As a rule as the years pass women’s voices grow deeper and men’s voices get higher. Ask a blind person, or someone who hasn’t met you over the phone how old you are and you will get an idea of how well your voice is aging.
Soft tissue in the vocal tract alters with age ; our state of health also affects our voices. Arthritis can affect the jaw as we age. Poor dental care can affect resonance. Breathing can become more shallow. Poor posture can contribute to this – if the spine curves forward, we limit the movement of the diaphragm.
Deepness of voice is determined by the length of our vocal chords and in men this depends on the amount of testosterone received during puberty. Fortunately there are some ways to naturally increase testosterone such as eating more red meats, exercising and even having sex.
We can alter pitch consciously by singing a scale. But is it possible to permanently regain the voice of our youth?
Voice surgery is the most extreme option (see Something to Shout About.). But as vocal qualities are less innate than most people think, this may not be necessary. A speech therapist can be a worthwhile investment. In fact transgender people often succeed in changing their voices successfully due to speech therapy. Voice quality is often THE most important factor in the change-over. Speech therapists use machines that detect voice frequency and teach their patients to re-pitch their voice permanently (see My Dad Is A Woman). Social factors are equally important. The way we speak depends on how our parents and teachers spoke, and learning a new way from a professional is simply repeating this learning process. With practice it is astonishing how radically a voice can be changed with a little effort.
One way to start re-pitching our voice is to hit a target pitch and hum at it, then count and then begin with actual sentences. YouTube videos on finding your female/male voice can help with this.
It would therefore seem physical factors – including age – are less important in the way we speak than many of us believe. Subconsciously we may adopt the voice of an older person because this is how we believe people speak at that age. Older women often speak with a lower voice to reflect their increased confidence. It is well-known PM Margaret Thatcher used speech therapy to lower her voice to project confidence in the House of Commons. Subconscious beliefs are the most powerful determinant of aging. They should never be underestimated.