Like the rest of our bodies, our voice gets weaker with age. You might find that singing all day makes you feel croaky and hoarse. And your range might decrease, so you can no longer hit those higher or lower notes.
If singing is your passion, this might not be music to your ears. But the good news is that there are things you can do to protect your voice for longer.
What Happens to Your Vocal Cords as You Age?
Two small muscles support your vocal cords. These muscles push the vocal cords together when you speak or sing to ensure you make a reasonable amount of noise. As you get older, these muscles weaken so that the cords don’t push together as efficiently. And the effort of using them becomes more.
After puberty, you may start noticing changes to your voice in middle age. Around this time, your pitch starts to deepen – this is true no matter what gender you are. This is because your larynx drops lower in your throat, lengthening the vocal tract, which then affects your sound.
In women, menopause changes the voice. The vocal cords become thicker and stiffer, while the throat generally becomes dryer, and mucus builds up more regularly. This makes the voice sound rougher and less polished.
In men, the opposite happens. Their voices become higher pitched as their vocal folds become thinner and stiffer. As the muscles around the throat weaken, there will be more air in their voice, so they sound breathier, and their tone is less controllable.
All older adults can struggle with their voice as they get older, finding it a struggle to speak for long periods of time, although it is rare that it becomes a medical issue. In very extreme cases, even swallowing becomes difficult. So, these steps to protect your vocal cords are not just for singing – they can benefit everyone.
At the same time, you may start to notice your hearing deteriorates. While this isn’t directly connected to your vocal ability, your hearing is important to your tone. At the same time as looking after your throat, you should also be working on protecting your ears. Luckily, some of the best ways to look after your voice are also some of the best ways to look after your whole body – eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep!
How to Keep Your Voice in Good Shape
There are medical interventions to improve your voice if it deteriorates, but you can avoid these procedures by taking good care of your vocal cords now.
The good news is that, just like your other muscles, the more you use your voice, the stronger it becomes. That is why joining a singing group is good exercise for your throat. But even talking, humming, and other vocal activities are enough to strengthen your voice muscles. If you don’t think you do it enough now, then work on increasing the use of your voice.
Start every single day with a vocal warm-up. Yawning (with your mouth closed), sighing, humming, and lip-trilling are all great ways to wake up those cords.
Eight glasses a day is the recommended daily water intake, but singers should aim for slightly more. And if you exercise, you should also replace the water lost through sweat.
Ditch the Cigarettes
This is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health, but especially your voice. Throat, mouth, and lung cancer make singing very difficult and reduce your enjoyment of it.
Reduce Your Units
Alcohol increases the chances of acid reflux, which is very damaging to your throat. It also affects your brain, which plays a big part in your vocal ability.
Exercise Your Brain
Speaking of your brain, it is vital to keep it mentally active to maintain control of your voice no matter how old you get. Puzzles like crosswords, sudokus, and word searches are great fun and keep your grey matter plump.
Keep Medically Aware
If you notice any issues with your voice or hearing, check them out immediately. The sooner any ailments are diagnosed, the more likely it is that you’ll make a full recovery from them.
Ageing is an inevitable process for everyone. Some people seem to follow all the rules and still struggle as they age, while others are more reckless and see no ill result. But if you do the best you can to stay healthy and protect your voice, then you have a greater chance of being able to keep singing well into your later years.
Tags: singing technique
, vocal tips