warmup exercise for all singers, be it to warmup before a performance, or to build a strong and healthy voice!
Imagine you are swimming, and your head is submerged under the surface of the water. Now, when you blow air out from your lips, there will be a ‘brbrbrbr’ sound, and your lips will vibrate naturally and easily.
Now try to repeat this motion out of the water, by letting your breath be released from your mouth, with your lips vibrating in a relaxed manner while you control the supply of air with your diaphragm muscles. (This is why vocal instructors also refer to the lip trill as ‘bubble’, because it is just like what we do when we are blowing bubbles underwater!)
One important point to note is that you should not be blowing air from your mouth by pursing your lips. Your lips should be relaxed and the air should be controlled with your diaphragm, with your lips vibrating freely as the air passes over your lips.
If you are unable to let your lips vibrate freely, place one finger from each hand on each side of your face (near where dimples would usually be), and gently push into your cheeks, then push your fingers outwards to support your lip muscles. This would relieve the lips of any tension that might be present, and allow them to vibrate more freely with your breath.
Check out this audio clip to hear what the ‘lip trill’ or ‘bubble’ should sound like:
Here is the bubble exercise demonstrated using a middle ‘E’ note:
You can also practise the ‘humming’ warmup exercise to first understand how to produce a good sound , and then reproduce that sound but this time do it while you are doing your lip trill exercise! Your lips should similarly be relaxed, just as they were when you were practising the ‘brbrbrbr’ sound without any pitch or note!
You can also practise this ‘bubble’ exercise with a variety of notes and pitches, as well as with some basic scales and intervals too.
What are the advantages of this exercise and how does it benefit us in our singing? Well, firstly, it helps to warmup and relax our lips, so that we are better able to practise our diction when singing, as well as to wrap certain words or sounds with the vowels that we sing.
Secondly, this exercise takes some pressure off our voice (our vocal cords), since some of the air pressure is placed on our lips for them to vibrate. This makes it easier and safer for us to do our warmups with our voice, since there is less pressure and tension on our vocal cords. Click here to understand more about our voice and our vocal cords!
Lastly, the ‘lip trill’ exercise also helps us to warmup our diaphragm and its surrounding muscles for better breath control and support , since we need to be able to provide a steady supply of air for our lips to vibrate during the exercise. Click here for some great breathing exercises to strengthen your breathing control , if you feel that you need more practice in this area in order to be able to do the lip trill exercise!
Once we are sufficiently warmed up and know how to develop a strong set of vocals, we can move on to singing songs for an appreciative audience!