The answer is yes. In fact, research has shown that it makes a little more sense to be a singer when one is older than one’s age.
Dr. David Cone, Director of the Center for Theoretical Psychology at the University of North Texas in Dallas, has investigated the age-related differences between singing voice and other musical instruments for years. According to Dr. Cone, it is not surprising that some older musicians outperform others on certain musical exercises because their voices have become slightly smoother and/or softer since they have aged. He is quick to say, though, that it’s premature to draw any conclusions just based on one person’s singing voice.
Dr. Pinto-Sanchez also is quick to admit that he hasn’t found anything specific about the age difference between singers and other musicians. But he said, “What I see is that people are more focused on technique and not a lot about age.”
Some of the more popular singers are already in their 50s, while those who are still doing well in their 40s are often in their twenties, says Dr. Pinto-Sanchez. He estimates that the average lifespan of an opera singer over a life time is 40 years.
“We are just at the beginning of finding out what type of music is good with aging – whether it’s new music or old music,” Mr. Cone said.
And although singing age does make a difference, it’s not to the degree the singer has been singing for years. “For a musician, as you get older, you can learn new ways of singing or you can go in another direction,” says Dr. Cone. “But the other factor is how old a person is.”
In addition, age does seem to make a difference on the ability to see sounds in pitch. “In general when singing, there is a reduction in pitch perception, more so than the other factors,” says Dr. Cone.
How do we get older?
To date, we do not know exactly why old people start making more noise – if they can or not. Perhaps it depends on many factors such as the type of music they sing and the degree and type of health issues they face, Dr. Cone says. But in most people, aging does not appear to accelerate the aging process.
How old a person hears music can also affect how they perceive and sing a particular voice. Some older singers with fine pitch hearing could be hard pressed to
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