How to Strengthen the Adult Voice
When vocal teaching artist Jerry Rubino works with older singers in MacPhail’s Voices of Experience choir, he’s noticed that many times singers new to the group don’t know what part they sing.
“They start out thinking they’re all tenors and altos,” he explains. “They think they aren’t sopranos because they can’t sing high notes anymore. Then we work on vocalizing and energy and suddenly, they’re hitting the high notes.”
MacPhail Music for Life ™ vocal teaching artist Andrea Leap stresses that it’s not the singer’s fault if it takes them longer to find their pitch as they age. “Just like every other thing that happens to your body when you age, you lose muscle mass on all the muscles that help you sing,” she explains. “That includes the breathing muscles and the muscles that support the actual function of tone: things like your tongue and vocal cords all become a bit thinner, weaker, and less flexible.”
Luckily, just like all muscles, the voice can be strengthened.
Tips to Strengthen the Adult Voice
Take the stairs in your office or enjoy a brisk walk around the block. Anything that gets you winded to promote the full movement of the diaphragm. You can even do it sitting in a chair if you think about it—although Andrea points out that you often have to move it to remember not to lose it.
Read a Book
One of the first things actors are taught is to project, and Jerry believes that singers should be taught the same thing. Oftentimes, the voice has trouble going both louder and higher at the same time. He advises taking out a book at home and reading aloud, with variety. “Change the pitch, go higher or lower, speak softer or louder,” he suggests.
Sing During Chores
The advice to move and phonate at the same time sounds complicated, but Andrea has a simple way to incorporate it into what you’re already doing: “Sing the National Anthem while making the bed, doing the dishes, or picking up socks off the floor.” Anything that involves singing while not just standing in one position will do the trick.
Do a Little at a Time – And Enjoy It
Jerry likens strengthening the voice for training for a race. “If you’re going to run a marathon, you don’t just go out the next day and run 26 miles. You start gradually and build up your technique.” If you work at it little by little, your voice will be set to maintain during a longer choral piece.
Andrea encourages her students to find whatever it is that keeps them singing. “For some people, that’s singing in the shower. It may be joining a choir. It may be singing at the top of your lungs in the car. Whatever it is, it’s the regularity that helps you keep it up.”