Riva Capellari

[email protected]

Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Getting in Vocal Shape

Getting in Vocal Shape

It may seem early for my annual “back to school” issue, but just like athletes getting ready for the upcoming sports season, teachers need to think about getting into “vocal shape” now for the new school year. After months of relative vocal rest, teachers will be thrown into a 5/7 hours a day vocal routine that will wreak havoc on their vocal folds. After just a few weeks, teachers experience voice loss, hoarseness and vocal fatigue that interfere with their ability to perform their jobs well.

Women especially seem to fall victim to vocal problems: they speak about 10% more when teaching and 7% more outside their job than males. Also, because their voices are pitched higher, their vocal fold tissues vibrate at a faster rate.

Even speaking in a healthy, functioning manner can cause wear and tear, making it doubly important to practice good vocal hygiene, including vocal rest.

So here are some tips:

Vary the rhythm and pitch while speaking. It’s healthier and more interesting. Be careful not to shout over the loud clammer in the classroom (children’s voices can be very loud and high!). Have a cache of activities ready for students to do to provide some vocal downtown for the teacher: videos, group discussions, student presentations, etc. Even a cycle of 10 minutes speaking, 5 minutes vocal rest during an hour can be beneficial.

Monitor voice use outside the classroom. Make sure to schedule vocal rest – let your answering machine take care of those calls after work!

Our educational system does not train teachers how to use and maintain their voices. Voice lessons (you should have seen that coming!) will train teachers to breathe properly before speaking and instruct them in how to project their voices without strain.

Research has shown that dysphonic voices (voices that break up) leave gaps in the information given, putting a greater demand on the cognitive processing ability of students. For younger students, whose brains have more difficulty figuring out the missing words, this may have a negative effect on their ability to understand and learn the material.

So to make sure you are the best teacher you can be and to prolong your teaching career -consider voice training. It is never too early to get that voice back in shape!

Rogerson & Dodd (2005) Is there an effect of dysphonic teachers’voices on children’s processing of spoken language. Journal of Voice, 19:1

Hunter, Tanner, Smith. Gender differences affecting vocal health of women in vocally demanding careers. Logopedics, Phoniatrics, Vocology. July, 2011

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>