Are You a Professional Voice User?

man-with-a-megaphone-1-1412327This past week, my Pilates instructor and I were talking after class and she was telling me about how her voice is sometimes really tired or hoarse by the end of a day of teaching.

I told her she might want to consider singing lessons.

Actually, I tell a lot of people who teach that.

Teachers/instructors fall into the category of professional (or occupational) voice users.

An occupational or professional voice user is anyone whose voice is essential to their job.
American Academy of Otolaryngology

Vocalists, actors, radio hosts, salespeople, professors, coaches, attorneys, receptionists and telemarketers can all be considered professional voice users.

Folks who talk for most of their days can experience hoarseness, throat/neck discomfort and dry mouth, particularly if all this voice use takes place in noisy environments.

Learning some simple vocal warmups to turn on breath support and improve resonance can help prevent or ease vocal fatigue and make a long day of talking easier and more effective.

I encourage my voice students to use what I call their “radio voice.” I ask them to imagine that they are the host of a 3am easy listening or smooth jazz station. The voice should be round and warm, but with no particular effort to make it loud.

When working in large groups, instead of raising your voice to be heard, teach participants to listen to you and gain their attention in other ways. Try prompts like “Clap once if you can hear my voice.” or “Put your hand on your head if you can hear my voice.” Another thing that can be remarkably effective (depending on the ages of the participants) is waiting silently.

To help with dry mouth and fatigue, drink plenty of water throughout your talking/singing day. The vocal mechanism works best when it’s hydrated; non-mentholated lozenges or hard candy can stimulate saliva and help the voice feel lubricated.

Make time to relax your voice during your day. Toning gently on a a lip trill (i.e. making a motor boat sound by buzzing the lips) can act like a massage for the vocal folds/chords.

Finally, plan mini-rests for your voice. Find 30 – 60 seconds between calls, classes or sessions to sit silently and rest your voice.

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