Why Do Some Singers Seem to Last Forever?
A very good Monday morning to all of you gorgeous singers/teachers of singing. Can you guys believe how fast this summer has flown by? I'm not quite ready to face the idea of Fall yet, so I'm going to continue to bask in the beautiful sun whenever possible!
A Singer is Injured
Recently a very famous singer had to cancel the last few nights of her sold out world tour due to a vocal injury. As many of you may have already figured out, I am speaking of Adele.
This is the second time she's had to cancel a portion of a tour due to an injury and it made headlines around the world. If you type in "Adele's vocal injury" on Google you will find no less than 328,000 search results, and in those results you find hundreds of vocal coaches speculating on why this happened, and how she could've had prevented the injury from happening in the first place. It seems every vocal coach has the "answer" to all vocal issues.
So I am NOT going to speculate on why Adele injured her voice. I have said it from the moment I heard the news that "this is between her, her vocal coach and her laryngologist Dr. Steven Zeitels". Dr. Zeitels by the way was my voice doctor when I was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston eons ago, and I can tell you this guy is a genius. So our dear Adele is in good hands and I am sure she will be back in fighting shape in no time!
What I do want to discuss in this post is why some singers seem to last forever (I like to keep things on the positive side if you have not already figured that out).
Singers That Last Forever
Recently I read an interview with the great Franki Valli of the Four Seasons. Anyone who has ever heard or tried to sing any of the songs of the Four Seasons like "Sherri", "Walks Like A Man" or "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" knows how difficult these songs are. They sit at the very top of the male falsetto range, and and hardly ever come down from the stratosphere. Mr Valli at the time of this writing is 83 years old and is still touring constantly, singing all of those stratospheric hits nights after night, year after year. Some of the keys of the songs have been dropped a little, but even in a slightly lower key they are still very high. How does Mr Valli manage to keep singing these songs so beautifully (by all accounts) at the age of 83?
In an interview with The Telegraph last year, they asked Mr. Valli how he managed to keep his voice in such pristine shape so far into his career. He said:
"“I go through scales, maybe some Sinatra, some standards for 35 or 40 minutes, sometimes an hour. I take very long showers. You have to sing every day, a little bit, to keep the voice in shape. It’s like lifting weights.”
I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t play golf, I don’t play tennis, I don’t hike, I don’t ski. I like to sing. I’ve been doing it my whole life".
Dr. Evelyn Reynolds
I have mentioned my voice teacher Maestro David L. Jones on many occasions in these posts. The Maestro has been my primary voice teacher for 18 years. In that 18 years I am sure I have added a few decades onto the lifespan of my voice due to the wonderful concepts and vocal exercises of the Swedish/Italian school of singing. Maestro Jones has been working with his own wonderful vocal coach, Dr Evelyn Reynolds for decades. Dr. Reynolds recently turned 100 and is still singing beautifully.
A few years ago Dr. Reynolds sang on one of Jones' masterclasses, and to this day those who attended that class will tell you that Dr. Reynolds voice sounded as young and fresh as someone in their 30's. Obviously being a vocal coach who teaches healthy vocal concepts has been a big contributing factor to Dr. Reynolds vocal longevity, but I think simply singing on daily basis is the key to her being able maintain a healthy voice.
There are many more examples of singers who have lasted five, six decades or more such as the great Tony Bennett, who at the age of 91 is still recording and giving concerts.
I think the simple lesson her is to "use it or lose it". The human voice is a miraculous piece of machinery capable of making more varied sounds than any other non-computerized instrument in the world. It is designed to last and serve us until our final breath. The voice needs to be nurtured through hydration, nutrition, rest and plenty of daily exercise.
Sing often and sing well. Study with a voice teacher who can give you the tools to keep your voice healthy for a lifetime.
If you don't have a coach and you are in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, I offer voice lessons to singers of all genres and ages 11 to 100! If you are not in the NY/NJ area I offer lessons online via Skype to singers throughout the world.
If you are looking for some fantastic vocal exercises, check out my instructional DVD/CD called "Let Your Voice Soar". We are currently offering the digital download (only) for 15% off from my website www.voicesoaring.com by adding "voicesoaring" in the checkout code.
Until next time, "Keep singing, and let your voice soar!"
Jeff Alani Stanfill - Voice Teacher & Vocal Coach for Pop, Rock, and Broadway singers. Voice Lessons in West Orange, New York, & Online.