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Scorpionleader
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Got out of singing about 10 years ago, and I'm just starting back up. I'm male and 43 years old. My voice was, and is clean. I can't growl, and don't scream. I have joined a band of guys roughly half my age. My concern is being able to retain 3+ octaves to stay together in the band. I don't want to quit because my vocals can't do the job. It wouldn't be fair to a band to have to quit in a couple years, especially when we get along so well.

I enjoy going into head voice, and being in mixed voice. That's where I get passion into a song, but I am hesitant to sing there on originals now for the fear of not knowing how long will a singing range last. I see there are some pro singers in their late 50's and early 60's still going, but even they don't have the voice they started with.

I have heard sopranos still singing strong into their 70's, but the males I have heard locally start vocally deteriorating in their late 40's. None of these are pros, but they have been in the past.

How long can I last while singing properly (for the most part)? I sing relaxed most of the time, but never had a lesson, so I might have bad habits I don't even know about.

I have been told to have the band tune down a half-step, but I fail to see how that will do anything for originals. Still gonna sing on key, right?:lol:

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Got out of singing about 10 years ago, and I'm just starting back up. I'm male and 43 years old. My voice was, and is clean. I can't growl, and don't scream. I have joined a band of guys roughly half my age. My concern is being able to retain 3+ octaves to stay together in the band. I don't want to quit because my vocals can't do the job. It wouldn't be fair to a band to have to quit in a couple years, especially when we get along so well.

I enjoy going into head voice, and being in mixed voice. That's where I get passion into a song, but I am hesitant to sing there on originals now for the fear of not knowing how long will a singing range last. I see there are some pro singers in their late 50's and early 60's still going, but even they don't have the voice they started with.

I have heard sopranos still singing strong into their 70's, but the males I have heard locally start vocally deteriorating in their late 40's. None of these are pros, but they have been in the past.

How long can I last while singing properly (for the most part)? I sing relaxed most of the time, but never had a lesson, so I might have bad habits I don't even know about.

I have been told to have the band tune down a half-step, but I fail to see how that will do anything for originals. Still gonna sing on key, right?:lol:

Hi, Scorpionleader! Vocal longevity is no mystery, and very do-able, provided the singer compensates for the effects of aging on the body and takes care of the voice and overall health in the usual ways. If the singer does not compensate or take care, they lose ability noticably. Tony Bennett, Andy Williams and Luciano Pavarotti are great examples of male performers maintaining their chops way into later life.

There are two aspects of aging that directly affect the male voice, which are not often discussed among older singers: 1) decreasing levels of testosterone, and the progressive ossification of the laryngeal cartilages. The testosterone changes have a subtle but progressive effect on muscle tissue, and the ossification reduces the flexibility of the laryngeal cartilages. Both of these can be compensated for, and the singer can maintain their standard of performance for a very long time if these compensations are used.

To be specific, the hormonal change affects the muscle tone and cross-section of the vocalis and thyro-arytenoids, so that the cross-section and strength of their flex decreases very slightly as we age. This affects glottal adduction, lessening it, and also affects the ability of those muscles in their tuning-interplay with the crico-throid. Similarly, the crico-thyroid muscle loses tone and cross-section. While this does not affect adduction, it does affect the ability of the CT in the tuning-interplay with the thyro-arytenoids.

As mentioned, the effects are subtle and slow, but there. The compensation for them is to include regular vocal exercises that use the full range of pitches and dynamics of the particular voice, and to assure that the voice is not being used in a pushed manner. Exercises for clean tone onset, dynamic change (i.e., messa di voce), phrasing, rapid-note change, coordinative arpeggios (2 or more connected octaves) and resonance optimization are all beneficial for maintaining vocal health.

As to the ossification (cartilage becoming bone) of the laryngeal structures, this is not so much of a worry, but deserves a comment. As the tissues get harder, they get less flexible, but more able to be misused. Its easier to oversing to the point that the muscles get strained from overly-heavy registration. So, don't do that. Keeping the phonation balanced, with appropriate registration adjustments throughout the range, will help getting into that rut. If you discover that the vibrato is slowing down, or that the larynx is bobbing up and down in synch with the vibrato, those are signs that there has been vocal overuse, and that the technique and daily amounts of voice use should be reviewed.

I hope this helps.

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Hey Scorpion, I'm going to link this, not as something to be critiqued. There are a few pitch issues and a few timing issues. I post it to show something about range and tone.

