One of my newly acquired friends from BASOTI recently expressed how great her voice has been feeling and sounding since she stopped teaching and started focusing on her own learning and performing. When we caught up with each other over the phone, school had just started and I hadn’t been doing much teaching yet. I could see from strictly logistical and psychological perspectives why the blossoming of her voice would coincide with no longer teaching – she had more time to spend, more mental power to focus with, and fewer distractions. Then I had my first week of teaching, and I understood her situation from a physical perspective: I lecture for a total of four hours each week, and then I have roughly three more hours of individual voice lessons to give. Rationing my voice was going to be critical because all that talking left me almost nothing to sing with.
Ultimately, I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach. Yes, it’s a significant time commitment and has caused me mild bouts of panic, but it’s a benefit rather than a burden. What I have here is a year-long strengthening and conditioning program. I want to be a singer? Well, I’m envisioning a packed schedule with lots of singing, not just a few gigs in between long periods of rest. So this is my time to develop strategies to protect my voice.
A strategy that quickly showed itself to be a necessity after my first two-hour lecture class was to pitch my speaking voice a little higher. I’ve got a nasty habit of using the lower end of my speaking register, which became incredibly painful. Other suggestions my afore-mentioned friend shared with me: be concise in explanations so you’re not speaking more than necessary, and keep modeling to a minimum so you don’t introducing bad habits to yourself. Here’s another one I’ve come up with: get to school early to practice before teaching. This ensures I get at least one solid practice session in. And if I’m good about protecting my voice during the day, I’ll have the ability to squeeze in a second practice later in the evening.
Also, I really need to get to bed at a more reasonable hour. Isn’t the idea of eight full hours of sleep charming and alluring and elusive?