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Articulate: In Defense of Loose Lips

Americans are a tight-lipped bunch. We come by it honestly, I suppose, but the lips have things to do so we need to loosen them up.

Lips are very involved in both, articulation of speech, and formation of facial expressions. So today, we are going to teach those lips to trill.

The lip trill (or it’s cousin the raspberry) is a flutter of the lips against each other. You start with the lips lightly closed. If your mouth already feels tight go ahead and rub the lips and surrounding areas with your pinky and ring finger. Then blow, trying to get the lips to flutter or buzz. This is a goldilocks breath, enough to buzz the lips not so much that it is effortful. If the lips won’t buzz there might still be too much tension and you can help by pressing gently into the muscles on either side of the mouth. Once you get it going and sustaining, it may cause your nose to itch. Just press on the tip of your nose and that will take a break.

Practice lip trills unvoiced or for advanced techniques try it on a pitch. Observe how the muscles around your mouth start to relax. There are other benefits to the lip trill relating to breath-flow and tone but we’ll get into that another time.

Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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