How Can You Teach if You Can’t Talk?

Well, as I learned yesterday, it isn’t easy.

I’ve been fighting one thing or another (cold, sinus infection, whatever it’s morphed into now) pretty much since Christmas. It started with a tickle in my throat on Christmas morning, which I assumed was a result of my parents’ dry house, and those terrible incense they spread around at Midnight Mass. By that weekend, I had no voice. And by New Year’s, I was sniffling and sneezing. There were a few good days in there somewhere, and then last Monday, the sinus headache creeped in. Tuesday, I felt like death might be a good option. Finally, by Thursday, I thought I was in the clear. Friday, I woke up with a case of laryngitis that was definitely worse than the one I’d been through a few weeks earlier (I still sound like a frog who has spent the last 40 years chain smoking).

Which brings me to my question of the day: how can you teach if you can’t talk?

In another case of “make it work,” I found out yesterday. I was squeaking out little more than a whisper most of Saturday and Sunday, so let’s say that making through one class would have been tough enough. Yet I forced myself to make it through two.

It kind of puts into perspective how difficult it can be to do something that normally comes so easy. It was torture to not only bring the same sense of excitement that I like to bring to my classes. But at the same time, it was so nice to see some of my regulars take charge, help me out with the counts, or demonstrate something as I tried mightily – and unsuccessfully – to vocalize.

The one thing I really feared the most – even more than not being able to get the class to do what I wanted with some hand gestures and a squeak – was that people would leave, or tell me that it was terrible. A couple people left, but I’m used to one or two walking out before the end of class on any given day (heck, half the time I look up from my final stretches at the end of my cycle class, and the studio that had been full 10 minutes earlier is only at quarter-capacity). For the most part, people were very understanding. I got a lot of well-wishes on my way out the door. And though I know that I was certainly up to the standard I’d like to be during class, I was proud of myself for making it through.

My voice, however? I probably did some kind of irreversible damage to my vocal cords by pushing instead of resting them. But as any instructor will tell you – you do what you have to do sometimes!