There are lots of methods singers use to try and improve their voice. But is a good singing voice something that simply comes with age? At what age do singers peak (or even retire)?Do singers lose their voice when they get older? And can puberty even have an impact on your singing voice and vocals? We’ve developed a short guide explaining how voices can get better with age, or in some cases could even get worse. Read on to find out more!
What happens to singer’s voices as they age?
The human voice goes through various physical changes as its ages, which all have an effect on the singing voice.
Getting older won’t miraculously improve your singing. It’s the experience and practice that comes with age that improves your vocals. Your voice can change in lots of ways during your lifetime and reaching vocal peak and maturity varies from person to person.
Understanding your singing voice and how it changes with age will help you unlock your voice’s full potential. It’s not just about the physical changes; it’s important to understand the other key factors that help your voice develop.
Does age affect singing?
Lots of variables affect your singing voice, and age is one of them. Age doesn’t just affect how your voice sounds and how your vocal cords perform, how old you are can also influence your singing technique, ability, and performance.
Your singing voice will change during adolescence, early adulthood, and can then change again in later life. Age can improve your voice; the more years you’ve been singing for, the more experience you have.
With time and experience comes a better singing technique, more vocal stamina, and stronger, better–executed performance. Early adulthood is a milestone for the singing voice because the voice box becomes fully developed and the singing voice is able to reach its full potential.
Does your singing voice get better with age?
Singers generally notice that their voices peak in adulthood, then start to deteriorate in later years. But singing coach Jeannie Deva says her voice continues to flourish year after year.
She highlights how age doesn’t just bring physical changes to a singer’s vocals. Getting older can bring your singing voice on leaps and bounds because getting more familiar with your vocal ability and working on your technique can help you sing better.
In a discussion about the effect of age on the voice, Deva replied “my voice has remained full, flexible, powerful and versatile. I am able to sing for hours with no fatigue or blow-out. In fact, the more I sing the better my voice becomes. I am still surprised at the development of new colours and variations within it. With each passing year, it is more expressive than it ever was.”
What happens to your singing voice as you get older?
Everyone’s voice changes as they get older, whether they sing or not. As you grow up, there are various physical milestones that can affect your voice (and in turn, your singing voice):
How does puberty affect your singing voice and vocals?
- Puberty – a boy’s voice will change between the age of 12 and 16. The vocal cords grow and change like the rest of the body, and the voice goes through changes to accommodate for this. Boys can experience loss of pitch, squeakiness, a husky voice and loss of notes when they sing.
How does the menstrual cycle affect your singing and vocals?
- Menstrual cycle– girls experience changes in their voice during puberty too, but not as noticeably as boys. The experience is different for everyone, but some girls will find their voice is raspy on certain days of the month, they struggle to produce low or high notes, or their vocal cords feel swollen.
How is your vocal after puberty?
- Early adulthood – even after puberty, your body still undergoes hormonal and physiological development. The vocal folds grow stronger, and so do the muscles supporting them. This allows your voice to get stronger and more powerful.
- Later life – sadly, like the rest of your body, your voice can start to decline in later life. Your voice can start to thin, wobble, and change pitch. This doesn’t spell the end, though, plenty of singers continue singing into their later years!
When does your singing voice fully develop?
Different people mature at different rates, and this applies to your voice too. But generally speaking, singers usually see their singing voice start to really come on between the age of 20 – 30.
Voices that have a deeper, heavier tone typically take longer to fully develop. But vocal coach Roger Burnley suggests that your singing voice may never be fully developed – that as you grow older, your voice will constantly be changing, and you should always be looking for ways to improve.
The type of music you sing can also affect how long it takes your voice to develop. Opera singers, for example, have to wait longer for their voices fully develop. Their lungs and abdominal muscles need years of training and development to be able to project their voice over the orchestra, and basses sometimes don’t peak until middle age.
At what age do singers peak?
There’s no universal age when a singer’s vocals reach their peak. It depends on the singer and how often they train their voice.
Reaching your peak vocal performance relies on several many factors. Your physiological development (the growth and maturation of your body), your technical development (improving your skills and singing technique), and your experience all play a part in developing your voice.
These can all happen at different rates. Your voice will mature and improve with time and physical and technical development. Reaching your peak comes with dedication and hard work, as well as age.
Does the female voice change with age?
Girl’s voices change during puberty, but not as dramatically as a boy’s pitch. The male voice develops a jumping pitch during adolescence and drops an octave lower, while a girl’s voice only drops by about three tones.
The female voice can take up to four years to fully change and stabilise, and this usually starts to happen around the age of 10.
