Voice Tips for Teachers
Voice Tips for Teachers, People, who are dependent on their voices for their occupation are termed as professional voice users (PVU)? These include teachers, singers, news anchors, radio and video jockeys, coaches, salespersons, religious leaders, and politicians, etc. The vocal demands, quality, or style of use and overall quantity varies in each profession. However, the common denominator is the clear and effective use of the voice that determines their success in one or the other way. Without their voices, these individuals can no longer perform the duties required. An elite performer among PVU is like a vocal athlete whose voice must perform optimally for his/her livelihood and it includes singers and actors mainly. Teachers, salespersons, politicians, etc. fall into the non-elite group of PVU.
Risk factors for voice problems :
- The number of years teaching
- High background noise levels in the classroom,
- Experiencing psychological stress while teaching,
- Holding breath while speaking,
- Clenching jaw/teeth while speaking,
- Upper respiratory tract infection,
- Thyroid problems,
- Acid reflux
Presenting symptoms :
Vocal abuse and misuse among teachers are of slow onset and it may be even progressive with continuous use of voice Their symptoms present a range of conditions including :
- Harsh or rough voice,
- Shortness of breath,
- Breathy voice,
- A decrease in pitch range,
- A decrease in loudness,
- Loss of voice,
- Increased strain on speaking,
- Tension in neck muscles etc.
Click here to know about Do you have a voice disorder?
It may cause the development of some of the most common voice disorders such as vocal nodules and vocal polyps. Now the question is how you can avoid such annoying complications when teaching is a gifted profession you have.
Following are some basic guidelines to be followed to preserve your gifted profession:
1.Throat clearing – A big NO!
Due to excessive mucous, some tend to clear throats out of habit. This behavior is traumatic to the vocal folds. A few alternatives that can be used are:
i. Swallowing saliva helps reduce the perceived need to clear the throat by relaxing your voice box (larynx) and getting rid of the mucous .
ii. Taking a small sip of water – fill up your mouth with water and drink it sip by sip.
2. Shhh…! Let your voice speak – No whispering
When one whispers, some portions of the vocal folds come closely in approximation to each other with more strength which can damage your vocal folds. Forced or loud whispering is the most harmful. However, soft whispering without vocal contact may be safe. Voice Tips for Teachers,
3. No Grunts please !
When you grunt as in while lifting a heavy object or during exercise, do you know that it creates forceful and traumatic adduction of your vocal folds? Instead what can be done?
i. Exhale slowly on the exertion phase of any exercise.
ii. Adduct the vocal folds gently prior to initiating each exercise event (such as sit up or weight lift).
4. Losing your control ?
Often teachers lose their calm and yell or scream as an expression of anger and frustration. This not only affects them but also harms one’s voice. In such situations, use these techniques:
i. Tap the table or using a whistle or bell.
ii. Engage the help of others in monitoring
iii. Use facial and other physical gestures to express emotions
iv. Hissing to express anger/ frustration
5. Say no to caffeine
Excessive caffeine intake has adverse effects and depletes the vocal fold tissues of moisture. To help your vocal folds breathe, you must avoid caffeinated beverages, especially before a heavy performance or rehearsal, lectures, trials, or teaching. Switch to decaffeinated beverages, drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee, soda, or tea
6. Stay healthy.
The quickest route to a fragile, hoarse voice is through a cold, so those sickness-avoiding techniques we utilize during cold and flu season are critical for voice preservation year-round.
7. Slow down your speech.
We strain our voices while talking quickly. “Although teachers have a lot to tell their students, speaking really fast keeps the vocal cords tense and tight, and that is when damage can occur.” Making an effort to always speak at a normal pace will keep our voices strong.
8. Be aware of your breathing.
Throughout the school day, check-in with yourself to make sure your breath is regular and steady. A renowned scientist recommends that we think about our breathing before sleep as a guide.
At the end of the day, when laying down, our abdomens expand as we draw breath in and deflate as we exhale. We should aim for that breathing style also known as abdominal breathing throughout our hectic days.
9. Find your natural pitch.
- The more we speak at the pitch level, the less likely we are to strain. Our best speaking pitch is not the highest or lowest pitch in our natural range, it is in the middle.
- Teachers often may speak lower than natural for a more authoritative sound, or higher than natural to convey friendliness. Both manipulations can overuse the voice.
- Instead, aim for the sound range that comes to your voice naturally, such as the tone of your voice when you spontaneously say “uh-huh.” The top note of your “huh” typically reflects your natural and optimum speaking pitch. If the voice you use to speak in the classroom differs from your natural pitch, you could be straining.
10. Stay hydrated.
Keeping your voice, as well as your body, hydrated through drinking lots of water is key. Coffee does not count, and caffeinated beverages can have the opposite effect and dry out our voices. Water lubricates the vocal cords, preventing wear and tear. Voice Tips for Teachers,
Click here to know about 10 Tips to take care of your voice
Modifications for a better voice :
- Schedule vocal ‘naps’. Give a 20 minutes silence period, two to three times a day.
- Keep a reminder to check your vocal behavior
- Limit the amount of time on the telephone
- Limit interrupting others in conversation.
- Use assistive listening devices in a classroom – Many sound field devices are available today assisted with technologies including microphones with amplifiers, FM, and infrared. Studies report that they make teachers feel less tired as they speak softer.
Click here to know about Vocal tips for singers
Click here to know about Some tips for a good voice for kids.
** For any further queries, kindly contact a speech-language pathologist, they can help you with your voice-related issues.
For more ideas check out our other blogs
- Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation for Children with Cochlear Implant - September 4, 2021
- Stuttering Recovery and Relapse in Children: Parental Guide - August 12, 2021
- Myths About Stuttering : Explained - April 18, 2021