Vocal Care as an Online Teacher

10 Tips to Keep Your Voice Strong & Healthy

{This post contains affiliate links}


Taking care of your voice is absolutely essential to teachers – especially if you are teaching remotely.  Your job depends on your voice working well, and carrying clearly through your microphone to your students.

WHERE CAN I START?

Thanks to a few articles I read (links below), and a conversation with vocalist & VIPKid Teacher Devin (@vipkidguy), I’ve got lots of great info for you.

Tips 1-10

DRINK WATER.

Seriously.  It’s that important. I could probably end this article right here.

 *  * *  * *

But I won’t.  Okay, here we go:

1. Drink water

This is truly the number one tip. Hydration is completely important!  For your vocal cords to be healthy, you need to be healthy.
Room temperature water is better than iced or heated drinks. It won’t shock your vocal cords.

“But Marilyn, how much water should I drink?  Can you tell me exactly how many bottles to fill?  How many mLs? How many gallons? Okay, this may be TMI for some, but the right amount of water for YOU depends upon YOU.  Look at the color of your pee. If it’s pale yellow, you’re hydrated. If it’s clear, you can back off a bit. If it’s dark, drink more.  Really, that’s it. Your body has some really amazing systems in place to let you know what to do.
Another way to hydrate is by using a humidifier.  You might consider investing in one, or at the very least, breathe deeply in your hot shower!

2. Avoid caffeine/alcohol

I know, I know – I love both of these myself. But if I am planning several classes back to back, it’s important to be mindful of how much of either of these you are consuming. They are both going to dehydrate you, and possibly irritate the lining in your throat.

3. Dairy is a NO NO

But why?? Well, if your body is sensitive to dairy (or any particular food!), you should avoid it for the same reasons you would in other situations.

More specifically, the fat content in dairy can produce thicker mucous (that stuff that is already in your airway) – which makes your voice sound froggy, and causes you to clear your throat more. You can avoid this by adjusting the fat content in the dairy you consume – or waiting until after teaching to have it.

(Personally, I don’t have issue with this because I process dairy just fine. But if you don’t feel well when you eat dairy, expect it to affect your voice as well.)

4. Warm up

Your vocal cords are muscles!  The vocal cords are two strips of muscles in the voice box that are covered by a lining. Air from the lungs causes a wave on the lining of these cords, which creates sound. They aren’t meant to be worked hard without warming them up and taking time to cool down and rest. Hum, do “lip trills,” or sing a few easy bars of a song before you teach. After teaching, cool down by doing the same types of vocal exercises.
* Check the resources below for my go-to YouTuber for more formal vocal exercises.

5. Pay attention

If you notice your voice is raspy or you’re clearing your voice for a prolonged period of time, you should see a doctor or ENT. You know your own voice – don’t push through when it’s an ongoing problem.

6. Don’t whisper!

Whispering is the hardest strain you can put on your voice. If you lose your voice, you should never EVER whisper! It is worse than speaking loudly or screaming.
When people try to talk or whisper through the hoarseness, they actually cause more damage. Most people push their vocal cords together more tightly to create a whisper sound – this is more strenuous than regular speaking!
If you don’t believe me, read about it yourself!

7. Find soothing remedies

  • I love hot tea! Throat Coat tea is my go-to. There are different brands, but the Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals is my personal fave. They’re awesome because the warmth has immediate effects, and drinking tea has lasting effects because of the ingredients. (Obviously, if you drink caffeinated tea, it may not be as helpful – see #2)
  • You can add honey to your tea – honey is a great way to soothe your throat. Vocal Eze is now selling Manuka Honey Sticks!
  • Vocal Eze throat spray is a helpful item! I was sent a bottle of this to sample, and it has similar ingredients #sponsored #ad

    The common ingredients in these two examples are:
    • Licorice root – anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant
    • Echinacea root – immune stimulant, activates saliva = keeps throat lubricated
    • Marshmallow root – helps remove mucus from the lungs, soothes and relaxes airways

8. Go to SLEEP!

Seriously, just like all of your muscles, sleep is restorative to your vocal cords. It’s a necessary part of our lives, so don’t think you can go night after night of bad sleep habits without it taking a toll on your voice

9. Eat a lozenge or hard candy

So, my grandma (I call her Nanay) always had hard candy in a pretty jar in her house, and another pack of them in her purse. Always. And now I’m learning to be like her. Lol! 
I received the Vocal Eze Throat Saver Kit, and this comes with the throat spray I mentioned above, as well as their Manuka honey (imported from New Zealand!) Throat Drops. It’s such a steal at $24.99 for both of the products. Strawberry is my favorite flavor! They’re so good. They taste really yummy, they have natural ingredients, and I love how long each one lasts. They actually have long lasting effects, and the Manuka honey is truly so soothing. They’re way better than a cough drop, as some cough drop ingredients may dry your throat out more (they’re designed to – so just look at the ingredients).
* Click here to just buy the Vocal Eze Throat Drops

10. Stay healthy!

Really though, your overall health is going to affect your voice as much as it affects the rest of you.  Think about it: when you eat balanced foods, in moderation, include movement in your routine, and maintain your mental and emotional health, it affects every part of your life!  Your voice is no exception.

