“YOUR VOICE” IS DESIGNED TO SOUND EXCELLENT FOR A LIFETIME

I KNEW AT TEN

I begin this blog post with some random thoughts that have been rolling around in my head recently about “my voice.”  You see, some people are born into this world with a specific life mission.  They know, for certain, what they will do with their lifetime in their working career. 

I was one of those very lucky people.  Somehow, someway, at the tender age of ten, I knew my life would center around the use of “my voice” as an announcer/speaker/performer.  I just knew I was bound to achieve greatness in my life, utilizing “my voice.” 

Now, keep in mind, that at the age of ten, a boy’s voice still sounds very high.  It was not until a few years later, at puberty, that “my voice” would change to my lower predetermined range.  But that never mattered to me.  I knew, innately, that I would someday be on the radio. 

I loved listening to DJs spinning their tales and their records on air.  I seized every opportunity to learn more about them and made it my job to copy their sound.  My father, a very wise man, knew of my dreams.  He purchased my first portable tape recorder.  Thus began a ritual – spanning years – of spending evenings in my room recording music off the radio and grabbing the microphone and recording my voice after each record ended.  I was the announcer and I talked about that music, I read those commercials from the newspaper, and I worked on my delivery. 

MY VOICE WOULD BE MY CAREER

It has been a long, hard, and successful journey for me.  You may never have heard one of my radio shows, or my TV work, or listened to my voice-acting skills in commercials and narrations.  But they were out there, locally and nationally, and I achieved my goals.  Later, I performed as a standup comic for 15 years and later still as a university professor teaching voice, speech, and broadcasting courses.  But all of my dreams were dependent on one very important ingredient…  “my voice.” 

radio room control panel

image courtesy of Pixabay
image courtesy of Pixabay

I was determined that “my voice” must stay as clean, clear, and resonant as it sounded when I was young, until the day I celebrate my 80th birthday and even beyond.  That meant…no smoking ever, for me.  I made sure I avoided catching colds or viruses that would diminish “my voice.”  I knew that overworking “my voice” would have a negative impact and I even stopped talking, when necessary, to rest it.  These and other techniques I learned have helped me maintain my excellent sound.  I have a long way to go before birthday number 80.  So far, so good.  “My voice” still sounds strong, dependable, and steady. 

I WANT THE SAME HEALTH FOR YOU

Why would I bring this up?  I want to share with you my experiences on maintaining excellent vocal health throughout your life and give you the means to make it happen. 

picture of a stethoscope, courtesy of pixabay

If you’re older and you’ve noticed your voice doesn’t sound quite like it used to, it’s probably not your imagination.  It’s called presbyphonia.  Thanks to natural changes within the larynx or voice box that occur as part of the aging process, your voice can take quite a different character as you get older.

THE AGING VOICE

While many adults preserve their youthful voice into older age, there are some common changes you might notice:

older student doing voice over.

picture courtesy of pixabay
picture courtesy of pixabay

1.  “Your voice” sounds thinner.  The scientific term for this is vocal asthenia, and it describes a less rich, less resonant sound that is a common complaint among older adults.  As the multi-layered vocal cords or folds within the larynx suffer muscle loss over time, they often become thinner and less pliable.  Because they’re not vibrating as effectively, the resulting voice doesn’t have the “oomph” it used to deliver.

2.  “Your voice” sounds rougher.  Imagine your larynx as a musical wind instrument.  It requires effective vibration for a beautiful clear sound, and anything that interferes with the necessary closure of the vocal folds together will erode the quality of the sound you produce.  As vocal cords get stiffer with age, along with other insults to the larynx like reflux or smoking, they may become bowed and curve inward rather than vibrating tightly together.  The net result can be a scratchy, hoarse voice.

3.  “Your voice” is less loud.  Aging affects projection and volume of the voice as well.  In addition, while many older adults exercise regularly and maintain strong lung capacity, those with compromised respiratory systems may find their voices are quieter because they simply don’t have the breath support to maintain their former force and volume.

4.  “Your voice” pitch changes.  A woman’s pitch typically drops over time, whereas a man’s pitch actually rises slightly with age.  “We don’t know exactly why this occurs.  Like other vocal shifts, changes in pitch may also be due to atrophy of the muscles in the vocal folds, and in women, it may be thanks in part to hormonal changes leading up to and past menopause.

5.     “Your voice” has vocal fatigue.  If your voice starts strong but fades throughout the day, vocal fatigue may be to blame.  Like any fatigue, fatigue of the voice is use-related.  If your voice gets tired, it tends to feel worse in the evening compared with earlier in the day.  That’s when people feel it; dinner is usually a more social meal and having to push your voice to be heard can leave you feeling tired and isolated.”

AND WHAT YOURVOICEPROFESSOR HAS TO SAY

So, what is the “fix” to make sure “your voice” stays strong, no matter what your age?  Practicing so-called good “vocal hygiene” will help you to preserve “your voice.”

Always drink plenty of water, avoid screaming and yelling, and avoid smoking.  Don’t abuse your voice, especially when it’s compromised, such as during a cold or flu when your vocal cords are already swollen.  If you’re hoarse for more than two weeksespecially without a trigger like a cold or flu or if you are a long-time smoker – seek out the advice of your doctor since you may be at risk of a more serious problem like vocal cord nodules or even laryngeal cancer.  More minor issues like fatigue and diminished loudness can be improved through voice therapy, in which a speech specialist can help you use your voice more effectively and with less effort.

If you still have some dream chasing to do, learning how to use and keep your voice at its optimum sound throughout your life, will be crucial to your success.  Take the time to train, care, and feed “your voice” properly.  YourVoiceProfessor can help.  Each student that takes any of our 5 courses:

  1. PUBLIC SPEAKING
  2. VOICE ACTING
  3. SPEAKING VOICE
  4. ACCENT REDUCTION
  5. PODCASTING

first studies and learns about that vital topic of “Vocal Health.”  YourVoiceProfessor can help make sure “your voice” remains strong.  If you take good care of “your voice,” it will take good care of you…for a lifetime.


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BILL PATTI Founder & President at YourVoiceProfessor
Bill is an award-winning radio and TV announcer, voice-over talent, and college professor … (Read full bio) :