5 Voice Tips for Teachers on Summer Break

The summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere, so many teachers are taking time off to recharge their voices. According to multiple studies, voice disorders are common in about 80% of teachers (Martins et al 2014). That’s a huge amount of individuals who need their voices for their job teaching the thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. How can we keep these vocally athletic teachers in great vocal shape?

What Voice Issues and How are they Treated?

Voice problems might be described as rough/breathy sounding voice quality, vocal fatigue, or throat discomfort, and may require different treatment options depending on what the diagnosis is. Treatment for some voice diagnoses may include medications paired with vocal therapy (like for vocal fatigue, singing difficulties and dry throat) and others require a combination of vocal surgery and voice therapy. Diagnosis from an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) doctor or Laryngologist who specializes in voice is recommended.

Tip #1: Rest Your Voice

There are differences between relative vocal rest and total/strict vocal rest. Relative voice rest may be talking less frequently than usual or even less loudly. Both are good ideas if you feel you’ve been overdoing things. Strict vocal rest would be days of no talking, no throat clearing, no coughing and could be challenging to complete. You can take these types of rest as your schedule allows. Organize your summer by activities that would require planning the amount of vocal use needed and use this brain mapping to begin what you could start for yourself this fall as school begins again.

Tip #2: Increase Your Awareness

Notice how you use your voice. Do you throat clear? Do you cough? Does it vary day to day? Because the most commonly found lesions on the vocal cords of teachers are “phonotraumatic” lesions, they may be influenced by how often you’re using your voice (dosage), or how loudly you’re using your voice (intensity), or a combination of both. Phonotraumatic means that the vocal cords receive trauma from phonating or making sounds/noises and this includes talking and singing.

Tip #3: Consider Respiratory Resistance Training

Using devices like The Breather or EMST 150 can give you some support for your fuel source (your breath) and are easily obtained via Amazon or Aspire. Working out with these on a regimen will make your lungs gain strength and control, and the time spent per day is manageable. You’ll want to make sure your primary care physician or pulmonologist clears this first, as it can aggravate people with certain conditions like COPD, hernia and others. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can also guide you through use of these as part of a treatment plan.

Tip #4: Consider Vocal Function Exercises

A simple series of 4 exercises called Vocal Function Exercises can help improve vocal control, endurance and flexibility are not rocket science, but do require some practice to master. Getting a baseline voice exam is recommended before beginning these to make sure you’re not aggravating any vocal issues that are already present. Once you’ve done that, you can learn how to do them with a speech-language pathologist, or get started here: https://www.atempovoicecenter.com/product-category/voice-therapy-types/vocal-function-exercises/. This blog also gives you a good introduction to these.

Tip #5: See a Speech-Language Pathologist or ENT Who Specializes in Voice

We can provide an exam called videostroboscopy that gives you a bright, crisp view of what your vocal folds are doing when you make sounds (phonate). This can identify potential issues that may be contributing to voice problems (like swelling, or reflux changes). Videostroboscopy exams change a vocal diagnosis 48% of the time after a routine ENT scope (Cohen et al 2015), so make sure you ask for this exam by name. SLPs also provide voice therapy to help complaints specific to you like vocal fatigue and dysphonia.

Summer is a time to reset your mind, relax, and plan for fall. I hope you use these tips to create a wonderful start to keep your main communication tool ready for action as the school year begins.

Read more in these research articles:

  • Martins, R. H., Pereira, E. R., Hidalgo, C. B., & Tavares, E. L. (2014). Voice disorders in teachers. A review. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation28(6), 716–724. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2014.02.008
  • Roy, N., Gray, S. D., Simon, M., Dove, H., Corbin-Lewis, K., & Stemple, J. C. (2001). An evaluation of the effects of two treatment approaches for teachers with voice disorders: a prospective randomized clinical trial. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 44(2), 286–296. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2001/023)
  • Angadi, V., Croake, D., & Stemple, J. (2019). Effects of Vocal Function Exercises: A Systematic Review. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 33(1), 124.e13–124.e34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.08.031
  • Change in diagnosis and treatment following specialty voice evaluation: A national database analysis. Cohen, Seth; Kim, Jaewhan; Roy, Nelson; Wilk, Amber; Thomas, Steven, & Courey, Mark. Laryngoscope, 13 Feb 2015, doi: 10.1002/lary.25192

About the Author: Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She evaluates and rehabilitates voice, upper airway disorders and swallowing at her private practice, ATEMPO Voice Center, and lectures on voice science internationally. She is a classically trained mezzo soprano with a minor in vocal performance from Texas Christian University. She has collaborated on and authored multiple peer reviewed published research articles about her community-based voice specialty clinic. She continues to develop a line of instantly downloadable voice assessment and voice therapy materials on TPT or her ATEMPO voice center website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Instagram or like her on Facebook. Kristie mentors on voice, upper airway, business and private practice through www.atempovoicecenter.com and provides continuing education courses through www.passaggioeducation.com.

DISCLOSURE: Some links within this blog are affiliate and I receive a small commission when you use them. Thanks for supporting me in my endeavors to bring you voice science info in a fun and accessible way.


Follow Us On

We use cookies to personalize out websites of offering to your interests and for meaasurement and analytics purposes. By using our website and products, you agree to our use of cookies