I recorded this about 30 minutes ago. No rehearsal, first time to sing this song all the way through, no warm-up, I was reading the lyrics from a print-out. One take, first take, no edits. I used a Columbia pre-set eq to take out the hiss and restore some bass that gets chopped out by my cheapie mic. And compressor, though I probably didn't need it. This is full tilt boogie, concert volume. At the end of a long day, when I am usually my most tired. My voice is stronger than this earlier in the day, even the morning. The mic is at least 1.5 feet away.

This is to give you hope and confirmation that you can do it.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Dio%20-%20Rainbow%201.mp3

Of course, as time goes by, I will refine it, fix the problems, even try some different mixes, and no doubt get plenty of helpful hints from the good people here.

How old do I sound?

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No reply, Scorpion? That's alright. The point is, I am 46. I could do this 22 years ago, I can do it today. There's no reason for you not to have power, range, and endurance. One of my favorites here is at least ten years older than I am, singing Foreigner songs. Some of them, he drops a half, or even a whole tone. But most performers drop 1/2 in a live show, anyway.

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Steven, Great information. I suppose I really knew the answer all along. I need a vocal teacher to make sure I'm doing things right. After all that's what the pros do. Now to find the time and the money.:lol:

Ron, I can still hit the notes I hit when I started singing. I was singing Journey, Skid Row, GNR, Motley Crue, and still can. The thing that was frightening me I guess: Do I need vocal training, or is there just doom ahead anyways?

This all comes about because I play drums for a variety show once a month. These people in the group are in their 70's and 80's mostly. What I noticed was:

Men in their 60's still have decent range but losing power, women that age virtually sound no different.

Men around 70 have loss of power, no range, and vibrato has become so strong that I'm not sure what note they are hitting, and women in that age range lose power, and start having the same vibrato issues.

Men in their 80's... well... not many of them. But there is one lady soprano in her 80's with a pristine voice, better power than women 10 years her junior.

So, I do know it can be done, just wasn't sure if you had to be a freak of nature to do it. I remember seeing Wayne Newton on an "I Love Lucy" episode. He was a teenager singing to a cow, and I was blown away by his singing. I understand the vigorous Vegas schedule can take its toll on performers, but when I heard him sing recently, I couldn't listen to him. His vibrato is far too thick. I had the same let down with Andy Williams when I saw him perform recently. So, I began to think that if these guys, with the money, and the connections can't retain their voices what chance do I have?

I understand that age will do what aging does, but I don't want to be sitting in the middle of a variety show when I'm older frustrated that I can't do what I used to do, or even worse; thinking I'm still able to do it, but oblivious to the fact that I can't.:o I want to be an anomaly like Pavarotti was, or the 80 year old woman in the variety show.:cool:

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<snip>

So, I do know it can be done, just wasn't sure if you had to be a freak of nature to do it. I remember seeing Wayne Newton on an "I Love Lucy" episode. He was a teenager singing to a cow, and I was blown away by his singing. I understand the vigorous Vegas schedule can take its toll on performers, but when I heard him sing recently, I couldn't listen to him. His vibrato is far too thick. I had the same let down with Andy Williams when I saw him perform recently. So, I began to think that if these guys, with the money, and the connections can't retain their voices what chance do I have?

I understand that age will do what aging does, but I don't want to be sitting in the middle of a variety show when I'm older frustrated that I can't do what I used to do, or even worse; thinking I'm still able to do it, but oblivious to the fact that I can't.:o I want to be an anomaly like Pavarotti was, or the 80 year old woman in the variety show.:cool:

Scorpionleader: Pavarotti's performance schedule was never as active as Wayne or Andy. Wayne, who will be 70 in 2012, did over 40 THOUSAND solo shows in his 40 years as a star in Las Vegas. An average of 1000 shows a year. That would be 3 a day or so...

Andy is even older, born somewhere between 1927 and 1932, would make him somewhere between 78 and 83.

IMO, what is missing in that kind of schedule is vocal rest, and time to do the sorts of technique adjustments I mentioned. If you want, think of that as preventive maintenance, like oil changes for your car. I also think these two singers are doing the things with their careers that they want to. They have made their choices as individuals. They are successful entertainers, with enthusiastic audiences. They sing a lot. They like how its going. Where would be the motivation?

