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The Teacher Warm-Up

Why don’t teachers warm up their voices?

Why is it that, as a voice artist, I am told all the time that I have to warm up my voice before I begin recording?

Well, it’s the same reason that athletes warm up before a race. Because if they walked out onto the track without warming up, then they wouldn’t perform as well and wouldn't run as fast. And, in the same way, if I began speaking and performing without warming up, then not only would I not speak and perform as well, but I could even damage my voice, my vocal folds, all the bits inside that you need to speak. Singers are told the same thing. A singer should always warm up. If you go backstage at a concert, you’ll always see (or rather hear) singers doing their lip trills and singing their scales before they go onstage.

So why is it that teachers don’t do this?

To be honest, I really don't know. They should. I'm still a working teacher, but I don't teach large classes of young students anymore. But when I did, I would stand up in front of classes, usually of around 15 students, and talk consistently, coherently and at volume, sometimes for up to 60, maybe even 90 minutes. That's a long time to speak. You try talking consistently, coherently and at volume for 90 minutes! But even when I did this on a daily basis, I never warmed up. In fact, I don't recall a single teacher doing any warm-up exercises at all before class. And when I did teacher training, warming up before lessons was definitely not on the curriculum.

But it should have been!

Anyone who speaks for a living should always warm up their voice before they do their speaking… actors, voice artists, public speakers, teachers, politicians (do politicians warm up before they go and do big speeches? I don’t know any politicians to ask…).

And it doesn't have to be a lengthy, elaborate warmup routine. It can be something nice and simple. My standard warm up now before I do any voice work is a YouTube video, the amazing Nic Redman’s 5 Minute Warm-Up. Before I step in the booth, I put on her video and follow along. If I'm completely honest, I don't always do the entire 5 minutes, maybe just a couple of bits and pieces, but enough to get me warmed up so that I can get in the booth and confidently give a good performance.

Teachers should do the same. And schools should encourage it! All the teachers should gather in the staff room 5 minutes before the first lesson and do one big collective warmup. How awesome would that be? Not only would it get everybody ready to speak for all those lessons, but it would also be an amazing team building exercise, would it not? And for any schools out there… I would be more than happy to go along and lead your teachers in their first warm-up session.

I could become a ‘Warm Up Consultant’.

Now there's a side hustle for you!

Music: Island Dream - Chris Haugen

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