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I was hesitant to post this question, as I imagine a ridiculous amount of people post here asking about it, but I can't find help with this specific issue. After some time and tutorials, I'm able to vibrate my tongue in what I think is the right position, but that's about as far as I've gotten. I cannot for the life of me add my voice to it. I sound like those spring door stops when you flick them. It's also delayed, it takes a second or two of building up pressure before I'm actually able to initiate the trill and once I do, it's accompanied by a throaty sound like I'm trying to cough up phlegm. Whenever I do try to add voice it sounds hard, almost like I'm trying to say "tra." My theory is that my tongue is still to stiff so it takes a lot of air to get it to move. Even if my assumption is correct, I have no idea how to fix it. Does anyone know how to help with this issue?

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  • What language are you referring to? In Spanish, an alveolar trill does not involve the throat.. In any case, you have to make the tip of your tongue vibrate. This does exist in Scottish English and Scottish Gaelic but not in AmE or BrE.
    – Lambie
    Sep 2, 2023 at 16:59
  • Well, I gave you an answer....
    – Lambie
    Sep 4, 2023 at 13:46
  • What is your first language? Where did you learn it (i.e. if it's English what kind of accent do you have?) Sep 18, 2023 at 13:24
  • Tip: Start singing a note, and then whilst holding the note do your trill. Sep 18, 2023 at 13:25

2 Answers 2

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alveolar trill

  1. How to roll your Rs

The answer is simple: Gravity.

Rather than training to activate the muscles, it’s more important to learn how to deactivate them. Lie down on a flat surface or tilt your head up to a 90° angle, relax your tongue, you`ll find the gravity has helped you to pull it down to touch the hard palate. Now your tongue is prepared in a pre-tapping position automatically, without pulling a muscle.

The next step is also simple: exhale. Allow strong exhalation to force the air pass the oral cavity and into the small gap between your tongue and hard palate, you’ll soon notice the tip of your tongue starts to vibrate. Now that the muscles are completely relaxed, this process should be much easier to achieve than when they are stiff.

Once you are able to sense a vibration, you are officially enrolled in the alveolar trill exercises. Keep your head tilted, practice every day, until both two parts of the tongue muscles get used to the movements and are able to function separately. Once vibration is guaranteed, try gradually bringing your head down to a 45° angle while making the sound, and then eventually down to the normal position. At this point there’s no need to involve the vocal cord, as the practice is all about muscle training and physical memory. The more time you spend on practicing every day, the quicker you’ll be able to vibrate your tongue while looking horizontally.

Now it’s time to do some letter combinations. The vibration noise you now are able to make should sound like a “tr.” Use your vocal cord and make a “dr” sound, you’ll find it more challenging. This is because now your exhalation activates not only the vibration of your tongue but also your vocal cord. As the old saying goes, practice is still very much the key to success.

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It's called practice. You are expecting too much too fast. It will happen when it is suppose to happen. The more you simply practice the more it will happen. The less you try to force it to make it happen sooner the sooner it will happen. It is really that simple.

It is not a technique issue but a practice issue which means that it is a muscle coordination and brain issue and control issue.

It's like riding a bike, once you get it then you get it. If you just ride the bike and enjoy the process including falling off then it will just happen. If you put too much pressure on yourself you will inevitably no be able to do it because you will try to do it and actually just get locked in to doing it wrong.

There are more important things in the world than being able to trill your r's by tomorrow.

It's actually very easy to do but when I was "trying to do it" I couldn't. Then after a while I remembered as a kid I used to make "machine gun sounds" and well, I realized I could do it. Then it was just playing around to get variations. It is not so much a technique as it is an "idea". Meaning if you can connect the idea in your mind(imagine yourself doing it in some sense but really you hear it in your head) then you will almost be able to do it. If you just let it naturally come out you will do it. If you try to force it chances are you will over tense your muscles making it not work.

In some sense it's sort of like spitting a loogie caught in the back of your throat but that is more in the back. Anyways, that is even too much. Once you start trying to analyze it then it becomes self-defeating.

As you listen to people do it more you will just naturally do it. It is something that you pick up on in the process so if you can't do it now it really just means you are not suppose to be doing it now.

Move on, it will happen, trying to forcing it is just wasting energy. Listening to people tell you how to do it is the wrong approach. They will tell you wrong(It is not how you do it even it they seem to be "experts". How you do it is not to do it(think Buddhist monk approach)). If you just stop worrying about it one day you will just be able to do it and the more you can move past it the sooner that day comes.

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