Ralph Appelman, voice teacher, singer, author and vocal pedagogue at the University of Indiana, believed that specific vocal techniques could keep the vibrato fresh. At a seminar with other voice professionals, at age 80, he demonstrated singing with a vibrato similar to that of a 25-yr-old. A voice-teacher friend of mine, a former university professor, witnessed this demonstration in person, and described it in these terms when we spoke on the phone this week.

The evidence that it is patterns of use, not age, that is the most influential factor. Look at the vocalism of the busiest opera stars in middle age, and you can see some of this happening. In former years, Teresa Stratas, and before her, Maria Callas could be seen in performances with laryngeal and tongue up/down motions synched with their vibratos.

Even in his 50s, Nicolai Gedda had a fairly wide vibrato when he sang full voice, That sort of thing, when it gets out of hand, is a wobble. But Gedda did not let it get out of hand. Here is a 'live' audio recording of him, in 2005, singing the Lord's prayer in Russian, and some other songs from the same event are close by. Gedda was born in 1925. For this event... 79 or 80 years old.

And a video of him, at the Varmland Classical Festival, Aug 1996 (at age 71) singing the Pearl Fisher's duet by Bizet.

So, yes, there will be effects on the whole body from growing older. Do you walk with the same spring in your step as you did at 25? The voice is no different. The singer must keep after muscle tone, strength, flexibiity, range-of-motion and coordination to keep in the zone, and then sing a sensible schedule.

But as you said, you knew all these things already. As I see it, its a tradeoff between the upkeep work, and the enjoyment of performance. The time to hang up your cords is when you have decided the enjoyment of performance (however you calculate that) is not worth the work it takes to keep up your performance standards. You will never know where that is until you get after it.

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Got out of singing about 10 years ago, and I'm just starting back up. I'm male and 43 years old. My voice was, and is clean. I can't growl, and don't scream. I have joined a band of guys roughly half my age. My concern is being able to retain 3+ octaves to stay together in the band. I don't want to quit because my vocals can't do the job. It wouldn't be fair to a band to have to quit in a couple years, especially when we get along so well.

I enjoy going into head voice, and being in mixed voice. That's where I get passion into a song, but I am hesitant to sing there on originals now for the fear of not knowing how long will a singing range last. I see there are some pro singers in their late 50's and early 60's still going, but even they don't have the voice they started with.

I have heard sopranos still singing strong into their 70's, but the males I have heard locally start vocally deteriorating in their late 40's. None of these are pros, but they have been in the past.

How long can I last while singing properly (for the most part)? I sing relaxed most of the time, but never had a lesson, so I might have bad habits I don't even know about.

I have been told to have the band tune down a half-step, but I fail to see how that will do anything for originals. Still gonna sing on key, right?:lol:

hiya scorpion,

i'm 57!

check these "over 60" singers out:

at 6:14 on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcJEfrahIC4&feature=fvst

and gramm even after a major brain tumor, clearly not looking all too healthy, still has it i.m.o.

just a little lower

let me know what you think. bob

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Steven - those performances of Nicolai Gedda do show a slower and wider vibrato than when he was younger - not that it is "bad" now - it is still great. Pavoratti maintained his voice throughout all of his life. Steven - Nicolai is great at any age, but do you think that the difference I'm hearing between the young Nicolai and old Nicolai is due to physical aging or a change in practice routine? I am aware of a lot of pro / gifted / instrumentalists who don't really practice any more, due to a heavy concert schedule, and let the concert schedule become the only practice they do. They reached high technical levels early in life, and then "live" off that for the rest of their lives. A lot of them when interviewed wished they could get back to practicing their instruments. Not sure about vocalists, but I would think the same could happen with vocalists.

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Scorpionleader: Pavarotti's performance schedule was never as active as Wayne or Andy. Wayne, who will be 70 in 2012, did over 40 THOUSAND solo shows in his 40 years as a star in Las Vegas. An average of 1000 shows a year. That would be 3 a day or so...

Andy is even older, born somewhere between 1927 and 1932, would make him somewhere between 78 and 83.

IMO, what is missing in that kind of schedule is vocal rest, and time to do the sorts of technique adjustments I mentioned. If you want, think of that as preventive maintenance, like oil changes for your car. I also think these two singers are doing the things with their careers that they want to. They have made their choices as individuals. They are successful entertainers, with enthusiastic audiences. They sing a lot. They like how its going. Where would be the motivation?

