The change of voice in a woman due to menopause is an area that has not been given a lot of attention, though it is a thorn in flesh especially to those who engage their voices professionally, in pursuit of their talents and careers.
The Age Factor: Determining the Early Stages of Menopause
Just like the voice of a boy would change gradually as they go through adolescence, youth days and into adulthood, thanks to hormonal changes in their growing bodies, so do women voices as they go through menopause. It should be remembered that women start exhibiting menopausal symptoms as they are approach 40s, and this experience may last way into their 50s and 60s. The frustrations that come with handling the symptoms of menopause, coupled with voice changes can be enormous, leaving a woman under serious psychological torture, thus the need to vocalize their voices appropriately.
Vocal Symptoms of Menopause
There are several vocal symptoms that are great pointers to menopause:
- The tone may harden and become rigid
- Due to reduced* flexibility in the voice, the voice may exhibit dryness
- Disparity in the registration of voice may actually bring about a pushing of the voice
- Pressure on the tongue may have a direct bearing on the chest voice
- Case Study One: Soprano – A New York based singer had lost her upper range vocals as a result of menopause, save for earlier issues with her vocals for lack of proper training. The tension in her voice, actually at the tongue base, was quite notable, rendering her previously adventurous source of joy an uphill task. With Lindquest’s cuperto exercise, full voice sustenance and proper tongue bearing became a reality.
- Case Study Two: Mezzo Soprano – This case study is based on a Dramatic Mezzo, whose singing and career came almost came into a halt as a result of menopause. The feeling of completely losing on one’s voice called for serious support and encouragement, in order to successfully recover her vocal identity as well as sustainability of high voices. This was her experience, even before she could hit 60, taking about one and a half years and close to two years to totally overcome the challenges of the cuperto function into the higher range. Thanks to this endeavor in fighting the effects of menopause on her voice, she is back to her feet- not only physically but also mentally.
- Case Study Three: Mezzo-Soprano – At more than seventy years of age, this long serving teacher of Music and experienced vocalizer was not as unfortunate. She brings serious lessons in the lives of musicians and singers, with regard to consistency in training one’s voice accordingly. Her overcoming the wrath of menopause and its symptoms was much easier for she continued to practice singing and vocalizing. She did not overstretch the functionality of her muscles, but rather observed healthy musical tendencies.
- Case Study Four: Coloratura Soprano – The case in study here is that of a highly experienced Coloratura Soprano, with a rich background in cuperto functionality. She missed on this function later on in her singing journey, through overtasking her voice in different platforms. Her condition only deteriorated with the onset of menopause. With close to three years of tireless efforts, she was able to reverse these effects successfully.
Critical Exercises for the Menopausal or Post-Menopausal Singer
Menopausal or Post-Menopausal singers may need to seek professional help in an effort to restore their voices to normalcy. The recommended exercises are usually those to do with folds adduction, the middle register, the thin edges in light of the vocal folds, and the upper middle register. Their order and frequency should be as directed.
Given the sensitivity of the voice, especially for professional usage, one should be keen to seek and use treatment as advised by medical experts in consultation with the studio directors.