How not to lose your voice as a teacher!

About this time of year lots of teachers start to get husky voices.

And I can tell you – from experience! – that unless you change a few things you *will* lose your voice at some point.

And if you keep going for years there is a fair chance you couldย permanentlyย damage your vocal cords.

Which might be a relief for your students, but not good for your career! ๐Ÿ™‚

A few years ago I went to a specialist and these are some of the techniques they suggested. ย Although of course I’m not a doctor (yet!) so do check with someone qualified if you do have any problems.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Lots and lots of it. ย  If you look at my workshops I have several 2ย literย bottles that I get through in just a few hours.

Similarly cut out coffee. ย Hmmm, I’m not too good on that one!

(Ninja Tip: ย If you have your own school, giving the kids a cup of water at the beginning of each lesson not only helps their voice,ย re-hydrationย also helps their concentration and cognitive power. Forget the downside of needing the bathroom, the upside is worth it!)

2. Steamy, steamy!

Part two of the voice tips seriesโ€ฆ. steam! If you feel your voice getting hoarse, get a humidifier for your room. Or before school in the morning, put a towel over your head and breathe in the steam from a hot bowl of water for 10 minutes. It works!

3. Fat in, thin out

How you breathe makes a huge difference to the damage you cause your voice. ย  The trick with breathing is to make your stomach looks as fat as possible ( quite easy for me) when you breathe in, and make it look as thin as possible ( quite tricky for me!) when you breathe out. โ€œFat in, Thin outโ€ โ€“ right thatโ€™s my breathing exercises for the day!

4. Soundless Breathing

In your break time, try and breathe without making any sound. ย Itโ€™s designed to open up your throat and release stress in your vocal chords. ย This one is quite tricky!

5. My Top Tip: ย A really easy warm up

And finally, the tip I now use before every lesson to relax my voice and not lose it, is to do this simple voice exercise. ย If you only do one thing on the list, this will make the biggest difference. ย It’s for before class, but have a try now, you will be amazed how it changes and relaxes your throat!

I hope these help you out a touch, and of course consult your doctor if anything comes up. ย  For a teacher our voice is the tool of our trade so it really is worth the effort in trying to protect it.

It’s also much better for the kids not having to listen to a creaky voice all day! ๐Ÿ™‚

And please feel free to add your tips and tricks in the comments.

Now I’ve just got to make sure I practice what I preach next week!

Be genki,

Richard

P.S. ย A lot of people have also recommended to do exercise programmes and/or a singing course to really learn how to use your voice. ย I picked up the Brett Manning Singing Course a few years ago, it’s pretty good ย and maybe a nice item to put on your Christmas list? ย Or if you are wanting more exercise then I’d definitely recommend the Insanity Workout Programme – I’m just about to complete week 7!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!

27 Responses to “How not to lose your voice as a teacher!”

  1. Margit

    Having a strong voice and rarely problems with it, I was in huge trouble when it hit me last year around this time.
    It started with a sore throat I ignored and I kept ignoring the scratchy voice in the beginning as it was around Halloween I kept going and going. Ending with a Halloween party and 40 kids and me not able to even peep. It was very very tough!

    And as I had ignored it for so long I was forbidden to even whisper for 1 month and it took about 4 months till I was cured completely.

    So my tip:
    If you have a light cold, or your voice starts to be weak (what happens to everyone once in a time) relax your voice and throat right from the beginning, speak as little as possible.
    If you’ve lost your voice whispering is even worse than speaking ~so you’re out!
    Here I was lucky, as I always teach with gestures, so I was able to continue working!
    And of course the GE software was my best nurse!

  2. Bojana

    OMG! This is amazing! I tried your quick tip and it does relax the throat a lot!
    Thanks for sharing, Richard.

  3. Julia

    Hi Richard!

    If I knew this few things when I was a young specialist, I wouldn’t lose my voice regularly when I was a young teacher!! It was just sheer torture as I felt I had got a sore throat again!

    And then little by little this big problem began to disappear. I think it happened because I started to work with little kids. I had to sing a lot with them and I liked it very much.

    Now I also sing at my lessons, and sometimes when my kids are too noisy I start to sing instructions: “Beee quiii-et!”, “Open yoo-our boo-ooks!”, “Make a biiig ciiir-cle!” ๐Ÿ™‚ This helps to attract their attention to what we have to do.

    Best wishes,
    Julia

  4. Shawn Veltheim

    Losing my voice is a huge problem for me… allergy medicine doesn’t help.

    I love the humidifier idea. (kicking myself for not thinking of it years ago)

    I usually sing warmups in the morning as well, in the shower, and/or while driving actually.

    And when you can’t have coffee cause your voice is on it’s way to being on the fritz… green tea with honey… (or even a spoon full of honey enjoyed as slowly as possible) or mint tea.

    I find that intensity trumps volume any day. I spend at least part of every lesson in “quiet mode” the kids love dropping their voices down and speaking at the tr in a conspiratorial whisper. Rests my voice a bit, and draws the ss in and can really snap their attention to something I want them to pay close attention to. (like final /s/ or the /kt/ pronunciation of ed)

    I also have a whole set of “special” lessons for weeks when I know my voice is on the way out…

  5. Emine

    Honey plenty of honey. A spoon in the morning. And the rest of the day I use honey to sweeten my tea.

