Rolling the r in sung Italian – a tried and tested fix

We are often asked about rolling the r (a vibrant consonant) in sung Italian as many singers find this challenging. But with regular practice and specific exercises, everyone can achieve a rolled r (provided that there are no physical impediments to the tongue). Here’s a very effective exercise that will help singers to quickly achieve a good, energised rolled r:

If you sing atro [at: tro] or a similar combination of a long t and r with a long stop before the r, this will trigger the air pressure to start flicking the tip of the tongue. Notice that the place of articulation of the t is already where the rolling r should be (alveolar/dental), therefore the pressure built will go straight to the right place.

Don’t forget to check that the stop before the r is done correctly, i.e., that it is long and connected. You’ll see that a flick and then maybe a couple of flicks will happen quite quickly. Practising this for five minutes each day should give you results within about a week.

When practising this exercise, it helps to relax the tongue but maintain strong breath support and a steady airflow to allow the vibration to happen easily at the tip of the tongue.

It’s better not to move onto different exercises for rolling the r before feeling comfortable with this one, in order to avoid creating tension in the wrong place.

Feel free to contact us to let us know how you or your students get on with this exercise, or if you have any questions or feedback.

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