A female’s singing voice will largely stay the same after puberty. It might deepen slightly when a woman reaches middle age and become dry and hoarse during the menopause.
Vocal differences between the genders
Getting older can change your singing voice, and male and female singers experience different changes.
- Men’s larynxes change with age, and they change more than women’s. After the age of 30, men start losing muscle mass and the muscle fibre in their larynx weakens
- The pitch of a male singing voice gets higher with age
- A female singer’s pitch stays the same, or lowers slightly, as she gets older
- Boy’s singing voices can take up to 2 years after puberty to mature
- Girl’s voices are affected less by puberty
- Menopause can make a woman’s voice become stiff
Do vocal cords change with age?
Your vocal cords go through several changes during the course of your life. Your vocal cords change dramatically during adolescence and the ageing process can also affect them during later life.
Your vocal cords change when you hit the age of puberty. Before becoming a teenager, your voice box sits higher in your neck. The vocal folds change and get thicker and bigger as a result of puberty, and your voice box moves further down.
Like the rest of your body, your vocal cords slowly change and age over the course of your life. As you get older, the fibres in your vocal folds become stiffer and thinner and your larynx cartilage becomes harder. This limits the voice and is why elderly people’s voices can sound “wobbly” or “breathier”.
Does your voice change in your 20’s?
The biggest changes to your voice will happen during puberty and will usually end by the age of 18. Your adult pitch is then reached 2 or 3 years later. But your voice won’t completely stabilise until early adulthood.
Your voice can carry on changing through your 20’s, and even into your 30’s. You may physically stop growing at the end of adolescence, but your singing voice and vocal apparatus can continue to develop in early adulthood.
A lot of vocal training and advancement can happen during your 20’s, and this can change the sound and quality of your voice.
Your vocal cords grow stronger after adolescence, and so do the supporting muscles in your chest, abdomen, and neck with proper practice and training. Building a stronger vocal apparatus will help your voice grow and will also strengthen your singing voice.
What age do singers retire?
If you want singing to be your lifelong career, the thought of losing your singing voice when you get older can be nerve-wracking. But your singing voice isn’t finite; it won’t just disappear when you reach later life.
You won’t notice any huge changes to your voice until your 60’s and 70’s when the larynx starts to weaken. Your voice can get wobbly and hoarse. But this doesn’t spell the end of your singing career! Plenty of musicians still tour and perform in their 70’s and 80’s.
Older singer’s voices may take on a different tone to their younger heyday years, but a singer’s voice will always be recognisable.
Your vocal cords may age and weaken but they aren’t the only thing that determines your sound. The shape of your nose, the size of your tongue, and the shape of your palate all contribute to the personality and tone of your voice. These won’t change with age, so you won’t ever lose your singing voice just because you’ve got older.
How to make your voice younger
Singer’s voices are actually said to stay younger for longer, as frequent use of the voice can help keep it alive. There are lots of things you can try to keep your voice young, no matter your age. Like with lots of age prevention methods, it’s best to start tackling the ageing process while you’re young!
Reading out loud is a good way to it keep your voice active.
Try humming into a straw
Sounds a bit odd, but this will provide a fun workout for your respiratory system and vocal folds.
Work with a vocal coach
Learning the proper singing technique can help keep your voice box healthy.
Practice extended vocal slides
This will help build back your vocal range and flexibility.
A good breathing technique will keep your voice powerful.
Sing as much as you can
Using your voice will stop you losing it.
Frequently asked questions
- How do I get my high-pitched voice back?
After puberty, a boy’s voice becomes much deeper. As a result, he might lose some of his range and not be able to hit such high notes. There’s no way to reverse these vocal changes as the voice deepening during adolescence is a natural, normal process. But there are ways to train your voice to reach higher notes.
A good breathing technique will help your voice reach a higher range. Sit or stand up straight and breathe through your diaphragm, never your nose. Open your mouth more as you sing and point your chin down.
Keeping your tongue pressed down while you sing will also help prevent your high notes sounding thin.
- What’s the best age to start singing?
There’s no set age you should start singing. Some singers discovered their passion at a young age; others didn’t until later in life. Singing is just an extension of talking. So as soon as you’re old enough to talk, you can sing.
If you want to take singing lessons, vocal coaches recommend the best age to start training is after puberty (which is typically between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys). This is because your voice is more settled and sounds more mature.
Fourteen is suggested as a good age to start singing because your voice has developed and matured by this point.
- Does singing get better with age?
Your singing voice won’t miraculously get better the older you get. Your vocal cords and voice box will grow and mature in early adulthood, and this allows your voice to grow and develop. But it’s the practice, technique, and experience that comes with age which will really improve your voice.