Keeping Your Voice Young

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on February 17, 2015

In my last post, I looked at the effects aging has on the voice.  Several of my readers have expressed concern about how this will affect their careers as journalists or voiceover artists.  In this post, you’ll see that if you stay in training now and take care of your voice it will pay off later in life.

Let’s start with the changes the articulators go through.  These include the jaw, tongue, lips, and teeth.  Arthritis can affect the jaw as we age.  As with arthritis in other parts of the body, exercise can keep things moving.  One of my favorite vocal exercises is to exaggerate the vowels in this simple, little sentence:  “You see Oz.”  By opening your mouth as widely as you can without any discomfort on the word, Oz, you can keep good mobility in the joints of the jaw.  Click here to read my post with more exercises that will keep the articulators facile.  And don’t forget dental care to keep your teeth in good shape.  Teeth affect articulation as well as resonance.

The next area that exercise can help is breathing.  As we age, our breathing can become more shallow.  Poor posture can contribute to this.  If the spine curves forward, we limit the movement of the diaphragm, which is our strongest muscle in breathing.  I’ve posted about breathing many times on this site.  If you look to the right, you’ll see a category link that will take you to these posts.  Click here for one that includes a video where I give you breathing exercises.  All the info you’ll find will help you maintain good breathing into old age.

The area that poses the biggest challenge for the aging voice is the change in the vocal fold (cord) tissue itself.  As I wrote in part 1 of this post, there are physiological changes that make a man’s voice become higher pitched and a woman’s voice drop in pitch with age.  The good news is this doesn’t usually begin until around 65.  If you plan to continue working at that point, you may have to adjust to the new pitch range.  Voiceover artists, for example, might market their voices differently.  It’s not the end of the world.  In the meantime, the best way to maintain your voice is to take the best care of it you can.  Check out my advice on drinking lots of water, not coughing excessively, and caring for your voice with a cold.  If you want a handy reminder, post the “Daily 10 for a Healthy Voice” somewhere so you can stay in training as you age.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. February 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thanks for your interest in my site. I’ll be happy to add you to my monthly email list to hear about my Voice Update, which is a post I put up the first of each month. If you have the rss you may not need to be on this list, but I’ll be happy to add you. Just send me a request by email to OnlineVoiceCoaching@comcast.net. And thanks again!

SETH February 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

GREAT column – GREAT advice. Thanks!

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. February 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Thanks, Seth! Glad you found this helpful.

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