I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I thought it would be nice to share what I like to do to get ready for the next year. Most importantly, I like to make sure I give myself a break. I always manage to find projects that have nothing to do with teaching and music. There is something special with teaching. We are the few professionals that can completely end something, regroup, and start all over again. Taking time to turn teaching off is vital to be able to reflect and grow for future years. Right now, my vegetable garden is my little project, and I’m enjoying spending my time outside and eating what my garden produces. Yep-those are my tomatoes, a black variety that I started by seed! Eventually school will start crossing my mind, until then I will enjoy everything else!
I also like the be mindful of how my body goes from a hermit crab during the summer to an energizer bunny overnight once school starts. I can always feel it in two places, my feet and my voice. You would be surprised how many music teachers have struggled with their speaking and singing voice. 1 in 5 teachers, not just music teachers, will at some point have a vocal disorder. If you haven’t gone through all of that, I hope that this statistic will bring awareness to how important it is to take care of yourself and your voice. The muscles used to sing need to be conditioned just like one might train for a marathon. I’ll be the first to tell you that I have struggled with hoarseness, reduced range and swelling. Although I know many people have it worse than myself, I went through the process of getting a scope done and vocal therapy. Through that process, I learned how important it is to hydrate, pace my voice, use voice amplification, and warm-up. I’m not a vocalist or even a doctor, but I do know that I ended the school year with the range that started with at the beginning of the year.
Over the course of the summer, I will gently warm-up up my voice with various exercises and continue those throughout the year. My normal routine includes singing through a straw and raspberry trills. There is science behind singing through a straw and here a video that demonstrates and explains it all.
I hope that this helps others, but I wanted you to know that if you ever struggle with your voice you aren’t alone. We are very lucky in the triangle because Duke has a fantastic Voice Center that specializes in speaking and singing voices. They have locations in Raleigh and Durham with fantastic doctors and speech pathologists. They taught me so much and helped me gain the confidence I need to move forward.
I hope everyone has a fantastic and relaxing summer. Enjoy the calm before the marathon begins and take care of yourself!