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How Do You Promote Vocal Safety?

When you’re rehearsing a musical close to performance week, the last thing you want to hear is that one of your students can’t sing. Promoting vocal health in young singers is crucial. Here’s how some teachers do it with their students. You’ll notice they make a lot of the same points, which means they’re important!

Tricia Oliver, Alabama

“To constantly self-check and evaluate. Ask: How can I help them? How can I help my students get better on the stage? Students need to be educated on staying healthy and staying hydrated. Make sure they understand the voice is an instrument they need to take care of. Take every opportunity to talk to them about using their mind, using their body, and make sure they’re doing what they need to do vocally. And also to remember that students not only need the vocal warm up from the music teacher but also a vocal warm up from the drama teacher! Don’t forget to include projection exercises.”

Joanna Fellows, Maryland

“Drink water. Not only encouraging students to drink water but model drinking water. I have a bad habit of drinking a lot of caffeine, but I try hard to drink water in front of my students because it reminds them to drink water too. If you drink a diet coke at rehearsals they’ll think that’s what you do.”

Kellybrooke Brown, Alabama

“Just be quiet. If you’re in the cafeteria and it’s loud, listen instead of talk. You don’t always have to participate in the conversation. Preserve your voice. It’s so important and kids don’t really understand that. Your voice is your instrument and you have to take care of your instrument. Being quiet is number one.”

Rebecca Cates, Kentucky

“Warm up. Just as we do with any exercise involving our bodies we have to warm up. The vocal chords and the voice are no different. We have to make sure our muscles are working appropriately. If we don’t warm up our voices, we will have the same problems. Voices have to be taken care of just as any other part of the body.”

Roxane Caravan, Florida

“My phrase is: ‘Your body is a temple.’ My kids know it; I say it all the time. Stay out of loud places. Don’t eat lunch in the cafeteria. Don’t scream. Eat healthy. Drink nothing but water or herbal tea in the theatre. If you’re in the band you take care of your violin. If you’re in theatre, take care of your whole body. When doing marathon rehearsal weekends, we get parents to rotate and do meals so that no one goes out to get junk food. We make sure the kids eat healthy.”

Lea Marshall, Florida

“Find a good musical director! Find someone who’s knowledgeable and let them tell you what to do. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to delegate.”

Connie Voight, Alabama

“It is exhausting for them. I demand 100% and it can be exhausting. We talk about getting enough sleep, turning down fun things for staying home and getting homework done early. Go to your teachers and say, “I know this is going to be a miserable week. Can I get my assignments early?” That way you’re not stressed during performance week. Stress and weariness go hand in hand and that leads to getting sick. And if you do get sick, stay home.”

Jared Benn, Pennsylvania

“High schoolers aren’t aware of the taxing nature of performance. Use and abuse of the voice. What I preach as a requirement to be in my shows is preventive care. Drink water, get sleep, no screaming, wear a coat when it’s cold outside. It sounds elementary to adults, but to kids (who are willing to run around outside in the winter in their bare feet because they’ve just been at rehearsal) those reminders are very useful. There are things you can do that you’re in control of to help maintain your voice, to make sure you have the stamina to get through a whole show, rehearsal process, year. Yes there are things we can’t control, but let’s concentrate on the things that we can do to avoid putting ourselves in vocally vulnerable positions.”

Click here for a “Keep Your Voice Safe” PDF to hang in your class or hand out to your students!
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