The Tongue Trill

The ‘tongue trill’ is often used in vocal training. A tongue trill is when the tongue vibrates when exhaling during vocalization. This vibration is sometimes referred to as rolling the tongue. It is common to practice the tongue trill with the letters A, L, and R. Surprisingly, many people do not know which muscle they are primarily using when producing a tongue trill. I have investigated the movements using palpation techniques and will review the mechanics in the image displayed below.
First, let me explain the structure of tongue.
The tongue sticks to the hyoid bone, which is the bone located at the base of the tongue.
Typically, most people think the tongue root is located in the back of the tongue, but actually ‘the root’ attaches in the mental spine of the mandible.


The tongue root is highlighted in blue in the above image, and the tongue is coiled in the air whilst the hyoid bone sustains the tongue.
The human tongue is divided into anterior and posterior parts. The anterior part is the visible part situated at the front and contains the superior longitudinal muscle, the inferior longitudinal muscle, the transverse muscle and the vertical muscle. All of these muscles, through movements, change the figure of the tongue.
The posterior part of the tongue is the part closest to the throat. Which contains the hyoglossus muscle, the styloglossus muscle, the genioglossus muscle and the palatoglossus muscle. These muscles also play an important role in the production of the tongue’s movements.
All of the tongue’s muscles are controlled by nerves, except the palatoglossus muscle. Which is why that specific nerve activation is so important and comes into play when stuttering or speaking.
There are two ways of how to do the tongue trill:
A:The posterior parts or the anterior part move easily, and make a smooth and natural sound.
B:Pulling and straining the anterior part firmly, making an awkward and unnatural sound.
C:The posterior parts and the anterior part are hard, and can not vibrate properly, making the effect brief. This kind of type mostly uses the vocal cord and exhalation.
A and B can do the tongue trill but not C.
Furthermore, ‘A’ is really good at doing the tongue trill, and ‘B’ can but barely do the tongue trill.
The tongue trill aims to acquire the flexibility of the anterior and posterior muscles (suprahyoid muscles).
However, if you do not use the right techniques, such as ‘B’ or ‘C’, you could chance straining the tongue or throat, which may obstruct your vocalizing.
Please be careful when practicing or performing the tongue trill.