Shaping and Singing Lip Consonants

Lip consonants require the lips to move instead of the tip of the tongue, which requires special consideration in your singing. The similarity is that you can move the tip of your tongue and your lips without moving your jaw.

Figuring out how to keep the space inside your mouth open as you close your lips helps you continue making those round tones as you articulate a consonant sound. The voiced consonants are B, M, and W; P and WH are unvoiced.

Saying P, B, M, W, and WH

While shaping the consonants in the following table, you can feel your

  • Tongue staying steady for all these consonants.

  • Lips close as you make each consonant sound. (But note that your teeth remain open.)

W is different from V. You make the W sound with both lips, and you make the V sound with the bottom lip touching your upper teeth. W can also be confusing because it sounds like ooh. You glide from the ooh sound into the next vowel. Remember that the name of the consonant may be different from the sound. Make WH unvoiced when you read the words in the table below.

Practicing P, B, M, W, and WH
P B M Voiced W Unvoiced WH
pop Bob money wear when
puppy bubba music weather whether
pope bib mother witch what
pencil bulb mimic winter whisper

If you go overboard pronouncing the ending in some consonants, such as B, you may hear a shadow vowel of an uh. Bob-uh isn’t what you want your audience to hear if Bob is the name of the man you’re singing about!

Rehearsing with F and V

While shaping the consonants in the following table, your

  • Tongue stays touching your bottom front teeth.

  • Bottom lip moves up to touch your upper front teeth, but your teeth stay open. You won’t need to use your voice when your lips touch for the F because it’s an unvoiced consonant. The V is voiced. Practice with a mirror to check that your bottom lip is touching your top teeth for the V and the F.

Practicing F and V
F V
father vapor
feather vintage
Phillip vacant

As you may have noticed, different consonants can make the same sound. In Table 9-3 you see different words that make the sound of a K (keep, cup). The letters F and PH make the sound of F. The P consonant alone makes a different sound than PH together.

Singing lip consonants

Singing the lip consonants (see following illustration) gives you a chance to make the sounds of the consonants and practice moving easily from a vowel to the consonant. Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure that you’re keeping your jaw steady, your teeth open, and your lips moving. Record yourself singing so you can listen back and distinguish between voiced and unvoiced consonants.

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