There has been an interesting discussion in one of my Chat Groups around vocal problems and music teaching. I penned a bit of advice to those of us struggling with these issues.
Professional help is often necessary and we are all a bit guilty about leaving that too late. “I’ll be OK” – sometimes doesn’t cut it. in the past Jane Mott (Speech Therapist) and voice amplifier has helped me.
A bit of personal advice from an old teacher (me).
One thing we can all do is look to our own practice and see what we can change to help.
There are many things we can’t change – time table, work load….some things we can change.
* Drink water – sip constantly.
* Avoid speaking over noise. I KNOW how hard that is – think back to College/Uni training for behaviour management techniques that work like waiting and proximity to demand noise levels drop before you speak or sing. It takes time, it is certainly more difficult with some classes/schools than others, but kids will (in the main) get to know your expectations and rise to them. If you expect quiet before you speak/sing, and you are willing to be patient and consistent in your demands, it probably will happen.
* Give some directions without speaking at all. For example, if I don’t sing a circle song (which I start then stop singing right away), I just gesture with one arm in a circle motion and the kids act! I gesture to stand, or sit too.
* DON’T sing with the students all the time – but this is hard not to do! I find myself singing Nathan’s ANZAC song with the kids even though I am using the clip! How stupid is that!!!! It is better for them if you don’t sing with them all the time. Otherwise they become reliant on you. It is amazing how much more you can hear if you stop singing.
* Set routines that help you to NOT use your voice. For example – I have kids enter the room (with a ‘clip’ on to minimize behaviour issues), get pencils, books handed out by designated kids, sit in designated spots – no need for instructions or singing or anything really (when it goes well!). Sounds very regimented – but it is just the start of the lesson and I have saved my voice so much work and made my lesson so much more efficient. Whatever your routines are – if you have some it helps!!!
* Never yell! (Oh boy is that hard. I have to be honest – had a yell at some terrible behaviour between PE and Music the other day) – BUT I try sooooo hard to never yell – it really hurts!!!! Quiet can be so much more menacing – and so much better for your voice.