World Choir Games Flanders 2021

Lip trilling and bubbling – is it useful (and how to do it properly)?

  • [The views expressed in this blog are from my personal experiences from 25 years of leading non-auditioned community choirs in the UK, as well as adult singing workshops. My focus is on teaching by ear using a repertoire of songs from traditions across the globe. Your experiences may differ from mine, so do feel free to leave a comment and let's begin a conversation! A version of this article first appeared as a post on my blog From the Front of the Choir]

     

    I use lip trills (or lip bubbles) as part of my warm ups. Some singers find them hard to do. Others don’t see the point.

     

     

    I’m going to share some expert advice so you can do lip trills properly then make up your own mind about their use.

    Lip trills (or ‘bubbling’) seem to split people. They’re either seen as a magic bullet to learning how to sing or a complete waste of time.

    As with most things, the reality is probably somewhere in between.

    What are lip trills?

    It’s a bit like when a horse blows out. The air makes the loose lips vibrate and creates a ‘brrr’ sound. Or imagine impersonating a car. Or breathing out underwater and making bubbles.

    Why do lip trills?

    Lip trills are a fantastic tool for helping singers develop a consistent breath flow, taking vocal weight out of the voice, and developing a smooth legato line. It’s virtually impossible to do a lip trill properly without engaging all the necessary support.

    But they are just one of many useful techniques to help you sing better.

    Lip trills are not a panacea. In fact, some singing teachers think they’re evil! For example see Why I think lip trills are stupid.

    Another problem with lip trills is that it’s very easy to do them the wrong way. In which case they won’t be of much benefit, and can even do more harm than good.

    Here is an excellent video by Alexander Massey which demonstrates a safe and healthy way to do lip trills (he calls them lip rolls):

    How to sing - 6. Lip rolls and lip trills: dos and don'ts


    Once you’ve learnt how to do lip trills properly, you should read an excellent article by Liz Garnett which explains clearly the benefits of bubbling:

    Hubble bubble

    That should give you enough useful information to decide whether lip trills are a good thing or not.

    Let me know how you get on.

     

     

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    Chris Rowbury

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