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How to project my voice as a Drama Teacher?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by ctaylor-gallop, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. ctaylor-gallop

    ctaylor-gallop New commenter

    Hi all,

    I have just started my ITT as a Drama Teacher and although it is still very early days and my training is only just getting started, I'm having big issues getting my voice heard in lessons.

    I have a naturally husky voice and although I can speak loudly, my tone of voice just gets lost when my students are making a significant amount of noise.

    It's not really about behaviour management but more grabbing the attention back quickly during group or whole class tasks. I just don't think my voice is 'strong'.

    I wondered if anyone can share advice on projection or other techniques they have used?

    I would be very grateful.
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Do you have to use your voice to attract their attention back? Voice competing with voices is always going to be hard - maybe a bell or some sound will cut across the hubbub better.
    Happyregardless and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  3. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    The best way to get projection is to change how you breathe i.e. make your breathing diaphragm controlled rather than chest controlled. If you go and speak to your music colleagues (either in school or at your university) they are likely to have techniques to help this based on teaching pupils how to sing
    Happyregardless and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    You might try gesture instead. Train the class that when you raise your right hand and stand still, they must imitate that and face you in silence as soon as they see it, or they see anyone else doing it.
    Lara mfl 05 and ViolaClef like this.
  5. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I imagine that how to use your voice effectively has been part of your Drama training. For gaining a class’s attention, a gesture is a good idea. Music teachers sometimes use a chord on a piano.
    There may be some helpful ideas on this website: www.vocalzone.com
    Happyregardless and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    All of the above are good ideas. However, also think about getting a microphone. The school should have one - ask the music department. I have no problems projecting - I'm the only teacher at my school who doesn't need a microphone during whole school assemblies - yet I use one when I do lessons in the auditorium as I know from both my mother and my wife's experience how crippiling voice-loss and laryngistis can be. As well as helping preserve your voice, there is a sense of authority attached in modern culture to a person with a microphone. I know you said this isn't about behaviour management, but in my experience students generally respond quicker to an electronically amplified instruction than to a shouted one, even when there is no difference in volume.
    Happyregardless likes this.
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree theer are ways to learn how to project your voice.
    However the first lesson in every drama lesson was always, "This is how I want to draw your attention to listen to me. I will clap my hands and the hold up one hand. I expect everyone to respond within xxx secs and we will practice several times during this lesson until we get that time down."
    I would also explain how this was necessary as there could be an emergency, and I related the story of one where I did have one and needed to stop the class immediately o get treatment to a child and it was vitally important nobody moved.
    If after a few weeks they were getting slower responding we'd do more repeat exercises. They soon catch on when they want to get on with the lesson. ;)

    Fits in perfectly with the ethos of drama, by using gesture and sets the tone of your lesson as well as ensuring you save your voice.
    Dodros, Happyregardless and ViolaClef like this.
  8. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    speaking as a gobby ( garrulous?) woman who loves to talk, sing and use my voice lol:D

    singing helps - as someone already put diaphragmatic breathing helps - I'm not suggest singing in front of students (although I also do this!) but if will give you more control of your voice and especially range, whatever your tone is like

    Use symbols, counting down, hand up, bells whistles, sirens ( kidding!)

    humour - I use a range of different sing - songy/different voices - I vary tone and pitch a lot - but I'm Primary and they already think I'm nuts but it seems to work if you are not afraid to make a fool of yourself and use humour!

    movement and sound - use your drama skills to combine body language and talk - think about how actors move around a stage when delivering lines. It forces pupils to changed their point of focus.

    As someone has already said, microphones would be great for all teachers to save our voices, yes and when teaching online in addition to 'normal' teaching, I've used a toy, prop microphone which acts as a focal point even when it doesn't actually work as a microphone but plays random tunes! :D

    catch them being good - silence sometimes works a treat - hand signal and then praising, rewarding with house points ( or whatever) or writing down the first who respond - I think it's called 'the ripple effect'

    keep your instructional voice quiet where possible - it sounds counter productive but I have seem very softly spoken teachers make pupils listen because they HAVE to quiet down to hear them ( ALWAYS partnered with loud, deep teacher voice when needed!)
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'll testify to this. Two of the teachers I taught alongside with the best classroom discipline had very soft voices and consequently quiet classes.

    When I started teaching, having a naturally loud voice (I'd done a lot of drama and naturally projected my voice) I knew no matter how loud a class, a 'bellow' from me would be louder. When I learnt to use that and then use the shock tactics caused by it, to immediately reduce my voice level, where students had to strain to hear, I found it a remarkably useful tool. A quick 'loud' followed straight away in the silence by soft also causes less strain on one's vocal cords. But even mor effective is not to use 'loud' at all but gestures followed by the soft to issue instructions.
    As I progressed in my career I noticed that loud teachers tend to produce louder classes, with the reverse being true.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
    Dodros likes this.
  10. molly-pearce

    molly-pearce New commenter

    I use clap once if you can hear me, (class clap) clap twice if you can hear me (class clap twice) to bring students to attention. It still requires you to project your voice but once the class gets used to this as a routine then only the students closest to you need to hear it and will clap and the rest pick up on this and follow suit.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  11. speechcompanyinfo

    speechcompanyinfo New commenter

    I used to use a tambourine and only stop shaking it when the children were completely quiet and ready to get on task. And then a whistle meant FREEZE !.

    Have you thought about going to YouTube and looking at voice coach "Patsy Rodenburg" and all her work. Her book "The Right to Speak" is a great voice book and if you want to go on her voice workshops, then I can highly recommend them. She really is good. I used to go regularly when I lived in London.
    Another fantastic voice coach, (and friend of mine from way back) is Yvonne Morley. She works with people on an individual basis, when she's not doing RSC work, and it would be money well spent to see if you can attend a private coach session with her. She may well offer voice coaching via the Royal Shakespeare company education dept.
    Good luck - something that starts out as a set back, might end up really positive, as you learn about the fascinating subject of VOICE.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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