Are you going through some vocal changes as you reach adolescence? If so you may be wondering what lies ahead and what it means for your burgeoning music career. So does your singing voice get better with age?
Well, the answer is yes – and no. It takes on a different sound, rather than one that’s seen as better or worse. But it does become more mature and combined with practice, that’s certainly a good thing.
The human voice goes through various physical changes as its ages, which all have an effect on your vocals. Find out what to expect over the next few years, by reading this article.
Does your singing voice get better after puberty?
Your singing voice will change during adolescence, early adulthood, and can then change again in later life. Age and practice, rather than puberty itself, can improve your voice. The more years you’ve been singing, the more experience you have. Your singing voice won’t miraculously get better the older you get. But as your vocal cords and voice box grow and mature in early adulthood, it allows your voice to expand and develop. This does mean you’ll be able to do more with it.
With time and experience comes a better singing technique, more vocal stamina, and stronger, better–executed performance. Early adulthood is a milestone for the singing voice because the voice box becomes fully developed and the singing voice is able to reach its full potential.
Singers generally notice that the peak of their voices is reached in adulthood. But they then start to deteriorate in later years. Getting older can bring your singing voice on leaps and bounds. Becoming more familiar with your vocal ability and taking singing lessons will undoubtedly help you sing better.
How does puberty affect the singing voice?
A boy’s voice will change between the age of 12 and 16. The vocal cords grow and adapt like the rest of the body, and the voice goes through changes to accommodate for this. Boys can experience loss of pitch, squeakiness, a husky voice and loss of notes when they sing. A previously angelic choir boy type sound will likely not return, although some of that quality may linger and grow into something more age-appropriate.
Girls experience changes in their voice during puberty too, but not as noticeably as boys. The experience is different for everyone, but some girls will find their voice is raspy on certain days of the month, they struggle to produce low or high notes, or their vocal cords feel swollen.
Check out how these famous artists sounded before they hit puberty.
Adolescent voice change and singing
Even after puberty, your body still undergoes hormonal and physiological development. The vocal folds grow stronger, and so do the muscles supporting them. This allows your voice to get stronger and more powerful.
Sadly, like the rest of your body, your voice can start to decline in later life. Your voice can start to thin, wobble, and change pitch. This doesn’t spell the end, though, plenty of singers continue singing well into their autumn years.
Can you lose your singing voice after puberty?
Post puberty voice loss is incredibly rare indeed. So not something to worry about. You will lose your old sound to some degree but develop a new, more grown-up one. Understanding your singing voice and how it changes with age will help you unlock your voice’s full potential. It’s not just about the physical changes; it’s important to understand the other key factors that help your voice develop.
When does your voice fully develop?
There’s no universal age when a singer’s vocals reach their peak. It depends on the singer and how often they train their voice.
Reaching your peak vocal performance relies on several many factors. Your physiological development (the growth and maturation of your body), your technical development (improving your skills and singing technique), and your experience all play a part in developing your voice.
These can all happen at different rates. Your voice will mature and improve with time and physical and technical development. Reaching your peak comes with dedication and hard work, as well as age.
Getting older won’t miraculously improve your singing. It’s the experience and practice that comes with age that improves your vocals. Your voice can change in lots of ways during your lifetime and reaching vocal peak and maturity varies from person to person.
When does your singing voice mature?
Different people mature at different rates, in terms of the body and brain. And this applies to your voice too. But generally speaking, singers usually see their singing voice start to really come on between the age of 20 to 30.
Voices that have a deeper, heavier tone typically take longer to fully develop. But vocal coach Roger Burnley suggests that your singing voice may never be fully developed – that as you grow older, your voice will constantly be changing, and you should always be looking for ways to improve.
The type of music you sing can also affect how long it takes your voice to develop. Opera singers, for example, have to wait longer for their voices fully develop. Their lungs and abdominal muscles need years of training and development to be able to project their voice over the orchestra, and basses sometimes don’t peak until middle age.
How long after puberty does your voice change?
The biggest changes to your voice will happen during puberty and will usually end by the age of 18. Your adult pitch is then reached 2 or 3 years later. But your voice won’t completely stabilise until early adulthood.
