• Sherry Blevins

Music Teacher Tips - #7 - Vocal Fatigue

Updated: Apr 10

Music Teacher Tip #7 - #VocalFatigue:

🥴 Do you have vocal fatigue? Teaching, by nature, is a lot of talking, but if you're the general music or chorus teacher, you're talking AND singing ALL DAY! Here are some tips from someone who has endured a vocal nodule and speech therapy to correct it.

💦 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you're smart like my friend Leslie, you'll get a water bottle that tells you how much to drink by what time. This will help you keep track. If the taste of plain water gets old to you, there's a brand called Hint that somehow infuses flavor with no extra calories and no artificial stuff either. I don't know how they do it, but my favorite is the blackberry one.

☕️ Avoid caffeine. Yes, I know you think there's no way, but you CAN wean yourself off of it. Remember, caffeine is drying and will dehydrate you and your vocal cords.

👄 BREATHE! Take the time to breathe like a singer (or trombonist). Whatever the case may be, an unsupported voice will quickly become an injured voice. (See my Music Teacher Tip #1 for ideas on how to integrate breathing exercises into your warmups.)

Don't just breathe in order to sing or play a phrase. Breathe from your diaphragm EVERY time you speak. If you know how to place your voice, do that too when speaking.

🥤 Consider adding these straw exercises (see link below) to your routine. I've even seen these used effectively as a part of choral warmups. I learned them from my speech therapist. She gave them to me to strengthen and heal my voice. This guy in the video, Ingo Titze, is an expert on the technique, but if you do a simple Google search, you'll find tons of information on this. I now use the technique with all of my singers to help them with breath control, relaxing the laryngeal muscles, and maintaining resonance. By the way, a bigger straw is easier. The smaller the straw, the more advanced you are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xYDvwvmBIM

😆🎶 Stop singing with your students! I know it's hard, but you have to stop. First of all, how can you accurately assess them if you're singing along? Secondly, if you're singing loudly enough to be heard over them, it's not healthy singing. Why wear your voice out if you don't have to? Sing only to model.

😫 Don't yell to discipline. There are better ways. Ask for help if you don't know the better ways. Seriously, don't yell.

🎤 If after all of this, you still have an unhealthy voice, invest in a portable microphone and use it. Here is a site that breaks down your options: https://nextthing.co/voice-amplifier-and-recorder

👩🏼‍⚕️ If you're STILL having problems, maybe you really need to see an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) who specializes in the voice. It's possible that you've done damage to your cords which may require medical intervention. The most common issues that cause damage to the voice are gastric reflux and overuse (including improper use). If your high notes are gone and they won't come back, or if you have pain not related to a viral or bacterial illness, do yourself a favor, and make an appointment with a professional.

💗🎶 Take care of yourself and be well!

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