Do you hear that? Tik-tock. Tik-tock. That is the sound of your life rapidly approaching a mid-life crisis. You could have sworn that you were twenty-one only just yesterday. Then you blinked your eyes and whoa! FORTY YEARS OLD? How did this happen, you are thinking to yourself. There are so many things you wanted to do before you reached this stage of your life: pen a book; take art classes; try that cooking course, test your voice with some singing lessons. But the sudden realization hit you that you didn’t get to try those things yet, and this is your life now. You feel unfulfilled because although your body might have aged twenty-something years, your mind is still feeling young enough to know that you are not too old to hone skills in 2020. With how inconceivable this year has been, it could still yield some good results!
Or are you just kidding yourself? These days it seems the older and wiser we become, the more insignificant society tends to make us feel. It is an unfortunate truth that western civilization discards the elderly like yesterday’s trash. In fact, Koshin Paley Ellison, Buddhist monk, and co-founder of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care stated in a 2014 article published by Huffington Post, “There’s so much shame in our culture surrounding aging and death. People themselves when they’re aging feel that there’s something wrong with them and they’re losing value.”
That mentality pisses me off, quite frankly. Who on earth decided we lose our value the moment we leave our twenties? What a bunch of hogwash! Oh you don’t believe it could happen to you at only forty years old? Try climbing the corporate ladder at thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty in 2020 with younger individuals hungry enough to deem your experience irrelevant. And don’t get me started on today’s advancing technology. As a child of the eighties, I never thought I would reach the point in my life where I found it overwhelming to keep up with today’s devices or communication. DMs, PMs, Snapchat, what? What is all of this? Call me on the phone if you want to talk to me! Am I right?
If you are thinking you are too young to experience age discrimination at your age, you would be right. There is still a lot of life left in us and plenty for us to do! It is all about mindset. I am not old, and neither are you! By the way, growing old is not a bad thing; it is a testament to the strength you have to still be living for so long! But apparently, our society seems to be suffering from gerascophobia, which is the fear of getting older and is common amongst most groups of people. And if at our age we already experience anxiety just by opening up our Instagram pages, how could we think we would be capable of trying something new? I can’t keep up with my daily errands. Why should I pile more onto my already full plate when I feel like I’m too old to hone skills that could cause me more frustration?
Personally, I find trying new things at my age proves to younger generations that we older folks can be great examples of how to grow older. And that life doesn’t end once you turn thirty. But more importantly, there are several health benefits to picking up new hobbies at various stages of your life. Cesar Quilian, M.D. advises, “Though it’s harder for the brain to learn a new skill as you age, several studies show that taking on this challenge can lead to improved memory function and brain health.” Improving your health by learning something new sounds like a no-brainer to me (pun intended)! Does the fact that learning new things can be harder for an older brain concern you? That is understandable, which is why it is a good idea to make sure whatever you choose to do brings you joy. There are plenty of hobbies out there that can fulfill this need, but one that stands out is the joy of learning how to sing. An advantage to picking up vocal studies is you already possess the number one tool you need to become successful: your own, unique voice!
Come on, admit it. You always wanted to learn how to sing because you do it all the time! We all casually sing in the shower. Sometimes we hum a familiar tune to ourselves while performing a mundane task. On your way to work during rush hour traffic, your favorite playlist starts and you then belt out those high notes. Did you ever stop and notice how you felt after you sang along to the radio -er, your playlist (don’t forget you’re talking to an eighties chick here)? You felt better. Your mood was elevated. Those happy endorphins kicked in. Which is great for the soul, but let’s face it. Singing can also be scary, especially if you are thinking about singing for an audience one day.
Have no fear because according to Kristy Bissell, a certified voice teacher located in the NY / NJ area, “Everyone has the right to sing and everyone should sing. Your voice can be [taught to do] anything.” Future students of the voice, take note.
It is time to put the fears of being too old to hone skills aside, and turn your shower voice into a trained one! Your vocal skills, whether lacking or substantial, are safe with Kristy, who received her Master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Shenandoah University, with a focus on Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM). An accomplished performer, well-rounded musician, and having taught over six hundred students of all ages, Kristy provides a creative and nurturing approach to teaching individuals how to properly use their voice for singing any style. She believes that although proper vocal training is critical to success, the “perfect singer” does not exist, and instead encourages her students to focus on being happy singers. You can listen to Kristy’s singer discussions with other industry professionals on her podcast here. Because at the end of the day, that is what singing at any age is all about; happiness. Talk about a true pressure reliever!
Not only does learning to sing properly provide self-discovery and a sense of accomplishment, it does something else just as valuable, if not more so. Singing provides service to others; a seemingly forgotten notion in these dark, offensive times. Can we agree that everyone could use a little lifting up right now? As Kristy encourages on her web site, “Can you imagine putting…faith, love, and dedication into your performing? Imagine the kind of impact you can make with what you do. Instead of making it about YOUR success – what about putting it onto others? I guarantee you will find success in that and maybe even, just maybe, happiness.” Learning to sing for others will bring joy to not only you but your loved ones as well. Choosing to take voice lessons will make you an encouraging example to your age group, and before long others will sing your praises!
By: Dana Nuzzo