Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Strengthening my voice

I get hoarse or loose my voice every year during the first two weeks of school. I believe this is related to not talking near as much during the summer as I do when teaching. I read something a few months back about professional speakers needing to take care of their voice as much as a professional singer. I thought, well I may not be a Anthony Robbins or Conan Obrien or Larry the Cable Guy, but I sure do use my voice professionally. Every day.

I decided to do a little research into the whole thing and found several referrals to a book called, Set Your Voice Free: How to Get the Singing or Speaking Voice You Want by Roger Love. I figured what's the worst that could happen....?
  • I'm out a few bucks and I still get a sore, tender throat at the beginning of the school year.
  • I still get hoarse but I am able to sing like a nightengale.
  • I strengthen my voice and I am able to project out into the classroom with such amazing clarity that people travel from other countries to hear me recite this years bus schedule.
  • My teacher friends laugh and point at me and won't let me sit with them during lunch.

I was willing to take the risk. So, I bought the book and read it. Unhappily, I discovered the voice exercises I needed to do were singing exercises. Even if you just want to improve your speaking voice, the author still asks you to do the singing activities. Interesting but I wasn't sure I was ready to sit in my office singing scales while my wife, the neighbors and the dogs listened from the sidelines. I'm shy!

I eventually put the exercises onto my iPod and practiced them in my truck. I can work through the basic scale exercises in the time it takes me to drive to my gym. Other than the occasional odd look from folks sitting next to me at a stop light, it was easy to do while I drove. I did this roughly 3-5 times a week for most of the summer.

Did it help?

After two weeks of classroom instruction, I would say yes. My speaking voice seems stronger and my voice felt a little tired just one afternoon out of ten days, but never sore or hoarse. I have also noticed some improvement in my singing voice. I can recommend the book and the exercises as being helpful to me.

My training for speaking in the classroom consisted of "Don't mumble and face the children." Considering that presentation is such a large part of our job, might it not make sense for teacher's in training to get some help with their speaking voice? If I had, maybe I wouldn't have suffered through a quarter century of the September Sore Throat Syndrome.

[Image: "Day8-A little Froggy": Flickr: Uploaded on January 8, 2008by John Carleton: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncarleton/2178902878/]

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