I cannot flutter tongue. When I took Spanish in school, I couldn't say some of the words correctly because I can't roll my tongue. My tongue is very short and the roof of my mouth is high. I've tried "growling" in the back of my throat but that doesn't work well either. Is it possible that I simply may not be able to do this? Or is there a way I can make it work? I come across it often enough that my inability to do it worries me. Any ideas?
Dear Abby Kattentidt,
I have run across this problem with the production of flutter tongue in the past. Being an eternal optimist, I believe that everything can be learned, it is just a question of finding the best methods and having enough time and perseverance.
When that is said, the pessimist inside me - I am trying to keep that tendency down to a minimum - has read stories about the importance of being exposed to all the consonant- and vowel-sounds needed for your language, during your first 18 months. This explains, for example, why Japanese people find it so difficult to distinguish between the sounds of letter l and letter r in western languages.
I would advise that you consult a speech therapist. They have developed methods for teaching the ability to speak again after a stroke, or another kind of brain damage which has severely destroyed pronunciation skills.
The fact that your tongue is shorter than average, may not necessarily be such an obstacle as you seem to think. However, in the moment that you do think that this is the reason, the power of this thought will take over and tell you that searching and training is useless. See my article
Never say never, again
for further thoughts on this.
Plan B would be to keep searching for some sort of growling sounds in the throat while holding on to a long tone. Plan C would be to decide that you are disgusted with this effect altogether, and refuse to respect the composers’ intentions on this – after all - very small issue. Your life in music can certainly continue without this skill. We all have some deficiencies in our playing that we try our best to hide and cover up, may be by showing off with the stuff that we are especially good at instead.
Best of luck for your further search and enjoyment of music!