January 17, 2024

About the Author: Urpi

Urpi teaches vocals at S&C singing in Dubai and loves helping her students excel and become the best singers they can be!

In the process of learning to sing and mastering your singing, one of the most important steps that every singer must follow without leaving aside is to know their voice deeply.

In the same way knowing the characteristics that make our bodies unique from the rest allow us to enjoy a life full of possibilities in many aspects, knowing your voice and the traits that make it different from other voices allow us to achieve our highest vocal potential and splendour.

Thus, as the voice, the most primal of instruments, resides in our body, it is crucial to remember that it undergoes many physical changes as the body ages.

Everyone’s voice changes as they get older, whether they sing or not, and of course, it changes depending on the genre, the use, and the care.

But what are those changes in the singing voice over time? Here, we explain in detail the different phases of the human lifetime and the effects on the singing voice.

Little boy singing

Pre-Puberty: Singing Like a Bird

Regarding vocal timbre, range and expression, children’s singing voices are unique in their own way. Before a child reaches puberty, his larynx is quite small, and his vocal cords are small and thin, making it possible for them to sing higher than adults.

In addition, boys and girls have voice boxes and vocal cords that are very similar in size and structure.

This results in young boys having a similar vocal range as young girls and even, in some cases, singing higher than most girls may be able to sing.

Moreover, In early childhood, singing is all about interaction and exploration. Children find absolutely no shame in singing with full passion as they are not yet familiar with being self-conscious about how they sound compared to others.

Even though various physical changes that will affect the children’s voice are yet to come, starting to train them vocally is advantageous as they will learn quickly and without thinking so much.

Teenage girl singing

Puberty: The Rollercoaster Singing Voice

As we mentioned before, during the pre-puberty phase, there is very little difference in the sound the vocal cords produce between females and males.

Nevertheless, when children reach puberty, hormones begin exerting their effects. In the case of boys, they can experience loss of pitch, squeakiness, a husky voice and loss of notes when they sing between the ages of 12 and 16.

The male voice also develops a jumping pitch during adolescence and drops an octave lower. On the other hand, girls’ voices change during puberty as well, but not as dramatically as a boy’s pitch. When girls begin their menstrual cycle, they start small but regular changes in their voices depending on their menstrual phase.

That’s why some girls, for example, will find their voice raspy on certain days of the month; they could struggle to produce low or high notes, or their vocal cords could feel swollen. In general, girls’ voices only drop by three tones during puberty.

What’s more, singing for teenagers during puberty is a phase where they regain confidence as puberty itself is a period where their self-esteem has ups and downs, and their singing matures as their bodies do.

Boys, for example, as they grow older, begin to become more aware of their voice and may start to reject their children’s singing voice, which is much in pitch, and favour a lower and seemingly more manly one, whereas girls, as mentioned earlier, start dealing with the regular changes of their voices due to their biological changes.

Therefore, having proper vocal training will help teenagers understand their voices better and keep going on the path to achieving their highest vocal potential as more changes are about to occur.

Man singing

Adulthood: Voice of a Titan

It is believed that adulthood is a milestone for the singing voice as the voice box becomes fully developed and the singing voice can reach its full potential.

For instance, the vocal folds for both men and women grow stronger, and so do the muscles supporting them, and as a result, the voice turns out to be stronger and more powerful.

Without a doubt, in adulthood, the vocal structure finds its most beetling change, especially for men, due to the influence of hormones, specifically testosterone.

Their larynx structure changes when their “Adam’s apple” richest its most prominent size, making the length of their vocal cords more prominent. On the contrary, a female’s singing voice will remain the same after puberty, although women’s vocal cords are also 20-30% thinner.

These shorter, thinner vocal cords are why women typically have higher voices than men.

Besides that, a woman’s voice may sound different depending on the stage of her menstrual cycle, with the best voice quality being in the ovulatory phase as the glands produce most mucus during this phase, giving the vocal cords their best functional ability and the phase where their singing voice has the lowest quality is logically the menstrual phase as a woman’s body also has a decrease in energy.

Although it is believed that the voice during adulthood tends to achieve its peak, some vocal coaches suggest that the singing voice may never be fully developed as the changes in our bodies never stop, and a singer should always pay attention to the new changes in their voices, look for ways to keep improving their instrument and especially take care of it.

Grand parents singing

Old Age: The Voice of the Experience

Even though as the years go by and around 45-50, men start losing muscle mass and muscle fibre, their larynx weakens, and women’s singing voice could become a little bit dry and hoarse during menopause, the changes in the singing voice will not be noticed until the 60s or 70s when the voice could get wobbly and hoarse, but surely this does not spell the end of the career of singers.

In fact, plenty of singers continue touring and performing during their old age.

Older singers’ voices may take on a different tone, but if the singer has taken care of their voice, their singing voice will still be recognisable.

The old age for the singing voice is a phase where the effects of the care the singer has given to their voice will appear.

The vocal cords, like any other muscle, are a physical thing, and to have a long and healthy career in singing depends on their use.

On the other hand, old age is also a good phase where people can start singing.

In the same way, physical activity is always recommended for older people to stay in shape; singing with proper vocal training will help their vocal cords stay in shape and continue to be healthy and apart from that, singing will benefit a lot to them in an emotional aspect making them feel relaxed and happy while discovering a new activity they can do.

All in all, the voice changes in many ways during our lifetime, and understanding our singing voice and how it changes with age will help unlock our full potential.

It’s not just about the physical changes themselves.

Understanding these changes and adapting to them is important to keep growing vocally.

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