Jump to content

Aging Voices: When is the party over?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I think there are a large number of variables involved. If we are looking at it purely from a muscles point of view, then the analogy of a powerlifter or gymnast might be appropriate. The powerlifter who has been strong all his life, will of course get weaker as he ages, but the ones who still train hard are still damn strong, up till their last breath. Similarly gymnasts, who continue to train and stay strong and flexible, can continue their sport a long way. Now, of course neither is going to break records once they are past their ultimate primes, but singing is not all about strength or agility....

So the singer who trains regularly and wisely, and keeps his instrument healthy, I think can sing indefinitely. In fact, age brings about a new tonal characteristic, which if accepted and embraced, can become a new artistic dimension for the singer in question.

One only needs to look at singers such as Dio (RIP), Rob Halford, Eric Adams, Ted Neeley etc (forgive my leaning towards rock/metal guys here) to see that aging singers can still sing extremely powerfully, and with amazing ranges at their ages (late 50's - late 60's).

Of course it's quite subjective. Some people can't accept the natural change age brings about in a voice. I often hear complaints that Elton John should hang it up because he sings Rocket Man like, 5 octaves lower than he used to (that's a joke btw :P...) Or other singers who sing their material in the same key they used to, but sound a little thicker... a little older, also cop a similar criticism (e.g. John Fogarty).

I don't think there is any time to hang it up. Only if you don't love doing it anymore....which will show in your performance. Otherwise I'd say it's all down to regular maintenance, and embracing the growing/aging voice, and accepting its new qualities, as opposed to any perceived limitations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With proper technique and maintenence of it, and as long as your vocal health isnt directly affected, 70 years is quite reasonable, but there are many examples of 80 years old singers that are still very skilled, flexible AND powerfull live. lol klaus meine and bruce dickinson seem to just improve over time...

Age is not a factor if trainning is not overlooked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the thing is, its not about working your voice when you get old, its the entire body. biggest reason why singers lose their voice when they get old is their body failing.

so if you keep your body in shape your voice will last, but if you slack on that lungcapacity and overall health lowers, just go figure what happens to your voice :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the thing is, its not about working your voice when you get old, its the entire body. biggest reason why singers lose their voice when they get old is their body failing.

so if you keep your body in shape your voice will last, but if you slack on that lungcapacity and overall health lowers, just go figure what happens to your voice :)

Great point. Overall health and maintenance is very important, even for vocal care.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daniel. I'm not sure I know. Nimrod Workman was born in 1895 and died in 1994. At the ripe old age of 99. And he performed pretty much up till the end. So maybe not 90 or any other number. Maybe when people stop coming around to hear you. Maybe when you're bored. Some crash and burn early. Some seem to gig for 40 years or more. Think Rolling Stones and Grand Funk Railroad. What are these guys doing right?

BTW I couldn't find a video off my favorite Nimrod song, but it's worth looking up: "Oh, Death"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MDEW - Making music is a privelege that we can choose to begin whenever we wish. There's never a "too early " or a "too late;" there's only "when I'm ready." And remember: to Nimrod who performed and recorded almost 50 years after he was your age, you are a young whippersnapper! Everyone has their own timeable. Trust yours.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I have been singing since childhood and am now 55. It was only a year ago I started to try and improve and learn more. So I guess it's like I have been running while young and now at an older age I'm attempting to run faster! Just like I never take elevators or escalators; I only use stairs. If you don't think about age, is it really there?

I would say, just stay aware of your limitations and don't try to be a show off ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Tommy. I ain't thinking about it. Stop when you can't sing anymore. And that has nothing to do with range. A few singers are still singing, not having the range they had decades ago. So, keep singing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I agree with all of these athletic analogies. Singing is a physical activity but it's not THAT physical. Maybe somebody in their 20's and in great shape would be ideally suited to win a contest for the world record of who can sing the highest amount of decibels or who can hold a note for the longest amount of time. But that's not really what we're thinking of when we think of singing.

Sure, when you reach 85, 90, 100, or whenever, you may become weak enough that singing well becomes too physical. But if there is gradual natural deterioration due to aging, I think on the whole it's drastically overshadowed by the technical and artistic improvements that one gains with experience.

Now the thing is that when you sing professionally and tour for years on end like Elton John, that is a lot like playing professional sports. It will, most likely, have some wear and tear on your voice even if you have good technique. Singers with impeccable technique, discipline, and probably some genetic factors involved there as well, can minimize this wear and tear. But realistically even if you have great technique, the temptation to live like a rock star and not get 8 hours of sleep every night is going to be pretty high when you're on tour.

Steven Tyler still sings like he does with the help of a world class vocal surgeon. He's done considerable damage from all of that touring and probably made considerably worse by years of drug abuse. I suspect that the surgeon could probably help a lot of people regain much of their original range. But they probably don't want to do the surgery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sing until you can't sing anymore!

It's not unusual to hear about people "singing in their grave".

Even death can't stop you from singing....:lol:

Shirley Bassey was 60 when she sang "History Repeating" with the Propellerheads.

Tom Jones is 72 and still singing...

A quick bit of TV trivia. If you've ever seen "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", you might know

the "Cartlon Dance" episode. It used the same Tom Jones song.....LOL......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I agree with all of these athletic analogies.

I read this when I came home last night and briefly went through the earlier posts. I had to go to bed so didn't have time to comment. This morning I am looking through the posts again and I can't find any sports/athletic comments/analogies. (??)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read this when I came home last night and briefly went through the earlier posts. I had to go to bed so didn't have time to comment. This morning I am looking through the posts again and I can't find any sports/athletic comments/analogies. (??)

Tommy, I suppose mine was the reference to aethletics..... although I was really making the point of strength, which I believe you, as a former powerlifter (I think I read you mention it sometime) can relate to.

My point was, that as you get older, you inevitably lose strength, but if you choose to still train consistently, and look after yourself, you will retain much of it (assuming injuries aren't already an issue).

I think this IS relevant, though how much, is dependent on the style of singing involved. Ok, laid back crooning, light pop, jazz etc place far less demands on the voice, and the outright strength involved isn't as much as for heavy rock/metal type signing, or other extreme styles.

I'm not suggesting the purely physical side (the health of ones tissues and the strength of the muscles involved in the singing process) of singing is any more or less important than the technical, artistic or aesthetic elements. It's a whole that must be in working order. But since the discussion is on aging.....and a major part of aging is a loss of strength and a deterioration of tissues (vocal folds, along with skin, and everything else), then this is the pertinent point. The reference to powerlifting is, I believe, entirely relevant. It's the same gig, your tissues get more vulnerable (tendons etc) as do your vocal folds, and your muscles aren't quite as they used to be. But with sensible training, you can maintain impressive performance. I don't see why it's any different for the physical aspect of singing (if we can safely make the assumption that one does not lose the other elements involved in singing as one ages).

I agree with the notion of keeping ones whole body fit and strong to aid the process. Personally, I'm exhausted after singing a hard song. The sheer effort of keeping up the proper support really takes it out of you, so I can not begin to imagine doing it in a weak or frail state.

End rant!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...