Older singers may have a problem knowing when to quit. A singer's voice is a living instrument with no readily replaceable parts. Eventually, with age, the muscles of your voice mechanism atrophy exactly like the muscles in the rest of your body. So, my question is this: How does a singer know when it's time to hang it up?
Mick Jagger once said, "I'd rather be dead than sing 'Satisfaction' when I'm forty-five." Clearly he has had plenty of time to re-think his position on that brash pronouncement made in the bloom of youth. Jagger still brings a whirlwind of kinetic energy to the stage as he continues to perform and tour. He'll probably be going strong for the next twenty years.
The Rolling Stones aren't the only rock and roll dinosaur band still in action. Take, for example, Grand Funk Railroad, (Homer Simpson's favorite band!). They formed in the late Sixties and by 1970 were selling more albums than any other American rock band.
Recently I had an opportunity to hear the STILL amazing Grand Funk Railroad play an outdoor waterfront concert right down the street from where I live in the center of Nashville.
A journalist friend had given me a couple of media pass lanyards so we could get a good up-close view of the stage. I was especially curious to see how their voices were holding up after fifty years of living the rock and roll life.
Concert security must have thought we were with Rolling Stone Magazine because Wham! we were immediately ushered to the front row -- dead center and about ten feet from the Action. And the Action was incredible!
The lead singer Max Carl, who joined the band when they re-formed in 2000 and had originally fronted .38 Special, looks and sounds absolutely great! His is an edgy, but clear voice that could have belonged to a healthy 22-year-old. I could hear no sign of diminished vocal prowess.
Sitting that close gave me a front row view of the technique that seemed to be responsible. It was a treat to see good support in action and up that close. And Max was a model of good support. He stepped back and tucked his hips (often I use the word "tailbone" to be more descriptive) under his body to access his support as he approached each high note.
Now, why do I make such a big deal mention of this event?
Although there are additional factors that contribute to the longevity of vocal prowess, whole-body support remains, for me at least, at the top of the list. There's no magic bullet. Singing will always require a reliable power source.
But you can access and develop your support system so that you sing with your entire body working under you or you can let your throat do all the work. It's your choice. Only you can decide whether you want to be rockin' on stage at 80 or rockin' in a chair out on the back porch.