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The lip roll

Hi you guys!
I'm fairly new at the KTVA, and struggling with the lip roll. I can make it work for one or two notes and then the lips won't do the roll'y thing anymore, my lips just tenses up. I recon that is a common problem, but what do I do about it? Do I just keep going and sing the scale without the lip roll, hoping that one day I will get it or what? Any tips on how to make it work for me??


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,333


    It took me forever to get the hang of the lip roll.  I've done many other courses before doing KTVA and had troubles with them before, as well.  Ken tells us not to cheat and put our hands on our face to make it possible to burble.

    In the other courses I had taken, in addition to the lip rolls, there were also tongue rolls.  My first several months with KTVA I just did tongue rolls instead.  Yes, I was a cheater.  But no more.

    Finally, I decided to do what Ken said, and just keep trying until I GOT it.  It's really a matter of relaxation.  That's one reason they are so good for you... You HAVE TO relax your facial muscles to do them right.

    One of our students suggested using lip balm so you don't have to keep licking your lips.  I tried it, but that didn't work for me.  Your mileage may vary.  You DO have to keep your lips moistened, with plenty of water.  I now lick my lips periodically during burbles.

    Recently I have come to the realization that I can get higher with my lip trills by burbling only the center portion of my lips...  just a small area, like a mouthpiece on a trumpet.  I can sing much higher than I can trill my lips, because the air has to be much smaller up high, and slightly higher pressure.  Wide lips won't let me do that, but a small aperture of bubbling lips will let me get up considerably higher.  Then I get to a point where the air stream is too small to move the lips.  I can just open my mouth and sing several notes higher than I can trill.

    So stick with it.  Try to relax the lips, the cheeks, the tongue, EVERYTHING.  SUPPORT!!!  Feel your support increase as you go higher. 

    The burbles are important for learning relaxation in the face and learning relaxation when bridging the passagio.  They are GREAT for warmups.  They are great for testing your voice after an illness.

    Try supporting, using different amounts of air pressure (remember these are supposed to be done at the lowest possible volume), relaxing the lips, changing the amount of surface area of the lips that actually burble, etc...

    You can do it, and probably in less time than it took me.  Go easy on yourself and keep trying.  If you can't get them, don't worry, just keep going back and trying periodically.  You will get it eventually.



  • rcrosierrcrosier Pro Posts: 275
    @ninak:  I, too, struggled with Lip rolls TERRIBLY, and DID cheat using my fingers, as suggested elsewhere, but when I came here I decided to bite the bullet.  I struggled for a few weeks, and still "trip" once in a while, but can now do both sets of the first two tracks of lip rolls without much problem!

    As Bob said, relax, relax, relax!  What I've found helps me "get started" is to do a couple short "bursts" of them like it sounds like Ken is doing in the beggining of the audio track.  Also, make SURE you have a good healthy breath (not too much though) before each note.  I would constantly run out of air, too!

    Hope this helps you a little... at least to know that others here struggled and were able to conquer!


  • ninakninak Pro Posts: 7
    Hi Bob and Ray!
    Thank you for all your great advice and for sharing your stories! Yes, this helps tremendously! Both to know that I'm not alone in struggling with this, and knowing how to get through to 'the other side'...-And, most importantly, that it IS possible... ;-) :-)

  • johnjohn johnjohn Pro Posts: 99
    @ ninak: Rather like Bob, I was absolutely hopeless when it came to doing the liprolls without cheating - unaided with fingers on cheeks.  So, for years and years, I simply avoided them like the plague.  When I got with this program a little over 18 months back, I vowed to follow Ken's instructions, and really give it my best shot, although I was certain I was doomed to failure.
    Long story short, after a lot of attempts and finally licking my lips and using the requisite support, 
    I slowly but surely mastered them.  Now I have to stop myself from inadvertantly doing them whilst I'm in the grocery store!  The point is, I really was hopeless, so if I can get a handle on them, I'm sure that with perseverance, you will too.  :-)

    Do keep us posted on your progress.

    Wishing you the very best of luck.

  • ninakninak Pro Posts: 7
    Thank you John!
    Feeling a little better about my new found enemy the lip roll right now. I'll keep you posted.. :-)

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,333


    10-4 on the grocery store!  Ha, ha!  I catch myself doing liprolls ALL THE TIME now!   I'll look around to see who's wondering what's wrong with me! : ^ )


  • ninakninak Pro Posts: 7
    Lol! That's so funny! But what great practice. I realize you must be a pro by now... ;-)
    I've had that experience with just singing, because I sing all the time without being aware of it. And sometimes people will point it out. I worked at a day care centre before, with children ages 0-3, they are NOT discreet, so one of my first days working there all of a sudden all the children where staring at me, huge eyes and mouth wide open, and it turned out I was singing and they weren't use to adults randomly sining all around.... :-P
  • johnjohn johnjohn Pro Posts: 99
    @ Bob: Hahahahahaha!  I guess it's a good thing we don't live in the same town and visit the same grocery stores, since with the both of us absent-mindedly burbling whilst checking for ripe avocados and such, we'd probably be whisked off to the funny farm!  I can just picture the scene, the store security guys' spot the two of us, then communicate with each other over their walkie talkies, the conversation might go something like this: 'Nope, doesn't appear like either one them are wearing earpieces, so they're not talkin' on their respective cellphones, accordingly, I think we'd better intervene, they've clearly escaped from an asylum!'

    @ ninak: The thing is, the irony is most definitely not lost on me.  I mean I was so hopeless at trying to do them for so long, that when it dawns on me that I'm now doing them out in public, pretty much without thinking about it, I realize just how much mind over matter factors into the equation.  So, do keep on them, and soon you will be joining forces with me and Bob, and getting thrown out of grocery stores everywhere you go!  LOL!

    On that note...

  • ninakninak Pro Posts: 7
    i'm looking forward to it, John! ;-) :-)
  • johnjohn johnjohn Pro Posts: 99
    @ ninak: ;-)  You'll be joining me and Bob before you know it!  Haha!
  • AndyPAndyP Pro Posts: 5

    Could I maybe clarify a point made in the lip rolling vid? Ken mentions that barris should continue into head voice if they're able to so without the 'speed bump' yodel. At the moment I feel unable to do this so should I start to descend the scale again from that point or carry on up? 

    Thanks for your help
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,333
    edited November 2014


    You actually should try to bridge into head voice and reduce the volume a bit so that you CAN go into head voice without the yodel.

    The secret to smoothing out the speed bump can be found by getting quieter and quieter, almost ridiculously quiet, with very low velocity air.  See if you can find that sweet spot where you can shift from low to high without popping the clutch.   Once you find that, and learn the feeling, you can very slowly and very, very gradually increase some volume and eventually get to where you can bridge smoothly through from chest to head and then back again, without the bump.

    Lip Rolls are THE Easiest exercise to learn to bridge on, so it's best to work on eliminating the speed bump with lip rolls.  You can get good on lip rolls and still have a little trouble on the tongue exercise, and so forth with regular vowels.  Eventually you learn the skill, and transfer what you learn on one exercise to the other exercises.

    You will learn it, regardless of whether you're a baritone or not.

    Baritones, tenors, altos, and sopranos ALL have to learn to bridge.  It's just at different notes where that happens.

    As Ken said, If you're having troubles with it now, you can skip ahead, you can just join in in head voice a few notes later, or you can work on bridging now.  Sooner or later you will need to learn to sing through your bridge.

    All the Best!



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