Singers Corner – Pro Tip; Bubble Lips

Bubble lips or The Trill, is a trick used by many, many pro singers. This simple but effective exercise will help you gain mastery over 2 very important aspects of your voice. Before I explain further, take a look at this video demonstration.

Most of us has witnessed little kids doing this, so it’s easy to NOT take this Bubble Lips Tip seriously.
BUT in order to EVEN do it, 2 important vocal skills have to be in play…

#1 – Steady Stream of Air

Coming from deep in your lungs, you want to expand your diaphram and then send a very steady stream of air through your lips.

By working with this trill, you can develop the discipline to control your air flow. Jerky spurts of air will not maintain it. It needs to be smooth and steady, in just the right amount. From there, You can ration it to hold as long as possible.

#2 – Completely Relaxed Jaw, Face/Mouth and Neck Muscles

Very few of my students above the age of 5 can instantly do bubble lips. Tension is most often the first block to overcome.

Relaxed jaw, mouth muscles, even the full face and neck allows our fullest and purest tones to emerge. When we are holding tension in these areas, it affects our singing voice greatly. It causes unnessesary strain, limits and even blocks what we can do, as well as coloring our singing with this very strain and tension.

Now it’s entirely possible to sing with this tension, and some would even argue it’s become the norm in many styles of modern music. But you CAN NOT do bubble lips with this held tension. So with the Bubble Lips exercise, you are working with your body to develop the habit of absolute relaxation in these important areas. You are learning to identify tension and let it go. You are then more free to use your true and natural singing voice, something that most of us knew how to do effortlessly as children.

Try It For Yourself

If this exercise is new to you, try it for yourself. As I mentioned, most people have trouble with it at first. But within a short period of time, most are able to figure out how to do it.

If you already know it and can do it well, scroll further down to more advanced uses. It can helpful in many ways, which is why it’s so popular among the pros.

Steps for Bubble Lips

#1 – Just get the bubble lips going as I did in the first video and you can see here again. Then try to hold it as long as you can.

Any self-consciousness you feel can affect the facial tension especially. So best to try it alone and maybe in front of a mirror to see where the tension hides.
If you are not sure how get the proper breath for this, see my videos with instruction on diaphramatic breathing.

#2 – Add a Tone, any tone! Make sure your get the bubble lips going first. Then add any tone in your range.

The notes at the top or bottom of your range (Fringe Notes), or in your break zone will be more challenging, so keep that in mind.
See my post for more details about range, break zone, ect…

#3 – Slide up and down as this video shows. Make sure you get the bubble lips going first, then start the slide. This sliding helps bridge your different voices and smooths out transition, as well as adding more flexibility to your voice.

More Advanced Applications of Bubble Lips

#4 – Once Bubble Lips becomes easy for you – which it will if you practice it regularly for a given time – than you can apply it any vocal warm up (for the most part).
You’ll be surprised at the relaxation and ease you feel on notes/exercises that normally feel difficult. It just feels effortless. And this exercise is retraining your body to sing with out any tension.

#5 Use it as a Spot Cleaner – the best benefit of all, in my opinion, is to apply bubble lips to trouble spots.
For example, you are singing a certain point in the song. Over and over again, your voice is strained and small, no matter how much you work through the passage. The notes are there for you, but your throat is closing in, or otherwise blocking a nice sound.
When this situation arises, try going over those same notes with the bubble lips. After a few times through, you then sing it again with lyrics. And 95% of the time, it will sound more open and effortless. It’s powerful.

Practice Bubble Lips Anywhere

To get to this place, where you can use bubble lips to master certain problem spots, you first must be a master of the Bubble Lips exercise.

So start at the first step and work your way through. Doesn’t matter how long it takes you, you’ll get there eventually and in the meantime you are creating wonderful habits that will affect ALL YOUR SINGING. As well as help to keep your singing apparatus healthy.

Plus – Bubble lips can be worked on anytime, anywhere. Next time you are in a waiting situation, try working on your bubble lips. You’ll be clocking in time towards mastery, plus releasing tension and stress.

4 Likes

Thanks for putting these videos and posts together Lyndol :+1:

It’s a wonderful resource for our vocal students.

Cheers!

I’m not a singer, and think I have about a 6 note comfort range in alto register, but I tried this in a 12 note scale from low to high and was surprised that right after, I could actually sing that scale without feeling strain. I can see the vocal cord relaxation benefit for singers Thank you for all the great accompaniment lessons Lyndol.

@scott1 Hilarious - it’s definitely for spot cleaning melodies only! Messy eaters will have to find another trick (club soda?)

Also - you can tell by these videos - I’m not self conscious about doing Bubble Lips At All anymore. It’s just too effective. I learned it about 13 years ago in Paris. It took me about 6 months to be able to do it consistently. It’s become my go to trick for both singing and stress! At this point, I’m bubble lipping all over town:)

Glad you are enjoying the singing lessons. Don’t give up on the Bubble Lips.

@LoriNelson - that’s awesome Lori! So happy to hear that! Will be exciting to see if you experience more and more relaxation as well as a growth in range with more practice.

@Hayden - My pleasure!