Ralph Appelman, voice teacher, singer, author and vocal pedagogue at the University of Indiana, believed that specific vocal techniques could keep the vibrato fresh. At a seminar with other voice professionals, at age 80, he demonstrated singing with a vibrato similar to that of a 25-yr-old. A voice-teacher friend of mine, a former university professor, witnessed this demonstration in person, and described it in these terms when we spoke on the phone this week.

The evidence that it is patterns of use, not age, that is the most influential factor. Look at the vocalism of the busiest opera stars in middle age, and you can see some of this happening. In former years, Teresa Stratas, and before her, Maria Callas could be seen in performances with laryngeal and tongue up/down motions synched with their vibratos.

Even in his 50s, Nicolai Gedda had a fairly wide vibrato when he sang full voice, That sort of thing, when it gets out of hand, is a wobble. But Gedda did not let it get out of hand. Here is a 'live' audio recording of him, in 2005, singing the Lord's prayer in Russian, and some other songs from the same event are close by. Gedda was born in 1925. For this event... 79 or 80 years old.

And a video of him, at the Varmland Classical Festival, Aug 1997 (at age 72) singing the Pearl Fisher's duet by Bizet.

So, yes, there will be effects on the whole body from growing older. Do you walk with the same spring in your step as you did at 25? The voice is no different. The singer must keep after muscle tone, strength, flexibiity, range-of-motion and coordination to keep in the zone, and then sing a sensible schedule.

But as you said, you knew all these things already. As I see it, its a tradeoff between the upkeep work, and the enjoyment of performance. The time to hang up your cords is when you have decided the enjoyment of performance (however you calculate that) is not worth the work it takes to keep up your performance standards. You will never know where that is until you get after it.

The pearlfisher duet really is amazing. I don't listen to opera every day but I've seen that one live here in stockholm and the emotion displayed in that song between the two friends that meet again is spectacular. I also think it's funny how Gedda still can hit Bb4 in a better tone than I can at age 72. :D

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Steven - those performances of Nicolai Gedda do show a slower and wider vibrato than when he was younger - not that it is "bad" now - it is still great. Pavoratti maintained his voice throughout all of his life. Steven - Nicolai is great at any age, but do you think that the difference I'm hearing between the young Nicolai and old Nicolai is due to physical aging or a change in practice routine? I am aware of a lot of pro / gifted / instrumentalists who don't really practice any more, due to a heavy concert schedule, and let the concert schedule become the only practice they do. They reached high technical levels early in life, and then "live" off that for the rest of their lives. A lot of them when interviewed wished they could get back to practicing their instruments. Not sure about vocalists, but I would think the same could happen with vocalists.

guitartrek: I've never met or talked with Nicolai, or read anything that he has written on the subject. But, these artists are people, and have human foibles just like we do.

With vocalists, my reasoning is that it is _more_ important to keep the practice up, as the physical parts of the instrument itself, and the coordination of those parts, reduce in ability if not used. If you set a 40 yr old fender strat or Les Paul in the corner for a year or two, the only bad thing that will happen is that the strings may rust. Stop singing for a year or two... much will have to be regained.

When I listened to the Pearl Fisher duet, I heard a few things to comment on. First, when these two artists get to the last note, their vibrato's are the same speed. In his own sections, Gedda is very solid, and the only thing I hear missing from his tone quality is some of the very high frequencies that would come from a slightly less aggressive adduction. Remember, too, that Gedda was a lighter tenor voice in his younger years, and did not take on the heavier roles until he matured. I personally think that he decided the slightly-slower vibrato was a reasonable trade-off to be able to sing the larger roles.

But while we are talking about him, let's let him take us to school in this performance. Its one of the very few I've seen where you can watch him work his technique in such an exposed way. The camera angle shows posture, his variations in jaw and tongue position, lip formation, etc. You can see him play his instrument. Fabulous.

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Steven, the duet proved useful in proving the 2 voices were so close in quality, I didn't realize when I was listening that it was a duet I was doing other things and not really paying attention, but when I looked up I saw 2 people were singing. That's the kind of longevity I'm shooting for.

Bob, Those samples were amazing. I'm so encouraged now. The bands, and singers I grew up listening to still got it all. My favorite singer ever, Steve Perry, seemed to always be in vocal trouble while another favorite of mine, Steven Tyler, even through all the drugs and abuse, still sounded amazing the last time I heard him. My voice is clean and seeing the samples you put up, show me that clean vocals are completely attainable.

