Our voices are distinct and special. We have different or distinctive voices due to our physical characteristics. We can produce voice because we can take air into our lungs and push it out as it travels through our throats past our vocal folds, which determines the pitch of our voice. This occurs depending on the thickness of the vocal folds and the force of the air pushing them open from the lungs. The sound is then shaped by the placement of our articulators to produce phonemes and words.
Voice is divided into three characteristics: 1. Pitch is the frequency at which the vocal fold vibrates and determines how or low is voices sound, 2. Loudness is how soft or loud we speak and 3. Quality of our voice is how smooth or rough we sound. There are many voice disorders but the most common kind we see in a school setting relates to vocal abuse that is often related to employing a loud volume which will influence the quality of the voice, e.g., hoarseness. When a child is hoarse they may develop vocal nodules and it is important to be seen by an ENT doctor who can write a prescription for voice therapy and rule out any pathology that cannot be corrected by voice therapy. Improper breath support or nasal drips can also increase the chance of developing vocal nodules that influence the voice. Therefore, it important to eliminate post-nasal drips and control loudness levels and utilized good vocal hygiene.Vocal Hygiene Rules1. Avoid shouting, screaming, cheering and excessive loud laughing.2. Cough, clear throat, or sneeze only when you must, and then do it gently and easily.3. Do not make strange noises with your voice, e.g., reverse.4. Avoid talking in noisy places such as the gym, at recess or when listening to loud music, during sports activities or concerts.5. Avoid talking when you have an upper respiratory infection, especially if your throat is sore.
Activities to Discriminate a Clear Voice and Inadequate (Cloudy) Voice and Ways to Improve Voice
- Listen to tapes or watch a movie and have your child identify clear voices and cloudy voices. Ask your child what makes the voice they identified as inadequate and the situation that may trigger poor vocal hygiene.
- Make a coloring book of times when one may not use his/her voice properly, e.g., shouting, coughing, clearing throat, cheering or too much talking. You may also gather pictures of things that make noise such as airplanes, trains, trucks, motor- boats or musical instructions like drums.
- Chart periods of vocal abuse in hopes of increasing your child’s awareness of the number of times of day he/she improperly uses his/her voice. This may help in heightening your child’s awareness and may decrease the number of vocal abuse.
- Practice using other ways of getting attention in noisy places. One can tap another person, clap hands, or whistle.
Methods to Develop a Clear Voice
- Allow child to listen to best voice and explain that we are going to use that voice All the Time. Remember to sit up straight.
2. Climb the ladder each time the child uses a clear voice and reward him/her when you reach the top of the ladder.
3. Practice using easy phonation. First, pretend you are sleepy and yawn and then release air and sigh. Next, practice yawning and sighing while saying /ah/ on the sigh.
4.Practice yawn-sigh while saying /h/ with open vowels, e.g., hat,
hot, hatch, etc.
5. Practice good breath support
a. Play Wind Hockey-cut up small pieces of tissues and place on the table. Use straws to blow the tissues from one end to the other end of a small table.
b. Practice blowing and moving a pinwheel.