The female voice can take up to four years to fully change and stabilise, and this usually starts to happen around the age of 10. Boy’s singing voices can take up to 2 years after puberty to mature. Your voice can carry on changing through your 20’s, and even into your 30’s. You may physically stop growing at the end of adolescence, but your singing voice and vocal apparatus can continue to develop in early adulthood. A lot of vocal training and advancement can happen during your 20’s, and this can change the sound and quality of your voice.
Your vocal cords grow stronger after adolescence, and so do the supporting muscles in your chest, abdomen, and neck with proper practice and training. Building a stronger vocal apparatus will help your voice grow and will also strengthen your singing voice.
Puberty voice change symptoms
Let’s go into a little more depth as to what happens in terms of your physiology.
Your vocal cords change when you hit the point of puberty. Before becoming a teenager, your voice box sits higher in your neck. The vocal folds change and get thicker and bigger as a result of puberty, and your voice box moves further down.
Like the rest of your body, your vocal cords slowly change and age over the course of your life. As you get older, the fibres in your vocal folds become stiffer and thinner and your larynx cartilage becomes harder. This limits the voice and is why elderly people’s voices can sound “wobbly” or “breathier”.
Can your voice get higher during puberty?
Not usually. Both gender’s voices will get lower. The pitch of a male singing voice gets higher with age, but not straight after puberty, rather much later on. Girl’s voices change during puberty, but not as dramatically as a boy’s pitch. The male voice develops a jumping pitch during adolescence and drops an octave lower, while a girl’s voice only drops by about three tones.
A female’s singing voice will largely stay the same after puberty. It might deepen slightly when a woman reaches middle age and can become dry and hoarse during the menopause. Staying hydrated with plenty of water is helpful at this stage. And it’s a good habit to get into at any age, including adolescence.
Singing voice changes with age
After puberty, a boy’s voice becomes much deeper. As a result, he might lose some of his range and not be able to hit such high notes. There’s no way to reverse these vocal changes as the voice deepening during adolescence is a natural, normal process. But there are ways to train your voice to reach higher notes. A good breathing technique will help your voice reach a higher range. Sit or stand up straight and breathe through your diaphragm, never your nose. Open your mouth more as you sing and point your chin down. Keeping your tongue pressed down while you sing will also help prevent your high notes sounding thin.
The best age to start a singing career
So where does all this leave you with your singing career? Remember, there’s no set age you should start singing and you don’t need to wait until you’re post-pubescent. Some singers discovered their passion and were consequently discovered by record executives at a young age. Others didn’t until later in life. Singing is just an extension of talking. So as soon as you’re old enough to talk, you can sing. If you want to take singing lessons, vocal coaches recommend the best age to start training is after puberty (which is typically between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys). This is because your voice is more settled and sounds more mature.
The message is that there’s no magic wand to make your voice sound incredible. But neither will puberty ruin your voice, so you don’t have to worry about that. But it will adapt as you change and that will open new doors for you as a young vocalist. Once you’re on the other side of puberty, you can start experimenting with advanced techniques like falsetto and whistle register. It’s an exciting time, so embrace it and see where it takes you.
- Will my voice get better if I keep singing?
Like anything, you improve with practice. Your vocals become stronger, more defined and better controlled the more you do it. The caveat here is that you’ll only get better if you have a decent technique. Watch some online tutorials or read some of our articles on singing tips to identify this.
- Can I sing during puberty?
Yes, but you’ll need to be gentle. Don’t be tempted to force it into places it doesn’t want to go. A good rule of thumb is to be as careful with your vocals as you might be when you have a cold or sore throat. Choose relatively easy repertoire and achievable exercises.
- Does your singing voice get better with age?
Lots of variables affect your singing voice, and age is one of them. Increased maturity doesn’t just affect how your voice sounds and how your vocal cords perform, how old you are can also influence your singing technique, ability, and performance.
Do you think your singing voice got better after puberty? Perhaps you’re in the middle of the process right now and struggling with the changes. Share your experiences in the comments below.