The performances of BambinO are off to a flying start. So far we have introduced opera and birdsong to babies in East Kilbride, Perth and Inverness. Following my “Behind the Scenes” video, I had a request from my blog friend, Pascal Barnier, to share with you my vocal warm-up routine that I complete before a performance. I will break down some of my go-to exercises and explain why I do them, and offer some instructions in case you would like to try them out. This blog post will focus on Lip Trills.
NB The video doesn’t give an accurate representation of how quickly my lips move together. I think it may be because the action is quite rapid.
What is this exercise?
The action of blowing air through your lips so they open and close rapidly. It can be performed voiceless or with pitch.
When do I do this warm-up?
At the beginning of my warm-up routine. It is usually is the first vocal exercise, I do after I have completed a breathing exercise and physical stretch.
Why do I do this warm-up?
I like to do this warm-up as it releases tension in the lips and it prevents vocal fold tension and strain when voicing. It is also a great tool for improving breath support and breath control as it guides you to producing a steady flow of air. It can be challenging to sustain a lip trill with too much or too little air. For me, it feels very relaxing and it is a reliable exercise for warming-up my entire vocal range.
How to do this warm-up.
- Begin in a comfortable seated position with your feet on the ground.
- Breathe out your air, to allow your body to take a natural and relaxed in-breath.
- Breathe out and allow the air to vibrate your lips together, as if you are blowing bubbles underwater.
The aim is to produce a gentle “voiceless” trill. Once you are confident with keeping a steady stream of air in this position try extending how long you can hold the voiceless lip trill for. Then I would encourage you to producing a pitch during the lip trill. If this is possible explore whether you can change pitch on a lip trill. You can do this by sliding from one pitch to another exploring both high and low pitches. I use this exercise to warm up my entire vocal range without straining my voice. I slide in major 9th intervals, ascending and descending, throughout my vocal range. It usually takes me around 3 minutes and I like to think it is like a great massage for my vocal folds.
If you are unable to sustain a voiceless lip trill, observe yourself completing the exercise in the mirror.
- Look at the position of your lips, and observe how they feel. Are they firmly pressed together, creating too much tension for the air to escape? Or are they too open, not allowing the lips to come together.
- Observe your body in relation to air flow. What does it feel like if you try to lip trill, whilst trying to blow out your air with a big burst at the beginning – are you able to sustain the lip trill afterwards? Next explore what happens to your lip trill if you don’t supply enough air. Explore a middle ground between these points to find a steady and consistent flow of air.
If you are still struggling to master the lip trill, perhaps you would like to explore this exercise with me in a singing lesson? I offer online lessons from my home music studio and I would love to help you explore the benefits of this warm-up exercise.