Double Resistor Exercises

Weekly Teaching Tip – Oct. 31, 2011

I received the following question: Bubble Lips is such a helpful tool.  How much time do you take if a student struggles with BL/TT?  Sometimes I see such frustration in their demeanor that it feels counter productive.

Answer: I encourage students to continue working on bubble lips on their own and I try and revisit it and see how they are doing. I have never, in 30 years, had a student not be able to do bubble lips eventually, although it has taken several students quite a while to figure it out.

The beauty of bubble lips is that it puts the body in balance quickly (balancing air and muscle). It is also a sound and sensation unfamiliar to the muscle memory part of the brain so there is little, if any resistance to the exercise. Plus you are doing something a little bit silly so you are not overly concerned with trying to make it sound “good” which is usually why the brain fights an exercise.

The Bubble lips exercise works because it is a “double resistor”. It creates two air stoppages along the vocal tract, helping to hold back the air blast allowing the vocal folds to make the adjustments that they need to in order to get the different pitches correctly, (one at the vocal fold level, another at the lips.) At the same time a small amount of resistance is required to create the sound which holds the vocal folds together.

There are several other exercises that can help the body into the same feeling as well however if bubble lips are difficult. A tongue roll is also a double resistor and works great, especially for guys or if the student has tension in the tongue. However, there are many more people that can’t do tongue rolls than can’t do bubble lips. An “NG”, an “N”, “Z”, or “zzhh” can get the same effect.

So, if a student is struggling with any particular sound don’t continue to force it. Try and find a different exercise that will serve the same purpose and get the same effect.

Related Articles