Can Older Singers Reach an F-Sharp or a G Without Suffering a Heart Attack, or Even Worse, Evoking Riotous Laughter?

My friend Ramesha Nani is a swell voice teacher, very compassionate and can-do. See his excellent professional website at or click the image.

Lately, Ramesha posted a couple of first-class YouTube videos on singing high notes (here and here).

I’ll make this short and sweet. I’ll be 81 in 11 days. Old age is not only a fatal disease for human beings, it’s well known, or commonly supposed, to destroy the voice.

I read a profile on Joan Baez in which she laughingly lamented that in her seventies she had to sing many of her songs in a lower register because she could no longer make the high parts ring as purely and sweetly as in the long-ago.

There’s a Hawaiian term that I learned from a tourist guidebook. It refers to any dangerous and/or scary activity — like a wipeout on a big wave, or a near-fatal fender-bender. The term is okole squeezer, and I’m pretty sure you can work out the meaning.

It applies very handily to singing the high stuff. Yet I’m here to tell you that even though I’m well beyond the last of a man’s seven decades, I can still belt out an F; and even a G# holds no terrors.

How is it possible? Three ways:

  1. I’m driven to distraction by the very able sopranos in our choir who show up at practice and can’t avoid screeching on the high bits. Gosh, I ponder — if only they could experience the mystical, miraculous magic of a long, long LONG warmup! There’s a famous vocal ensemble that sings low notes for at least an hour before their concerts to prepare their voices to sing the high notes easily and purely. Do it, ladies! You’ll love it.
  2. Sing daily. Ha-ha, I no longer need to warm up to sing a G. I can jump straight into “Mother of Wisdom” and sing the indecently high tenor part straight out of the blocks at 6 a.m. without strain. Ha-ha-ha-ha, young people, let’s see you do that! Actually, I feel for you and I’m here to help. If you want to sing well and change your life in the process, it’s really simple: when you hop in the car to go shopping, slip a CD of Swami Kriyananda’s songs in the player and warble away. You’ll be shocked by how much better you feel, and how much easier it will soon be to sing notes you thought should only be attempted by Cecilia Bartoli. I repeat: sing or chant daily, it will do wonders for your singing and your life.
  3. Watch Ramesha’s excellent videos and be sure to check out his wonderful remote and in-person, very affordable private tutoring offerings. (Don’t miss the fine articles on his blog. Ramesha is a wonderful writer.)