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Voice Rescue: Essential Vocal Lessons Every School Teacher Needs to Prevent Voice Loss!

As a school teacher, your voice is one of your most powerful tools. You use it to instruct, inspire, and manage your classroom! However, many teachers face the challenge of losing their voices due to the constant strain of speaking for long hours, usually at a high volume. If you're one of them, you're not alone. Thankfully, vocal lessons can help you maintain a healthy voice, ensuring that you can continue to communicate effectively without the risk of voice loss. As a vocal coach who has worked with a fair amount of teachers suffering voice loss, I want to share a few facts and tips that will help you too! Find out more about how I can help here.

The Importance of Vocal Health for Teachers

Teachers are PROFESSIONAL VOICE USERS (much like singers and actors!). Yet, vocal health is often overlooked in teacher training programs - many young, newly qualified school teachers experience voice loss. Prolonged speaking, often in noisy environments, can lead to vocal fatigue, hoarseness, and even more severe voice disorders. Recognising the importance of vocal health is the first step towards preserving your voice.

Common Causes of Voice Loss in School Teachers

  1. Overuse and Strain: Constant speaking without adequate rest can tire your vocal folds!

  2. Poor Breathing Techniques: Inefficient breathing can put extra strain on your voice.

  3. Environmental Factors: Dusty classrooms, poor acoustics, and background noise can exacerbate vocal strain. Hard surfaces reflect sound, soft surfaces absorb it - depending on your classroom layout and content, your voice may not travel as well as it could.

  4. Lack of Hydration: Dehydration can cause your vocal folds to become dry and irritated. This is especially a factor for those teachers in spaces such as science labs where liquids aren't allowed!

  5. Incorrect Voice Projection: Shouting or speaking too loudly using bad technique.

Practical Tips for Teachers' Voices

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water - little and often - throughout the day to keep your vocal folds lubricated. If you're able to, adding a vocal steam in the morning/evening will aid any fatigue!

  • Take Vocal Breaks: Schedule short breaks to rest your voice, especially after long periods of speaking! A good cool down and vocal rest at the end of the day is also beneficial.

  • Use Amplification/Alternative Ways to Communicate: If possible, use a microphone or voice amplifier to reduce the need for shouting. Incorporate non-verbal signals, such as hand clapping or holding a sign, to prevent you from raising your voice.

  • Know When To See a Doctor: the British Voice Association suggests that any voice problem lasting longer than three weeks should be investigated. If you suffer sudden vocal changes that won't go away after two/three days of rest, see your GP.

  • Find a Vocal Coach: learning how to use and look after your voice is the best way to prevent you from losing it! Your GP will recommend you seek out a vocal coach, like myself, who is trained in vocal health. If you're a teacher and want to find out more about vocal health sessions, click here.

Key Vocal Exercises for Teachers

Here are a few easily integrable exercises for teachers to use:

  1. Breathing Exercises: Practice diaphragmatic breathing to support your voice. Lie on your back, place a book on your abdomen, and breathe deeply, making the book rise and fall.

  2. Lip Trills: Gently blow air through your closed lips, creating a vibrating sound. This helps relax your vocal folds.

  3. Humming: Start with a gentle hum, gradually increasing in volume. This warms up your vocal cords.

  4. Resonance/Twang Exercises: Use sounds like “mmm” or “ng” to focus on vibrating your voice in the face (nose and mouth area) for clearer projection. Practising 'nasty' sounds (such as a witch cackle, 'nyea', 'wah') will strengthen your twang resonance - something we use for loud, high, and EASY projection.

  5. Pitch Glides: Glide from low to high pitches and back again to stretch and strengthen your vocal range. I like to do these on a 'ng'.

  6. Blow Bubbles: One of my personal and all-time client favourites is water phonation. Grab a wide straw and a bottle with approximately 10cm of water, and blow bubbles. Add sound to give your voice a 'vocal massage'.

Seeking Further Support

The first port of call is always your GP. They may refer you for further investigation with Speech & Language Therapists or may advise you to seek vocal health education and training via a vocal coach. You can also self-refer to voice clinics across the country. A free directory of UK voice clinics is available over on the British Voice Associaiton website.

Know Your Rights to a Healthy Voice

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (United Kingdom 1974), your employer has a legal obligation to assess the risk of voice loss and to make required adjustments to your working conditions. Depending on the duration and severity of symptoms, voice loss that affects your everyday life and work can be classified as a disability under the Equality Act (UK 2010). Your employer has a Duty of Care!

Final Thoughts...

Taking care of your voice is essential for your career and well-being as a teacher. By incorporating good vocal hygiene and technique into your routine, you can prevent voice loss and ensure that your most powerful tool remains strong and effective. Remember, your voice matters—take the steps to protect it.

For more information on vocal health sessions I offer for non-singer professional voice users, visit here. Not answered your question/want to find out more? Get in touch!


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