We know that a lack of exercise can weaken leg, arm and back muscles and affect an athlete’s performance. Now science has shown any significant break in singing can affect the quality of a singer’s voice.
Calling it a “use it or lose it” phenomena, researchers from Northwestern University and University at Buffalo gathered three groups of singers—kindergarteners, sixth-graders, and college students—and asked them sing back a musical sequence they has just heard. Researchers noticed overall improvement from kindergarten to eighth-grade in singing accuracy or, in other words, the ability to sing on pitch. The adults, however, did not fare well. On some of the tests, they scored just as high as the kindergarten groups, thereby showing a regression in ability.
Why did the adults get worse over time?
Steven Demorest, professor of music education at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, and his colleagues believe that we become less musical over time. Singing is encouraged early in our lives, from educational songs that we sing in elementary school to the middle school choir that’s open to any and all students. Yet, researchers fear that over time, our voice becomes judged and we’re told quite bluntly that we’re tone deaf or we don’t have it, as if singing were some innate talent. So, we stop singing and, with lack of practice, our realize our own low expectations.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Singing is “a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly,” Demorest says.“Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing.”
So, go ahead and sing. Keep singing because, with time and guidance, you will get better.
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