Find your natural
voice and maintain it!
|Vocal Tip of the Month!
Breathe and Relax!
O.K… I will be the first one to admit
that going back to school was not easy! My students are adorable despite
the usual one or two that require more of my attending but vocally, I still
found myself struggling with a dry throat and a little bit of vocal fatigue
within the end of the first few days back to work. I have to say that I
did not expect that at all coming from my (so I thought) well-educated self
when it comes to using my speaking voice properly. It turns out that
even I have to stop and reassess myself to monitor my speaking voice once in a
while and ensure that I follow all of my own advice. So I asked myself the following fundamental questions:
1) Am I drinking plenty of water? YES!
2) Am I speaking at a low reasonable volume as much as possible? YES!
3) Am I placing my voice in the mask (sinus resonators)? YES!
I couldn't quite pinpoint
what was wrong so I decided to give myself some more time and try to be more
self aware of what I'm doing when I'm addressing my class. Then it
happened; I had a breakthrough! On one odd afternoon, a stressful
situation arose. I might have appeared calm in dealing with the problem
but inside, I felt annoyed and a tiny bit upset. I felt my body tense
from my abdomen to my neck. I stopped and I told myself to just BREATHE
and RELAX! I took a deep breath naturally letting my belly come out and
my larynx and neck loosen up. In a fraction of second, I visualized all
my tension coming out of my body as I exhaled slowly. That is very
important because a lack of control on how the air comes out creates irregular
diaphragmatic rhythmic movements that will in turn tighten the chest, larynx
and jaw. In short, that translates to a lack of support and friction
on the vocal cords. The next word I spoke came out smoothly even though
assertive. My throat hasn't hurt since! Remember: breath is gas for
your engine. Your voice is a vehicle
for your emotions and thoughts. They
work hand in hand together. When one or the other is off, everything else
falls apart. Keep your instrument free of stress by applying consistent
diaphragmatic breathing to avoid strain on the vocal folds.
Demystifying the Diaphragm
"Sing from the diaphragm!" is
something you have probably heard countless times. You might wonder what it means exactly since the vocal cords
are primarily responsible for producing the sound of the voice. So
why don't we hear "sing from the vocal cords!" instead?
Well, I guess that would be a little too obvious! Plus, the opposite (talk or sing without
involving the vocal cords) is practically impossible so it would not make
sense! The point of this expression is rather to remind you to engage the
diaphragm in supporting the voice by regulating the desired air pressure
necessary to speak or sing. The
diaphragm is a flat muscle attached to the bottom front, sides and back of
the lungs. It expands in a dome-like
shape during inhalation and relaxes or shrinks back up during exhalation. To support the voice, it is important to
utilize enough air to project it; this is where singing (or speaking in our
case) from the diaphragm becomes in context. During singing or purposeful
speaking, keep the diaphragm expanded as long as possible by applying a slight
downward pressure and better control how much air is leaving your lungs.
The correct belly sensation in using the diaphragm correctly to support
the voice is the same as in trying to blow candles on a birthday cake.
Except during speech or during a slow breath exhalation, maintain that
same sensation on a smaller scale.
|Inspiring Quotes and Stories...
| Get Active!
A great way to
oxygenate oneself and learn to regulate the breath is to practice sports. Last year, my teacher's aide organized
a Pilates class during lunch for teachers at my school. (Thank you, Karen!) We met once a week
for a 45 minute session. We all loved it! I personally enjoy
exercising every morning before I leave for work. I enjoy my daily
Pilates but I also swim and jog from time to time. Concentrate on your
breathing whenever you exercise. It is recommended to breathe out during
the effort phase of the exercise. If you jog or bike, try to get into a
rhythm and stick to that pattern as long as possible.
Exercising allows for the release of negative energy by letting
go of accumulated stress and replaces it with positive naturally occurring chemicals,
most notably endorphins and norepinephrine. Come on, get moving!
|Question: It would be interesting for French Immersion or Core French teachers to
know some of the call and response sentences you used in French. In my
new role as a Beginning Teacher Coach for FSL programs I would love to
share them with new teachers who need all the help they can get in
establishing good routines. Do you think you could share some of the
sentences with me?
Answer: Here are the ones I use all year long
in my classroom in French:
s.v.p.!/Le RESPECT S.V.P!
-Dans la classe j'écoute le professeur/J'ÉCOUTE LE PROFESSEUR, J'ÉCOUTE
LE PROFESSEUR! (Clap hands on each syllable rhythmically for the response.) I use that one a lot especially when a
rule if broken, always using "Dans la classe, je__________." then
students repeat the last part.
JE LÈVE LA MAIN/JE RESTE ASSIS/JE SUIS GENTIL/JE NE SIFFLE PAS/JE PARLE
DOUCEMENT/J'UTILISE LE BON SENS, etc.
-Un, deux, trois/YEUX SUR TOI
Yourself in the Classroom
- Voice Lessons
I will be accepting
more voice students this term. I am therefore available for one-on-one
consultations at my house for Toronto residents. If you live in a
different part of the globe and still wish to get a voice lesson with me, we
can meet "live" via Skype providing that you have a webcam.
Please contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org