The Newsletter
 April 1st, 2008                                                                  Find your natural dynamic speaking voice and maintain it!
Vocal Tip of the Month!
Silence is Golden!

The fact that silence is needed to promote healthy vocal habits is not a paradox. Where there is noise, there should be silence and vice versa.  Balance between noise and silence should make for an important part of your teaching strategies or singing behaviour, up to various degrees.  

For example, as much as we tend to encourage students to freely express themselves, they must also be aware of when it is or isn't acceptable.  That seems pretty obvious even though we tend to forget from time to time.  Most importantly, we neglect to teach students how to do exactly that.  Purposeful silence is a skill that must be taught with self-control in the same way kids develop their language skills.  Demand complete silence when you or another student is addressing the class.  Do not tolerate any noise whatsoever coming from pencils, erasers, balancing chairs, moving hands and legs, chatting students, etc.  Being strict about it pays off in the long run by increasing student's ability to concentrate, assimilate new knowledge, better focus on the activity at hand and preventing you from raising the volume of your voice unnecessarily.  

If you lost your voice after a cold or misusing your voice and suffer from vocal fatigue, the most effective remedy might just be to observe a full day of silence to allow your vocal cords to rest.  Carry a notebook around with you to communicate your needs to your family and friends instead of speaking them out as usual.  Again, it's all about balance, here going from an extreme to the other.  Many professional singers do stop talking completely as a preventive measure on the day of a performance or after a show if they feel tired.   It can be a very effective way to recharge your vocal batteries.  If you are experiencing vocal fatigue on a regular basis, take the time to look into proper vocal placement or other possible reasons for the fatigue.  Otherwise further health complications might ensue.  So in other words, silence should compliment your vocal routine without being viewed as a quick band-aid solution!

I will tell you more about how to teach students silence, self-control and correct vocal placement in my upcoming book.  Stay tuned!
Interesting Facts

Classroom noise usually measures at around 85 dB while around 30 dB is recommended for a positive working environment. Insulating your classroom to diminish noise reverberation can make a difference in your student's ability to concentrate, hear what you say and in how loud you have to speak to be heard over the class.  Here is how you can do that:

1)  Use tennis balls or felt pads on chair legs.
2)  Create more than one carpet area in your classroom.
3)  If the opportunity presents itself, opt for draperies instead of blinds for window covering treatments.  
4)  Add cork bulletin walls to your classroom.
5)  Display student work on your wall.


What's Happening?
Celebrate the 13th
 on April 16, 2008!  Discuss with your students why silence is important in a classroom environment.  Encourage them to write a journal entry on how silence affect their lives or encourage them to create posters on noise pollution and on how it can be prevented.  Another idea would be to measure noise levels in different areas of your school.  

Join thousands of schools in promoting noise awareness by observing a full minute of silence between 2:15 and 2:16 p.m. regardless of your location on April 16th, 2008.  Make sure to tell your principal and other teachers at your school about the event to get as many students and staff involved as possible!  Visit The League for the Hard of Hearing website for more details.
Relevant Links

Voice Yourself in the Classroom

Valerie Bastien

The Voice Connection
Inspiring Quotes and Stories...
Why not use a quiet time as an opportunity to reflect and meditate on a said subject?  When my students are overexcited after recess or if I want to encourage them to concentrate before a class presentation, I lead them in an impromptu meditation.  I invite them to close their eyes and to visualise different scenarios that I feel might be helpful to their needs at that specific moment in time.  It lasts about 3 minutes and it is followed by a group sharing of what they imagined while their eyes were closed.  It gives them great self-confidence and allows them to refresh their mind to get ready to work.  They don't know that they are actually meditating so any preconceived ideas about meditation are avoided.  It's just a way to rest and calm down to gather positive energy before putting further efforts forward.  The same strategies can be applied to silently rehearse a song, manage stress and emotional turmoil, find solutions to problems or simply to rejuvenate oneself quickly.  Have a happy quiet time now! 
Things to Note
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Have a wonderful month!

-Valerie Bastien