Perhaps “you are as young as you sound” should get equal billing with “you are as young as you feel.” It’s commonly accepted that a health and exercise regime will help keep the body strong, but let’s think about what singers can do to keep their voices strong and healthy up into their 80s, 90s or even 100s.
It’s generally not the voice that wears out, but the power behind it that diminishes. If we use good support when we sing and exercise the voice-producing mechanisms regularly to prevent them from atrophy, we will be rewarded with a vibrant and resonant voice well into our later years. We can’t stop having birthdays, but we can take steps to keep our voice strong and vital.
Here are some of the things that will protect and preserve the singing voice:
Eat sensibly, get plenty of rest, and keep body, brain, and voice well exercised.
Use Passive Breathing to eliminate neck and shoulder tension when singing.
Use the strong muscles of the lower abdominals to support the voice.
Use a good daily warm up especially when you will be singing.
Keep moisture levels high with plant life, humidifiers, and eight glasses a day.
Be alert for the voice-damaging symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
If you begin to have symptoms of vocal abuse take time off and rest your voice.
Avoid yelling and whispering. They are equally bad for the vocal cords.
Don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake.
One more little thing about aging voices is that you can pretty much count on your voice changing as you age. Not all of these changes are bad. For example you may lose some of your upper range, but you may very well be rewarded with a more resonant voice, especially men.
And, you may find this hard to believe, but it’s not all about the voice. A good voice is a good thing to have, but if you can learn to be more expressive and communicate one-on-one with your audience no matter your age or skill you can still be a successful singer. Think Willie Nelson.
If you take good care of your voice it should last you a lifetime.
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