Better training for teachers' most important tool - the voice

WEST CHESTER, PA. (WPVI) -- A teacher's voice may be their most important tool. However, few get training in how to use it and to keep it healthy.

Now, a West Chester University professor is trying to change that.

"Ok, let's go through all the other voice qualities again," says a grad student to a student teacher going through her paces.

It's the last practice for Professor Liz Grillo's vocal training students.

Grad assistants have them switch in & out of 4 speaking voices they've learned. Each has its purpose.

"I would use twang if I was trying to, for example, get the attention of the students," says Hannah Kaptur. "Once I get their attention, this is the voice I use," she adds.

Student teachers are even trained in "healthy" yelling for playgrounds and noisy gyms.

"Eh, Eh Anthony!!!!" Simone belts out.

Grillo says teachers really need voice training in college, but few get it.

"Around 50% of teachers at some point in their career will have a voice problem - 50%, half!!!" she says, wide-eyed.

Some even quit teaching because of it and she says studies show kids learn less when teachers have voice problems.

For her research, and to help teachers do voice-checks outside class, Grillo also developed the VoiceEvalU8 smartphone app.

"Say aaaaahhhhhh," as she demonstrates the app.

Hannah Kaptur says Grillo's techniques really helped during student teaching last fall.

Before the voice training:

"My voice would feel really hoarse, but it would be sometimes even painful to talk," recalls Hannah.

Now:

"By the end of the day, my voice feels just as good as it did in the morning," she says with a big smile

Grillo has trained about 80 student teachers and grad students.

But with the VoiceEvalU8 appapp, she hopes to reach many more teachers.
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