Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Back To School!

August is back-to-school month for students and teachers. Weeks before students arrive, teachers are busy preparing for the upcoming school year. Unfortunately, most teachers neglect to prepare the voice for those long teaching days.

Why is this important?

Generally, teachers do not receive vocal training as part of their education despite their status as professional voice users: professionals whose primary occupational communication vehicle (tool) is the voice.

Students, especially the younger ones, benefit when material is presented in a strong, clear voice. Any unheard information can be detrimental to learning. Ideally, teachers need to speak 10-15db above the ambient noise in the room.  However, most environments in schools record higher levels than the standard noise level of 35db, driving teachers and staff to crank up the volume, whether in the cafeteria or the classroom (which is usually acoustically poor to begin with).  If not trained to project the voice without straining this continuous vocal stress can lead to long-term hoarseness and even injury.

Teachers’ vocal risk is twice that of most other occupations. Their vocal folds go through approximately 1 million vibration cycles a day with little recovery in-between. They are vulnerable to viruses and subjected to noise and toxins (think chemistry and shop classes) .

What’s a teacher to do?

Schedule vocal “naps” in your class planning. Show videos, have group discussions and demonstrations, invite volunteer parents to read to the younger set, use whistles or hand gestures to get students’ attention – anything that will give the voice some vocal down time. Staying hydrated and warming up before class will also stave off injury and strengthen the voice. A vocal cool down after an intense vocal day can also be helpful. Maintain an upright position and full respiratory support when speaking and find your optimal speaking frequency (say “mmm hum?”). It may also be necessary to reduce your social vocalizing during the week. Practice your listening skills!

And lastly but most importantly, get some vocal training to ensure vocal longevity!


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