  6. Stephen

    When I used to work in elementary schools in Japan, I used to always lose my voice in the first week of April and the week after the Summer vacation. Having a break not really being an option, I used to slog through, but after a week or so, my voice adjusted and I was all set for “genki” English classes. Now if only I had used the above tips, might have saved my voice somewhat. The drinking water tip is definitely a good one!!!

  7. Foster

    Richard is right. Drink a lot of water.
    I have a very poor throat and sometimes I have to clear it a lot, which annoys every listener including me myself. That is just because I often spend a whole day without drinking a drop of water.

    Genki English can save your voice.
    This is not flattering GE. The reason why some teachers suffer from poor voice is that they talk and explain too much in class. While GE is a new way of teaching. Students talk and perform a lot while the teacher is a director and a part of the performer. He doesn’t need to talk and explain much. In this sense, Genki English does serve as a good remedy.

    My last point is, with Genki English, both students and the teacher are exited and happy throughout the process of teaching and learning. When a person is happy, he is unlikely to hurt his throat or feeling.

    Therefore, Drink and be Genki!

  8. tran thi minh nguyet

    Thanks somuch for your useful tips!:D

  9. Sarah

    Hi, Richard,

    Yes, you are right. When I tought primary students, I spoke aloudly, then I can’t speak out later. I have to go to see my doctor, he gave me some medicion and asked me not to speak aloudly. A good advice is to drink more cool water. According to these rules, you will get a good voice.

  10. luis alberto arcila

    Hi Richard , you really are a wizard !! , right now I am suffering with this problem of husky ,cra voice, and students just look at me like waiting what kind of sound I will produce for enjoying it. You ar right , for them it isa relief but not for us .I `ve been dealing with this situation for three weeks and some water is not enough . I really appreciate your tips , thanks a lot

  11. Julie Hayes

    Hi Richard, Iยดm going to try your “rasberry blowing” exercise tip ๐Ÿ™‚
    I`ve had problems with my vocal cords for the past 8 weeks. No medication from my doctor has helped so far, he has now refared me to a speach therapist. The earliest app I could get is in May!!! So Iยดm counting on your rasberry blowing and inhailing tips to get me through my easter workshop next week!
    Oh,how often should I do the exersice ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Richard

    Wow, I didn’t realise just how many of you this affects – do take care!

    @Julie: You can never do it too often, at least every morning for 30 secs to a minute. But you could also do it before each lesson.

    One more tip for those of you who have already lost your voice, eating lots and lots (e.g. a whole of jar!) of honey can help. But of course prevention is always better than the cure!!

  13. Valerie Bastien

    Excellent advise! Never push your voice. Drink plenty of water. Breathe deeply. Slow down your speech. Only address your class when students are ready to learn (completely quiet!).

  14. nefoussi

    THANKS RICHARD FOR YOUR PRECIOUS ADVICE. IT REALLY WORKS THAT’S AMAZING

  15. Susan K

    Thanks for posting this, Richard, as I find it hard to project my voice. I have a naturally quiet voice and had never been in a job where I had to speak loudly until I taught a class of children. Yes, it seems that teachers need voice training techniques as much as singers do! I got a sore throat at first so I used more gestures (and GE songs – thanks for that!).

    I’ll be trying all the tips – exercises, breathing, tea…

  16. marionferguson

    Another good tip, especially for female teachers is to use the lower range of your voice rather than top range. This really saves your voice long term.

  17. Haydee Chavez

    A couple of years back I took a Yoga kids, baby yoga and meditation certification for kids. Ever since I had the idea in my head of giving english classes (20 years ago), I wanted it to be more then just teaching english so I complement what I learned with my english classes. At the beginning of the class I have them drink a glass of water and we do 5 or 6 minutes of brain gym and breathing exercises. I do the Genki English words, we do a 10 minute exercise routine (stretching) and always repeating what we saw in the lesson, we go back and sing the song and play the games. Before finishing the class we do 5 or 8 minutes of meditation. I end with stand up and cheer very loud. It`s not always like this becuase working with kids is unpredictable but it has worked pretty well.

  18. Mina

    Hi,I like your ideas about how to keep our voice ,because it is my problem in my class .My students are boys and I teach in elemantry school.Sometimes I feel that I can not speak .They
    are full of energy and infact I have alot of students . Thank yo
    u so much for all of your articles and …I am so glad that I have you and your website .thank you so much.goodbye

  19. Marie

    Totally EPIC! Thanks Richard. You’re blogs are always a welcome sight in my inbox ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. nigar

    Thank you,Richard.It really helps. You know, I am always afraid of losing voice during the lesson. The children may laugh at your voice) I will try all the possible ways to prevent it ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Elmira

    Thanks Richard !
    I actually I’m with very bad sore throat
    Terrible hearts even my voice is changed
    I’ll try to follow your advice
    Hope it works
    Thanks again !!

  22. Marian

    Hi,
    I do not see the warmup. Could you, please, help?

    Kind regards
    Marian

  23. judy laberteaux

    Thank you very much. I appreciate your thought and Christmas ideas. I have trouble with my voice as a teacher and the advice works like a warning too. Much appreciated! Keep up the good work!

  24. Thanaporn

    WOW! Thank you so much. You are
    wonderful teacher. I will try to do it because I always lost my voice.

  25. Julia

    That’s a precious piece of advice, Richard, thank you so much for your generosity and care. I’ve learnt somewhere as well that drinking water helps even better if it’s warm. It does work with me. I also add a bit of oregano while making my tea – it helps protecting the respiratory system. Take care and thanks again.

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