  • For example, the more I find ways to move that I love (that would be Zumba for me!), or even just park at the far end of the parking lot, I find that I drink way more water throughout the day.
  • Or when I am listening to my hunger and satiety cues, I am also more in tune with my thirst, and actually crave water throughout the day!
  • Don’t smoke – this will affect your vocal cords directly.
  • Also, good hygiene will prevent you from catching colds, etc. that may affect your voice.

WHAT IF I’VE ALREADY STARTED TO LOSE MY VOICE? HALP!

  1. Do all of the above, AND
  2. Gargle with salt water
    * ¼ tsp salt and ½ cup warm water
    * This is a soothing home remedy that is recommended for decreasing inflammation
  3. Consider using a Neti pot to clear out your sinuses and drain all that gunk out
    * It’s weird. I describe it to people like – I feel like I’m rinsing my brain, and the gunk is pouring out through my nostril. I have come to like using it when I need to, but a lot of people I know absolutely hate this experience. It’s totally up to you!
    * This is similar to #2 in that it will decrease inflammation – in your sinuses
  4. Move your microphone closer to your mouth to pick up what voice you’ve got
    * If you have to teach, and are able to talk, be gentle with yourself!
    * And don’t forget to let the parents know in your feedback that you are speaking softly because you’re sick or losing your voice. Honesty is always the best policy, and parents appreciate when you communicate what is going on.
  5. Reserve your voice for when you really need it!
    * When I lost my voice, I literally did not speak for three days.  I used TPR and a lot of signaling with my own kids at home. I needed to let my body heal without making it worse.
  6. Be gentle when you warm up
    * Speak or hum in a low register, and use “lip trills,” which are like raspberries as you hum a tune.
    * I know I said to rest and not speak at all… but when you’re ready, VERY GENTLY make low noises. Remember, the vocal cords are muscles, so they need to be gently stretched back out as you recover. Think about how you would stretch a leg muscle as you recover from an injury – not too much at first, just let your own body be your guide!
  7. Take an over the counter pain reliever for a bit of relief, and to decrease swelling
    * Be really careful of this one – often when pain is relieved, we have a tendency to invite more injury, so continue to be gentle, even when you feel better.
    * I personally prefer ibuprofen, as that reduces swelling/inflammation, but this is simply a preference!

Okay y’all – that’s all I’ve got so far.

Leave a comment if I left anything out – I would be more than happy to edit and add more tips!  Let me know if any of this helped you out.


RESOURCES

Article:  “How to Prevent Hoarseness (Dysphonia)” from ENThealth.org
Link:  VocalEze – Amazing product with instant results – throat spray and throat lozenges
YouTube Channel: Jeff Rolka I love his warm-up videos – they are sorted by range and I use these when I sing, and recently started using them before teaching!

* Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea Ingredients: Organic licorice root 760 mg, Organic slippery elm bark [USP] 80 mg, Organic licorice root dry aqueous extract 60 mg, Organic marshmallow root [PhEur] 60 mg, Proprietary Blend: 1040 mg, Organic wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina), Organic bitter fennel fruit, Organic Saigon cinnamon bark, Organic sweet orange peel
* Vocal Eze Throat Spray Ingredients: Marshmallow root, Licorice root, Honey/Propolis, Echinacea, Osha Root, Aloe Vera, Ginger root and Veg. Glycerin.* Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea Ingredients: Organic licorice root 760 mg, Organic slippery elm bark [USP] 80 mg, Organic licorice root dry aqueous extract 60 mg, Organic marshmallow root [PhEur] 60 mg, Proprietary Blend: 1040 mg, Organic wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina), Organic bitter fennel fruit, Organic Saigon cinnamon bark, Organic sweet orange peel
* Vocal Eze Throat Drops Ingredients: Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Manuka Honey UMF10+, Bee Propolis

2 thoughts on “Vocal Care as an Online Teacher

Comments are closed.