I’ve declared October to be all about vocal health. With the change in seasons and the start of the semester, my semi-lazy approach to the summer no longer works with six, sometimes, seven hour teaching days in front of my computer.
The first week back, my voice was exhausted and completely in shock teaching my full schedule – are you going to keep doing this to me for twelve more weeks!? After that, I forced myself to look at what was making me so vocally and physically tired. Even though you may not be teaching voice lessons all day – you are probably speaking all day into the Zoom machine, or may be out there in the world — trying to communicate to others behind a mask. Here are a couple of things that I have found helpful and I hope they help you too!
What is your setup like?
- Are you in a quiet room, or do you have to speak loudly because you are in a heavily trafficked space?
- Because we are basically speaking into the great unknown screen in front of us, the body wants to naturally send more energy (and sometimes vocal power) that we actually need. If you are in a quiet space, try speaking at a normal indoor volume and see if it carries. If noise is an issue, maybe you should try using headphones!
Are you using any type of headphones or microphones?
- As I mentioned before, if you are in a louder space, you may want to try some sort of headphones. This way you are able to hear others clearly and won’t feel the need to shout, to be heard. Noise-cancelling headphones can sometimes be tricky because they are just so good at blocking out any noise! If you are wearing noise cancelling headphones, it is hard to regulate how loudly you are speaking, When I use these, I usually have one off of my ear so I am able to hear myself. I just bought myself open-backed headphones, which are fabulous because I am able to hear both myself and whomever I am working with. If you’d like suggestions — check out my resource page here.
5 minutes of complete silence for every hour you are talking.
- I know this is a big ask, especially for anyone who is doing a lecture, running a meeting, teaching a class, etc. After I am done teaching, I set a five minute timer and shut up. If nothing else, it gives your voice a complete break for five minutes, especially if you are about to speak for another hour once time is up.
Where is the sound energy living when you speak? Do you find yourself vocally falling down and back at the end of sentences? Are you breathing?
- When you open your mouth to speak, do you take that extra second to inhale and find lift? Do a couple of high sighs to move the voice around and lift it up. Use a pinch to find a more forward & light sound. Similar to singing, inhale and use the breath with intention during a sentence, just like you do when singing a phrase.
- If you have a prepared presentation, go through and write arrows upward, wherever you feel the vocal energy starting to drip.
- Your speaking voice and singing voice are the same thing, it’s time to start treating them both the same way.
Drink plenty of water and have hard candies close by.
- Sucking on hard candies is a great way to keep the throat moist without having to constantly drink liquids.
Already doing all of these things?
Check out this older blog post to check in with your daily warmups and determine if something else may be the cause of your fatigue.
What tips or tricks do you use?
As always, here are several ways I can help you on your vocal journey: