Home GENERAL SINGING - Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy Forum

Lip Trills

Hey guys

Just started on the Volume 1 DVD and am having trouble disengaging and coming from a neutral position in even the lip trills...was wondering if anyone else started with similar issues and if they had any particular suggestions. I feel myself tensing in even the most mundane of the exercises but am not quite sure how to remove the tension. I believe I am using correct posture, am breathing in to the lower third and fourth abdominal muscles, but am having a difficult time keeping the throat feeling open, even when I am having the tongue laying flat. Any thoughts/comments are appreciated. Thanks!

Sam Haiman


  • Place your hand infront of you face and sing *away* from it. Really dig into it and be delibrate with what you are doing. When you do that and you have open throat the larynx should remain stable. It should feel like you are inhaling air or yawning. Remember that feeling.
  • I just wanted to add that what I commented is just a trick for how it feels. You shouldn't rely on what I said, keep training as you are doing. It's better to work on the voice more than using tricks. It just shows you how it feels.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346

    It's common for new students to have a little extra tension, just from the fact that there are so many new things coming at you at once. It can be a little overwhelming, because you aren't used to keeping track of all of those things while you sing.

    It gets easier with time and practice.

    The more you focus on a little downward push with your diaphragm as you do your belly breath, the less tension you will have to put on your neck and throat. Still, it takes time and more familiarity.

    Hang in there, and keep doing your exercises. Tell yourself that you can do it. It will get easier as you continue.

    All the Best!

  • twelvedesigntwelvedesign Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 239
    @sbhaxman, I had troubles with tension on lip trills for quite a while. My jaw and neck were so tense by the end of the "warm up", that I had to take a 10-15 minute break before continuing with the exercises. My problem was that I was pushing too hard, way too hard.

    Do exactly what Ken says, do exercises as lightly as you can, especially lip trills and tongue exercise. He says, just enough volume to phonate (that is to produce audible sound). Also stop immediately if you feel any tension creeping in. Give your muscles some time to relax. Perhaps even massage them gently.

    Do take your time. It seems like the tendency in the beginning of the training is to muscle up and rush for quick results. The truth of the matter is, it doesn't help. All you get is set backs, not results. With that in mind, find your boundaries, and stay within them, only reaching out gently. Do you exercises consistently, and exactly like Ken demonstrates and directs you, and you will be surprised by how quickly your voice can grow when you allow it to.
  • sbhaxmansbhaxman Member Posts: 2
    @twelvedesign yes I was more sore after the exercises than before as well, likely because of all the added tension I was providing.
    @highmtn when talking about downward push for the inhalation, I'm a bit confused regarding what is supposed to be done. We take a breath into the lower 3rd and 4th abdominal muscles, then supposed to completely relax, then sing, then add pressure as needed?
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    edited October 2016

    Imagine two separate actions taking place.

    1. Belly breath. Pushes outward to inhale, slowly retracts inward as you sing your phrase or scale.
    2. Pushing down on the diaphragm. This is a downward push on our guts, our insides, which takes our diaphragm along for the ride, which helps our singing. This is independent of the belly breath and happens according to how low or how high we are singing. Some low notes require a certain amount of down-push to keep the breath steady and prevent wobbling. As we go higher, we press down a little differently, with a gradual increase in downward force as the notes go up in pitch. The higher we go, the more we need to increase this downward counter-force, which helps to regulate the air pressure to more exacting amounts.

    So, Yes. The downward push of the piston is on an "as-needed" basis.
    The belly breath goes on, oblivious to what we are doing with the belly breath, although within the voice, there is great interaction from the combination of these two processes.

    Oh, yes, and back to lip trills... Really try to relax the face. Let the lips and cheeks almost hang there. Let a small stream of air "bubble" through the center of the lips, rather than trying to let a wide, horizontal stream of air burble across the full width of the lips. It's easier that way. When you start going higher, start pressing down more with the diaphram, while letting the throat, face, lips, neck, and shoulders be as relaxed as possible.

    It's easy, once you get the hang of it.
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