Lip Trills

Karen Wilkinson

  • Reference Number: HEY-1308/2022
  • Departments: ENT, Speech and Language
  • Last Updated: 1 October 2022

Introduction

This leaflet has been produced to give you general information on your problem and how it can be treated. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor or Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). If after reading it you have any concerns or questions, please talk to a member of the healthcare team.

What are lip trills?

Lip trills are an exercise for people with voice problems.

Lip trills can help to:

  • Release tension in the lips and oral cavity.
  • Prevent vocal fold tension and strain when voicing.
  • Improve breath support and breath control.
  • Improve our pitch range without straining our voice.

When to do lip trills

Lip trills help to warm your voice up and down so it can be useful to practice these exercises in the morning, before lunch, or when you feel your voice quality may be getting worse.

It is best to carry out these exercises regularly, for short periods of time, as it will have more of a positive effect on your voice.

A good target would be to practice the lip trill exercises three to five times a day for up to five minutes each time.

How to do lip trills

Sit comfortably and avoid slouching. You may prefer to stand up, with your feet slightly apart to evenly balance your weight.

Stay relaxed. Use a breathing technique if your Speech and Language Therapist has advised that you use one.

  1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth silently. Do this until you have a smooth rhythm.
  2. Breathe in through your nose and when you breathe out, vibrate your lips together as if you were blowing bubbles underwater. Your lips should make a noise but you should not be using your vocal folds.

Your lips should be relaxed and vibrate freely. If you can’t do this:

  • Place one finger from each hand on your face, either side of your lips.
  • Gently, push your cheeks so that your lips make a slight pout.
  • Produce a gentle lip trill, holding it for as long as it feels relaxed and comfortable. Stop before you run out of breath and stop if you feel any discomfort and tension. Repeat the lip trill 10 times.

Breathe in through your nose and when you breathe out, vibrate your lips together with some sound, like a telephone ringing (‘brrrrrrrrrrrr’).

Choose a pitch which is comfortable for you and keep the pitch monotonous.

How to do lip trills – adding some voice

Breathe in through your nose and when you breathe out, vibrate your lips together with some sound, like a telephone ringing (‘brrrrrrrrrrrr’).

Choose a pitch which is comfortable for you and keep the pitch monotonous

Repeat this ten times and stop if you run out of breath or if you feel any discomfort or tension.

How to do lip trills – changing the pitch

Start by making a voiced trill at a low pitch and gently glide up to a higher pitch.

Then start making a voiced trill at a high pitch and gently glide down to a lower pitch.

 

Repeat this ten times.

How to do lip trills – adding vowel sounds onto the end of the trill

Make a voice lip trill as above, and add the following vowels to the end of the trill. Choose a pitch which is comfortable for you and keep the pitch monotonous.

  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ahh
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ee
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – eye
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ayy
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – oar

How to do lip trills – adding words onto the end of the trill

Make a voiced lip trill as above, and add the following words to the end of the trill.

Choose a pitch which is comfortable for you and keep the pitch monotonous.

  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr –ine
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr –awn
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ain
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ight
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – eeze
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – own
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr –and
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – aid
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – oom
  • Brrrrrrrrrrrr – ush

If you have any questions or concerns about these exercises please contact your speech and language therapist on 01482 604331 who will be happy to discuss them with you.

This leaflet was produced by the Speech and Language Therapy Department and ENT Department, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will be reviewed in October 2025.

 Ref: HEY/1308/2022

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

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