Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Singing While Old: How Vintage Voices Can "Rock"

Singing is a lot of things ... it is athletic, it is biological, it is psychological, it is spiritual,  it is technical and above all, it is art. Because of all these things, the voice changes as we age. And because of these things, aging is a good news/bad news balance we can tip in our voices' favor, if we know how! Let us consider...

The bad news: We may have lost some vocal ability.

We may not be as physically able as in younger days. Our energy and stamina may give out sooner. Our memories for lyrics may grow, shall we say, less reliable. We may have developed one or more health limitations causing compromised breath, loss of vocal muscle control or any kind of distracting pain.

The good news: We may be able to sing better than we have in our lives!

We know things we didn't. We have had more life experience, and so we have a wider color palate from which to paint nuanced vocal emotion. We may have learned and practiced better vocal technique than we ever used before. Also, much like an old guitar or piano vs a new one, the density of our instrument (larynx) is harder and more resonant. We may have addressed and healed some limiting physical conditions and diseases, and have more stamina than ever! And finally, we may have conquered self-conscious fear that used to numb us in performance.

Some important things to do as a vintage voice:
  • Physically: Stay or GET healthy! 
Do you need to change your diet, add some nutritional supplements, drink more water, get on some high blood pressure, thyroid, cholesterol or other meds? Do you need to visit the doc, dentist, chiro, nutritionist, accupuncturist? Do you need to find a good exercise routine? Now is the time. Now.
  • Mentally: Shake yourself up!
 Dig into the unknown with all your senses... listen, touch, taste, smell, look ...especially read! Take on, or renew, a creative hobby, travel (even if it's to another part of town), do some brain-training games, learn another language or computer operating system. Learn to play a new instrument... banjo, cello, lute, percussion.  It's never too late for piano or guitar. Take up dancing! Practice with pure joy!
  • Spiritually: Go farther!
 Find a newly authentic connection with the Source of all life and creativity. Do some work ... let go of bitterness, resentments and other old baggage. Love more fully and less selfishly. Breathe deeper. Let God. Reconnect with old friends; make new ones. Without community, a voice is a lonely cry.
  • Musically: Get brave! 
- Sing old songs with new meaning, unique to how you understand them! Learn new songs and sing them your way. Better yet... WRITE new songs!

- Do some vocal training! Yes, this is another case of use it or lose it. There are changes in the vocal apparatus that can occur when we age. But for those whose vocal folds have lost muscle mass or whose larynx have experienced other aging changes the medical field calls presbyphonia, vocal exercises can turn back the clock, and are recommended by ENTs and speech pathologists! I know from working with them... older voices can definitely learn new tricks. We do it everyday and it's a blast when you find your voice, get it back, or sing even better than ever. If you can't afford lessons or courses, dig into blogs and online forum discussions you don't have to pay for. Where there's a will... you will find a way.

- Don't worry about what you really CAN'T do. If you need to sing your songs down a 1/2 or whole step, do it! If you've developed a bit of wobble, train it out with some vocal exercises, and let what you can't control just BE. You are old enough to know the wisdom of perfectionism being the enemy of magic :)


Now for some inspiration and proof positive: here are some examples of vintage voices that rock...

...ok I started a very incomplete, top-of-my-head list that could go on and on... please add your favorite singers who are 60 years or older in the comment section. I'd love to check them out...

PS.. if you are a younger singer, read this post as evidence of what you have to look forward to!

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  • At October 20, 2014 at 4:11 AM , Blogger hypnosinging said...

    Wow!! This is something I found very interesting and encouraging to start singing without any age barrier.

    One can also try Vocal Coaching Using Hypnosis

  • At November 17, 2014 at 7:50 PM , Anonymous Rbert Pyper said...

    As a young man I thought seriously about a singing career but instead opted for a career as a geologist but I kept the singing as a hobby and at age 77 I have found no drop off in quality or range, but it just takes some warmup time now to get going and I sing every day usually for a minimum of 30 minutes. Watching Angelo Loforese you can see his marvellous control of abdominal muscles. Thanks for the vocal blog

  • At November 17, 2014 at 9:25 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Rbert.. I appreciate your comment so much - great to hear from vintage voices like yours! Keep singing, friend.

  • At December 29, 2014 at 9:22 AM , Anonymous Phil Wildstein said...

    Judy, I have been reading your newsletters for several years now. You always have amazing advice and information that you share. This article is one of the best. I have always loved to sing but just started going out and singing three or four years ago. I have been doing karaoke and local talent shows, which have been a great amount of fun. I also participated in a state wide contest a few years ago as well. In the coming year, I have aspirations of performing at senior centers and will be putting together a set of songs from the 1930's through the early 1960's.

    I have long been wondering how long my voice would hold up and sound good, and if there was anything I could do to make my voice last as long as possible. Your article has told me there is, so thank you for that. Keep up the wonderful things that you do and have a happy and healthy New Year's.

  • At December 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Dear Phil.. your message means the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to write, and I hope 2015 brings you tons of opportunity to share your voice with people. Sounds like you are far from done making music!

  • At February 20, 2015 at 12:36 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Age is not a hindrance in continuing achieving your dreams and this is the perfect article for that. I always believe that there's a lot of opportunities to those people who has a talent in singing because they can land in a different Singing Jobs in the Industry along with determination and hard work, nothing is impossible. Thank you for writing this one and for giving inspiration to everyone.

  • At January 5, 2017 at 9:46 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    You inspire me, Rbert Piper!

  • At January 5, 2017 at 10:26 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Great and inspiring article, Judy Rodman!! Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom and encouragement! I'm currently reading Natalie Grant's new book, Finding Your Voice, which echoes your advice. Natalie states that our voices aren't fully developed and at ther best until age 45. She suggests making a change and trying it 10 days straight to see if there's a difference in how we feel (ie. - fitness, nutrition, better sleep, etc.).

    I'm in a Female Musician Academy with Bree Noble, learning and growing in many ways. One of the musicians, Elaine, just shared your post with our group. There are many of us who either stayed home to raise our children or had other careers before pursuing our passion and purpose in music -- so your article resonates well.

    Bernard Porter heard me sing at a Nashville Road Show March 2014 and invited me to record my debut album in Nashville. Bernard said to me "There are no age restrictions. Age doesn't matter." Bernard never asked my age. Within a week, Bernard connected me with Roger Ryan, and 4 weeks later I was in Nashville recording my Clear Vision debut album. Before my album, I was sharing my musical gifts in many various ways, yet not promoting myself. I had zero fan base and no social media presence or website.

    In October, I sang at the 216 Dove Awards with Steven Curtis Chapman. It was a joy to sing One True God in a choir with this amazing artist.

    I was 50 when I started recording my album and I was 53 when I sang at the Doves. I hope my story will inspire and encourage folks of all ages to pursue their dreams.

    p.s. Bernard and Roger have spoken so highly of you and enjoy working with you. They've shared about your contribution to the music world. Thank you for all you do to help others!

  • At January 5, 2017 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Oh my goodness Beth, what a sweet message... and what a small world! Your story it uber-inspiring, and I know it will help everyone who reads it believe the truth: Age doesn't matter! Only vocal health, and message delivery, matter. Congratulations on your awesome journey, and of course... you're not done yet!


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