If you’re going through puberty or noticing vocal changes as you mature, you may be wondering what’s happening and what you should expect.
Our vocal cords and the sounds we make are impacted by growth and the ageing process. So when does your singing voice full develop? This will depend on your gender, whether you train, the type of music you perform, and how often you sing.
In this article, we’ll explain what’s involved in vocal development and how you can help it along, so you become the very best singer you can be.
When does your singing voice fully develop?
There are many variables that contribute to how you sound when you sing – and chronological age is one of them. But it doesn’t just affect how your voice sounds and how your vocal cords perform. The years you’ve been doing it can also influence your singing technique, ability, and performance.
Your singing voice will change during adolescence, early adulthood, and can then change again in later life. And the longer you sing, the more experience you get, which in turn affects your vocal development, gives you more vocal stamina, and stronger, better–executed songs.
Singing voice changes with age
Early adulthood is a milestone for the singing voice. This is because the voice box fully develops, so the singing voice is able to reach its full potential. But there’s no universal age when a singer’s vocals reach their peak. It depends on the singer and how often you train their voice.
There are a number of factors that chart the changes associated with getting older. 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 growing up.
There’s no set age you should start singing and you certainly don’t have to wait till you reach vocal maturity. Some singers discovered they have a talent for it at a young age; others don’t even try until much later. As soon as you’re old enough to talk, you can enjoy singing. It’s one of the most natural things in the world and participating in musical activities is excellent for learning and cognitive development.
At what age does your voice fully develop?
If you want to take serious singing lessons, vocal coaches recommend the best age to start training is after puberty. At this point, your voice is more settled and sounds mature. Your vocal cords go through several changes during the course of your life and change dramatically during adolescence. That doesn’t mean you can’t have singing lessons before puberty or even during it though. They just won’t be as vocally intense until you reach this stage of life.
Like the rest of your body, your vocal cords slowly change and age over the course of your life. Over time, 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”.
When does the male voice fully develop?
A boy’s voice will change between the age of 12 and 16. The vocal cords grow and change 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.
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.
When does the female voice fully develop?
Girls undergo changes in their voice during puberty too, but not as noticeably as boys. 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. The experience is slightly different for everyone. But some girls find their voice is raspy on certain days of their menstrual cycle.
At these times they may struggle to produce low or high notes or find that their vocal cords feel swollen. 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.
Does your singing voice get better after puberty?
Boy’s singing voices can take up to 2 years after puberty to mature. A girl’s singing voice will largely stay the same after puberty. It might deepen slightly when a woman reaches middle age and become dry and hoarse during the menopause.
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 become more powerful, especially if you work it and practice.
Puberty voice change – sore throat
Your vocal cords change when you hit 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 the puberty process, and your voice box moves further down.
Understanding your singing voice and how it changes with age will help you unlock your full vocal potential. It will also help you to avoid vocal damage and strain. If you’re going through puberty and your voice is changing, be gentle with it. You don’t need to stop singing and miss out, but do work stick with techniques that’ll help you protect it and avoid any strain.
Any damage done as a child or teen can be long-lasting. So while your voice, like your body, is resilient when you’re young, it’s also still growing and you don’t want to carry bad habits or problems into adulthood.
Voice change after 18
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.
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 tends to 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.
When does your voice fully mature?
Everyone’s voice changes as they get older, whether they sing or not. As you grow up, there are various physical milestones that can affect your voice (and in turn, your singing voice): Different people mature at different rates, and this applies to your voice too. Voices that have a deeper, heavier tone typically take longer to fully develop. As you grow older, your voice will constantly be changing, and you should always be looking for ways to improve it.
The type of music you sing can also affect how long it takes your voice to grow. Opera singers, for example, have to wait longer for their voices to be ready for the demands of classical music. Their lungs and abdominal muscles need years of training and development to be able to project through a theatre and over the orchestra. And bass singers sometimes don’t peak until as far as middle age (around 45 – 55).
Singing after 50
If you want singing to be your lifelong career, the thought of losing your singing voice when you get older can be nerve-wracking. But your singing voice isn’t finite; it won’t just disappear when you reach later life.
You won’t notice any huge changes to your voice until your 60’s and 70’s when the larynx starts to weaken. Your voice can get wobbly and hoarse. But this doesn’t spell the end of your singing career. Plenty of musicians still tour and perform in their 70’s and 80’s. Check out The Rolling Stones still rocking it in 2020.
Your vocal cords aren’t the only thing that determines your sound. The shape of your nose, the size of your tongue, the shape of your palate and even your style as a performer all contribute to the personality and tone of your voice. These won’t change with age, so you won’t ever lose your singing voice just because you’ve got older. Training your voice from a young age will help it to stay strong and full. So start now and your future voice will benefit.
- Does singing improve over time?
Your singing voice won’t miraculously get better the older you get. Your vocal cords and voice box will grow and mature in early adulthood, and this allows your voice to grow and develop. But it’s the practice, technique, and experience that comes with age which will really improve your voice.
- Does singing make you look younger?
Yes! The facial movement involved in singing and vocal exercises help tone the muscles in your face, helping to ward off wrinkles and lines. The deep breathing required ensures a good flow of oxygen around your body which also contributes to good skin.
- Can your singing voice get worse?
Like the rest of your body, your voice can start to decline in later life if you don’t work at it. Your voice can start to thin, wobble, and change pitch. This doesn’t spell the end, though, plenty of singers continue singing into their later years.
When did your singing voice fully develop, or is in the process of change right now? Have you got any tips for other singers going through puberty and voice break? Let us know in the comments below.