Thank you everyone for the help. I feel I can proceed confidently. Too bad this forum wasn't available 10 years ago. I might not have quit in the first place.

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Steve - I watched the duet again and agree. He is really great and still totally on top of his game. It makes sense that he would have chosen the wider slower vibrato for the heavier roles. That would help to prove your point that the voice can last a long time if taken care of.

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Scorpion, I hope you didn't misunderstand. I was making a dramatic point with range. As for longetivity, I have to agree with Steve. Who knows? With the right training You will sing everything you ever did. And maybe you don't need training. Just support, and that's fine. Your concern is can you still due another twenty years from today. Well, I don't have a crystal ball. But barring injury and illness, there is no physical reason that you can be strong and blasting away in you 60's. Ronnie James Dio was in his 60's. And singing in spite of illness.

By the way, I watched an interview with Jeff, the skinny little long haired guy that sing for Tesla. He's 52. And the band drops 1/2 on some of the tunes and no one ever knows the difference. Kip Winger is 49 and can still sing opera.

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At the end of the day mate, you should just go for it! Forget about these worries of suddenly losing your voice... Worst case, your band can find another singer, there are plenty young guys around with big voices that are trying to make it. But did you ever think that having the age and experience can be a good thing when it comes to singing? Hear a young man--even a very good singer--perform "My Way" and you'll see what I mean. Just practise hard, get a teacher, do whatever it takes. Just make it happen :D

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At the end of the day mate, you should just go for it! Forget about these worries of suddenly losing your voice... Worst case, your band can find another singer, there are plenty young guys around with big voices that are trying to make it. But did you ever think that having the age and experience can be a good thing when it comes to singing? Hear a young man--even a very good singer--perform "My Way" and you'll see what I mean. Just practise hard, get a teacher, do whatever it takes. Just make it happen :D

yeah mr. "b"...we older gents have some kick ass wisdom in the vocals!!! lol!!!

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Steven, the duet proved useful in proving the 2 voices were so close in quality, I didn't realize when I was listening that it was a duet I was doing other things and not really paying attention, but when I looked up I saw 2 people were singing. That's the kind of longevity I'm shooting for.

Bob, Those samples were amazing. I'm so encouraged now. The bands, and singers I grew up listening to still got it all. My favorite singer ever, Steve Perry, seemed to always be in vocal trouble while another favorite of mine, Steven Tyler, even through all the drugs and abuse, still sounded amazing the last time I heard him. My voice is clean and seeing the samples you put up, show me that clean vocals are completely attainable.

Thank you everyone for the help. I feel I can proceed confidently. Too bad this forum wasn't available 10 years ago. I might not have quit in the first place.

scorpion, i never knew perry had vocal issues..can you tell us more?

just last night i was listening to this masterpiece!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjUp8zMVR94&feature=related

steve fraser, wouldn't be cool to hear an operatic version of this?

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just last night i was listening to this masterpiece!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjUp8zMVR94&feature=related

steve fraser, wouldn't be cool to hear an operatic version of this?

Bob: I like it the way it is, actually. The arrangement and the vocals are very well done.

If it was going to work as a classical rendition, IMO the band part would need to be orchestrated, too.

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As a physiology specialist, I'd just like to 'plus one' what Steven said. Whilst no voice lasts for ever, there are a multitude of ways to approach what's happening in the ageing voice and handle it - meaning that there's no reason not to go out singing!

I'd like to recommend a rep point for Steven because I feel he made the information very accessible.

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Bob: I like it the way it is, actually. The arrangement and the vocals are very well done.

If it was going to work as a classical rendition, IMO the band part would need to be orchestrated, too.

i'd love to tackle a song like that but it's (currently anyway) not in my range.

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Watching interviews with Steve Perry and why he left Journey. They toured for 15 years, almost non-stop, pulling off the road just long enough to record another album. He was burned out, exhausted. Journey was the hardest working rock band. They never stopped. And he just got tired, physically, vocally, emotionally. "They say the road ain't no place to start a family." Amen, brother.

But, as Steven pointed out, Tony Bennett is a classic example of singing well past the normal "prime." As well as Ronnie James Dio.

So, with training, maybe some adjustments here and there, we should all be able to sing for a long time.

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