The Realities and Misconceptions of Lip Trills/Lip Bubbles

Good morning everyone. What a beautiful day it is here in Northern New Jersey. I am unfortunately sidelined today with a nasty upper respiratory infection that I was hoping to keep at bay, or just not let happen at all. I generally succumb to this in either April or June every year, but I think all the wet weather we've had for the last several weeks, and exposure to other singers who have had it, broke down my immunities and attacked my lungs. Fortunately I do not have a gig with my band this weekend, so the timing was a way. Being sidelined from teaching or much else for that matter gives me time to write this post. Recently I was contacted by a singer in Atlanta, GA who had been watching my YouTube singing tutorials, and inquired about taking lessons with me via Skype. He shared a very sad story about his experience with no less than 4 different vocal coaches in the ATL area over a 4 year period. He said that "every coach I went to gave me endless versions of lip trills and not much else. After four years of studying with these coaches, I have no solid cord closure, no low notes, and no concept of how to bridge my registers." I felt terrible for this young singer because I believe he is not alone in his quest to find a coach that can help him develop his complete voice. One of the very reasons why I started putting singing tutorials on my youtube channel is because I was extremely frustrated from watching endless tutorials by coach after coach touting the latest and greatest new vocal exercise "the lip trill!" I felt badly for the many young or not so young singers out there who were desperately seeking some help with their voices, only to find that lip trills/lip bubbles are being marketed as the "one size fits all, all encompassing vocal exercise that will give you your complete voice with no breaks from top to bottom!" Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE lip trills. They are a wonderful semi-occluded vocal tract exercise that have many benefits. Lip trills are a fantastic tool for helping singers develop a consistent breath flow, take vocal weight out of the voice, and develop a smooth legato line just to name a few. They also put the voice in protection due to the fact that the vocal tract is partially closed in front. But they just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing the complete voice. The singer from Atlanta recently began lessons with me via Skype, and what most surprised me was how much information was missing from his training. Just as he said, he had no concept of an open throat, cord closure, breath support and his vowels were completely distorted. Basically we had to start at ground zero as if he had never had a voice lesson. And of course we completely avoided lip trills! Fortunately this young man is like a sponge and is ready to learn the concepts that he so desperately wanted. I believe most of us vocal coaches are teaching because we truly want to see our students become the best singers they can be. Even the coaches on YouTube who are still touting lip trills as the "greatest vocal exercise on the planet" are doing it because they want to see singers excel. There ARE some very good coaches on youtube. I admire the fact that these coaches are giving tons of free, vital information to singers around the world.That's my goal as well. Have a great day everyone! "Keep singing, and let your voice soar!"


Jeffrey Stanfill