I have a student, Eden, who somewhere along the way picked up a great deal of tongue activity and tension on the retroflex R sound at the end of words (and sometimes at the end of interior syllables). She doesn’t speak with the a tight R, so this is clearly a habitual event that is now part of the overwhelming muscle memory.
Aside from customary exercises attaining space and freedom and ease on the inhalation, I gave Eden a series of words to sing, slowly and with care.
On a descending 3-2-1 pattern, sing ‘rot.’ Repeat. Sense the tongue activity that quickly disappears into the vowel. Then on the same pattern sing ‘tore,’ saving the final R for the instant of release. This is challenging when the tongue wants to starting seizing up into a lugubrious R sound two pitches early!
Words with initial R sound that are safe for vocalizing:
Words with multiple R sounds, where the student can be mindful of producing the final R the same way as the initial:
Another exercise I gave Eden was to mindfully sing word combinations with R at the end, but with alternating fricatives and nasal consonants at the beginning:
And another exercise: on the same pitch, sing a long tone on the word ‘foe,’ then sing the same long tone, now doubled, on the word ‘forest’ or ‘foreign,’ keeping the R out until it’s the initial consonant of the second syllable.