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February 18, 2012

What's the lifespan of a singer's voice?

Discovery Channel:

Before Whitney Houston died last week, there was talk of the 48-year-old legendary vocalist staging a comeback. It wouldn't have been easy: Somewhere between the years of Houston mesmerizing fans with the resonating "you" in "I Will Always Love You" and the demise of Being Bobby Brown, Houston's voice had deteriorated.

What is the normal life span of a voice? Can training or techniques prevent aging of the vocal cords, and can surgery -- or a special gel -- correct it?

Think of a singer as an athlete, experts suggest. "Just like any other muscle, it's a physical thing," said Andrea Leap, a professional singer and voice instructor at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. "It depends on the use. If you stopped walking up the stairs every day, it would get harder. It's exactly the same thing for the voice. Muscles do lose strength and agility as they age, so more effort is required in continuing that."

Even with good health habits, however, vocal cords stiffen with age.

"As the vocal membranes are used more,they become fibrous and stiff with a diminished amplitude of vibration," said Dr. Steven Zeitels, Professor of Laryngeal Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

"Consequently you have to use more air pressure from the lungs to drive the vocal cords into vibration. This occurs from decades of voice use so that the vocal cords become worn out as an individual ages." Read more.

Heard Tony Bennett the other day and he still sounds great! Take care of that instrument folks - you can't go buy a new one.

Posted by acapnews at February 18, 2012 12:00 AM