Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Vocal Shape UP!

It may seem a bit early for my annual “Back to School” issue, but teachers will be returning to their classrooms in a little over a month so now is the time for them to think about readying the voice for those long, intense speaking days when school starts in earnest. Although the voice gets a much needed rest over the summer months, this respite can be quickly voided if the voice is not adequately prepared for the upcoming days of teaching. And once the voice begins to falter (somewhere in October!), compensatory vocal solutions kick in bringing with them many vocal problems.

Here is some interesting data on teachers.

  • Teachers’ vocal folds go through approximately 1 million vibration cycles a day.
  • Teacher absences as a result of vocal issues costs $2.5 billion yearly
  • Teachers are 32x more likely to suffer vocal problems than other professions
  • 40% of teachers have vocal complaints; only 15% seek treatment

Other factors that put teachers at risk vocally:

  • They are exposed to ill children
  • They have little vocal recovery time
  • They teach in noisy classrooms
  • They tend to self-medicate
  • They usually have no vocal training

In addition, 15% of students nowadays have hearing loss, a result of loud everything and ear infections. Teachers often find themselves speaking with greater volume to combat this phenomenon. And unfortunately, the noise level in many classrooms exceeds 35dB, the safe sound level for speaking.

What to do? Take care of yourself. Vocal health and whole body health are intertwined. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet and little exercise deprives the body of its defenses. Respiratory ailments can sideline the voice for days, sometimes even weeks if not attended to.

And most importantly, teachers need to seek out vocal training. Our education system does not recognize this essential component in their curriculum for teachers, even though the profession requires intensive voice use. There may be many factors out of a teacher’s control, but one thing that is within their power, is to learn how to use their voice in a healthy, functional manner and how to care for it.

So teachers! Prepare and stay vocally healthy this school year.

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