Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dead dog tired already!

Man, it's only the first day of classes for me and I've only taught two classes so far today (another in 15 minutes) and I'm already worn out! And since I haven't been teaching for six months, my vocal chords are out of shape and I'm already losing my voice. On the first day. After two classes. How lame is that?

So anyway, I'm so excited that people are saying interesting stuff in the comments on the two posts below -- and talking to each other! yay! -- but my day o' teaching has kept me from having time to comment thoughtfully myself. Don't worry, I'll get to it!


HeoCwaeth said...

Blogger ate my first attempt at this post. But I can't take a hint, so there!

And since I haven't been teaching for six months, my vocal chords are out of shape and I'm already losing my voice. On the first day. After two classes. How lame is that?

Unsolicited advice from an erstwhile vocal student: Your voice should not be leaving you after one day. That it is suggests to me that you're either not speaking in your natural register, or you're not utilizing proper breath control. I assume it's the latter, since that's what gets most people.

So, the basics:
- Breathe in through your nose; a short, sharp breath should do it.

- While inhaling, your abdomen should distend slightly and your shoulders remain steady. You can practice this at home by lying on the floor with a large book (or a small child, for that matter. About 20-25 lbs of well-dispersed weight) on your abdomen. As you inhale, the book (child, bag of rice) should be raised markedly.

- Paradoxically, the more air you release while speaking the less volume you will get (think Marilyn Monroe here). So, you want to conserve your air as you speak. You can develop this skill by practicing speaking with a burning candle 3-4 inches away from your mouth. If the candle goes out as you speak, you're using more air than you need, and sacrificing vocal power.

- You want to keep your abdominal muscles taut to support your diaphragm and control your airflow as you speak. You're not pulling air from the top of your lungs as you speak, but rather pushing it from the bottom.

At first, it may help to emulate the tone you take when seriously peeved. Drop the pitch of your voice slightly, tense up your abdomen a little, and speak firmly. This should give you the ability to reach the back of the hall for ages, without straining your voice.

Dr. Lisa said...

Great advice!

Mine was going to be to have a nice warm cup of something and put your feet up for a bit!!!

Dr. Virago said...

Wow, the things one learns when one has a blog! :)

Thanks both of you for the advice. I'm drinking my white tea right now, Lisa. And HeoCwaeth, I'm going to start putting your advice into practice. I think I probably don't use my breath well, partly because on the first day especially I'm a little nervous. Today, in fact, I was especially nervous since I felt out of practice. (Thank god for all the familiar faces in my classes!)

I also think I might be coming down with a little something (no! can't happen! no time!) which probably didn't help.

But I bet improper breath control is the real culprit. So thanks!

And btw, Blogger ate a comment I made at Lecturess's, too -- or at least wouldn't publish it. Hmmm...Maybe the start of the school year means more traffic on Blogger.

Dr. Virago said...

Er, start of the semester. And obviously, non-academics use Blogger, too, but lots and lots of college students with free cable modems probably do, as well.

Bardiac said...

I always get a little hoarse on the first day of classes or first week after the summer break. I think it's a combination of nerves and excitement and probably thta making me use my voice less well.

But also, the first couple of days, I just talk WAY more than any other time in the semester.

Have you tried hot lemonade? It's my favorite for hoarseness times.