Keep cool when an inspectorcalls

28th September 2001 at 01:00
YOUR hands sweat, your voice cracks and trembles.

And it's not 30 misbehaving children causing such anxiety - but the adult sitting behind you writing it all down.

"The voice starts to do funny things under tension," said Lesley Hendy, former university drama lecturer and voice teacher. "And certainly when you have the inspectors in, the tension is greater."

So what do you do when your mouth goes dry?

Mrs Hendy will demonstrate how to keep your voice calm while under pressure at a Professional Association of Teachers' seminar on stress and inspections tomorrow.

Her recommendations include laying off the coffee, which dries the vocal chords, taking three deep breaths to calm yourself... and maybe humming so your voice is ready when you open your mouth. That should go down well with Year 9.

Mrs Hendy said: "When you're stressed, your shoulders are raised, the muscles across your chest tighten, and one thing the voice doesn't like is muscular tension.

"Often the voice will go to make a sound and then cracks, so only half the sound comes out. Your mouth goes dry and the tongue feels heavy.

"Posture is also quite important, you need to stand in a way that does not constrict the voice, with shoulders down, spine straight and knees soft. If you slump, the lungs don't work properly."

Sessions will also look at relaxation exercises and posture - "very important for people who are going to have an inspection", she says.

* COPING with Stress (with particular reference to inspections). The Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Contact PAT 01332 372337. The Voice Care Network is on www.voicecare.org.uk

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