Singing and Neuroplasticity: 6 Tips for Ageless Singing
By: Lisa Haupert, Ageless Grace Trainer and Shameless Singing Vocal Coach
Ageless Singing. Strong Singing. You singing.
There is a given with aging. Every year that you are alive, you are a year older. That’s all.
Most of the specifics about how we age are in large part, up to us. Yes, we can get a disease. Yes, gravity wins out on our skin and things might sag a bit. But for the most part, how we age is up to what habits we practice, and our mind-set.
When it comes to the voice, there are some specific givens about aging.
- The cartilages that are a part of our singing and speaking mechanism begin to ossify – to turn to bone. However, this may not be a bad thing. This may actually allow stronger closure of the vocal folds and less variability in the voice system since bone is more rigid than cartilage.
- The flexible, elastic layer of the non-muscular tissue of the vocal folds becomes less elastic.
- We are more prone to have a wider vibrato than we did in our youth.
But here’s the truth. Under normal conditions of health, good nutrition, and regular consistent exercise of the entire body, you can keep your intensity and vocal range well into your 70’s and beyond. Your physiological age is not necessarily your chronological age. You can have healthy singing.
What can you do to maintain the flexibility, strength, endurance, pitch range, and evenness in your voice?
6 TIPS FOR STRONG SINGING – FOR AGELESS SINGING
- Several times a day vocalize through a straw. Watch one of the world’s leading vocal scientist, Dr. Ingo Titze, demonstrate and have a lot of fun stretching, balancing, and developing his voice with this method.
- Become mindful of vocal fatigue. Notice when your voice tires or the pitch of your voice begins to drop or get crackly. Take a break and do some vocalizing through a straw or another semi-occluded vocal exercise such as some scales using a lip or tongue trill.
- If you’re having trouble or changes, seek out the advice of an ear, nose, and throat doctor who specializes in voice. You might simply have allergies or reflux that could be easily treated.
- Eat healthfully. Stay well hydrated. Exercise all the rest of yourself frequently. I highly recommend the Ageless Grace® program – Timeless Fitness for the Body & Brain.
- Keep a supportive and enthusiastic community around you who enjoy singing every bit as much as you do. Join a choir. Start a choir. Consider the Barbershop Harmony Society or the Sweet Adelines. These folks take their singing seriously all the while having a wonderful time. Even join me at the 2014 Harmony University, July 27-August 12, 2014 in Nashville.
- Take private lessons with a singing educator who understands how the voice really works, who tailors their lessons to the individual’s specific needs, who gets that this is your passion and supports you deeply in continuing to pursue it.
Singing and Neuroplasticity
But for these 6 Tips for Ageless Singing to work, you must make them a habit. Daily training develops and then reinforces all of the neuropathways that control your voice. It also keeps the muscles strong and responsive to the demands you place upon them. And awareness helps you catch any little changes or troubles before they become big ones.
We humans have the ability to learn and master new things at any age, to recall and regain skills we once had, and to keep things going that are already working for us. Scientists call it neuroplasticity. But we call it living life fully, anticipating that we will be able to continue those things we love and even develop new passions, no matter our chronological age – singing and neuroplasticity!
Go and do. Practice. Keep your thinking, body, and voice flexible and tuned up. Lift up your voice and SING!