The Evolving Singing Voice: Changes Across the Lifespan

First Edition

Karen Brunssen

Details: 331 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-043-1

© 2018 | Available

For Instructors

Request 90 Day Exam Copy


Add to Cart

The Evolving Singing Voice: Changes Across the Lifespan examines how the human vocal instrument transforms from infancy through old age. Synthesis of this unique and comprehensive approach is beneficial to singers, voice teachers, and voice professionals across a broad spectrum of ages.

At every age, vocal function is dependent upon how the body is progressively and constantly changing. The Evolving Singing Voice discusses these changes and their direct impact on the singing voice. A deeper understanding of chronological development offers a "lifetime perspective" for optimal, realistic potential at every age.

With the information available in The Evolving Singing Voice, singers and voice pedagogues can begin to see logical and useful correlations between age, vocal function, and vocal expectations over the course of an individual's singing life.

Key Features

  • Coverage of respiration, vibration, resonation, and expectations for each stage of life
  • Practical, age-related exercises and concepts
  • "Vocal Bundles" to encourage self-evaluation and improve vocal facility. Each bundle includes:
    • Sign of the Vocal Age
    • Technical Issue or Normal Age-Related Issue
    • Exercise
    • Mindful Concept
    • 5 day Mini-Challenge consideration


In this episode of VocalFri, guest Karen Brunssen talks about her path in singing, the challenges of serving as NATS President during COVID-19, why she loves her 5-Day Mini-Challenge, and much more. Listen here


"Now a recognized leader with a remarkable record of publications and presentations on the topic, Brunssen has written a comprehensive book titled The Evolving Singing Voice: Changes Across the Lifespan. Tracking the natural, chronological order of human voice development, the book includes sections devoted to newborns, infants, children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and the “senescent” (or aging) singer. Chapters highlight the structural changes
that occur within the body and larynx at each stage. The book also offers training guidelines as well as reasonable expectations for appropriate vocal sound based on the specific needs, capabilities, and limitations determined by each stage of development.

The Evolving Singing Voice is well-referenced and up-to-date, as we have come to expect from the resources put out by Plural Publishing. Indeed, though the book was released in June 2018, many citations come from sources published as recently as 2017.

The book is steeped in reliable voice science, but Brunssen makes no assumptions about each reader’s background. By defining pertinent terms and concepts along the way, she ensures that a wide audience can access and understand the information presented.

. . . Although change of any kind can be both terrifying and exhilarating, especially when it is related to something as personal as the human voice, Brunssen’s writing may change the mind of anyone who feels that high quality, sustainable, enjoyable singing can only occur during the limited years of
peak performance capabilities. By outlining the most common and predictable vocal changes that occur over a lifetime and offering reliable training regimens for each stage,
The Evolving Singing Voice is a dependable resource for singers and those entrusted with guiding their vocal development."
—Brian Manternach, in VOICEPrints Vol. 16, no. 3, January-February 2019 © NYSTA

“[…]The book is well-organised with contributions from clinicians as well as information gathered from singing teachers working in the field. The first thing I appreciated when opening the book was the organisation of functional elements of voice under the four headings of Respiration, Vibration, Resonance, Expectations. Vibration is a newish buzz word that allows a more intuitive understanding of the elements of phonation in singing, including register mechanisms. […]
For me the standout sections of the book are The Adolescent Years and Young Adult. There is a wealth of practical information here that will be useful to any teacher working with these age-groups. The Adolescent Years, co-written by Chadley Ballantyne, includes excellent, reader friendly information on the acoustics of resonance and source-filter interaction – a topic that can frighten many singing teachers. Ballantyne makes it simple, understandable and relevant. There is also a sub-heading on orthodontics and a useful sample ‘Vocal Evaluation’ checklist.

The Young Adult section includes a self-evaluation checklist for students and recommendations for choir singing, Musical Theatre and CCM styles. I especially liked ‘Tying it all together with language and speech motor control’. […]

I very much liked the unpacking of SOVT – how and why it works – and the variations from semi-occluded to fully occluded transitory postures. I’d recommend this section to any singing teacher who is experimenting with SOVT, getting results but perhaps not understanding why. […]

Overall, there is a lot of useful information in the book. It’s clear that the main contributors are highly knowledgeable, and the many excellent references to voice science are well-explained. Relevant aspects of vocal physiology and function are set out in an accessible manner and the information from clinical practice that a singing teacher or voice educator might need is also good. References are also given at the end of each chapter which readers will find useful for further research. […] I would recommend this book for serious singing teacher to have on their shelves as a reference and resource and for the book to be on the reading list of generalist vocal pedagogy courses.”

—Dr Gillyanne Kayes, in Communicating Voice (Autumn/Winter 2019)


Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Newborn, Infant, and Child
From the Teachers

Chapter 3. Adolescence
Chadley Ballantyne and Karen Brunssen
From the Teachers

Chapter 4. Young Adult
Many Styles-Many Techniques
From the Students

Chapter 5. Adult
Avocation or Career

Chapter 6. The Senescent Singer
Aaron M. Johnson and Karen Brunssen
From the Teacher

Chapter 7. Medical Assessment Across the Lifespan: Laryngeal Imaging, Perceptual and Acoustic/Aerodynamic Assessment
Michiel Bové, Nathan Waller, and Peter Wagreich
A Review of Anatomy and Physiology Across the Lifespan
Clinical Assessment and Laryngeal Imaging of the Aging Voice
Adult Voice Disorders Assessment: The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist
Pediatric Voice Disorders Assessment: The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Chapter 8. Training Tools Across the Lifespan
The 5-Day Mini-Challenge
Five Day and Six-Week Rule
Onset Exercises
Pharyngeal Stretches
Support Feedback from a Chair
Falsetto/Giggedy-Gaggedy-Goo Sequence
Learning and Teaching Styles
The 5 Textures of Singing
SOVTE - Semi-Occlusive Vocal Tract Exercises (By Chadley Ballantyne and Karen Brunssen)
Chadley's "Weird" Exercise
50 Quick Comments for Singers Through the Lifespan
Vocal Evaluation
Vocal Bundling


Karen Brunssen

Karen Brunssen is Associate Professor of Music at the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she teaches voice and is Co-Chair of Music Performance.  She is a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award. She is a frequent teacher, clinician, and adjudicator for organizations, colleges, and universities throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Presentations chronicle how changes in respiration, vibration and resonance impact realistic, age appropriate expectations for singing throughout a lifetime.  She has done teaching residencies at Cambridge University, returns regularly to teach at the Zürcher Sing-Akademie in Switzerland, has presented or been a panelist for NATS, Opera America, ACDA, IFCM, NCCO, and Chorus America, and taught at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, and the Castleton Music Festival.  She begins her two-year term as president of the National Association of Teachers of Singing in June, 2018, served as a Master Teacher for the NATS Intern Program, was 2016 NATS National Conference Program Chair, Governor of Central Region NATS, President of Chicago Chapter NATS, and is a member of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing.  Her singing career spanned over 30 years throughout the US and Europe.  She received her undergraduate degree from Luther College and has done graduate work at Yale University and Kent State University.  In 2013 she was presented with the Weston Noble Award by Luther College.

Learn More

Cross-Training in the Voice Studio: A Balancing Act

First Edition

Norman Spivey, Mary Saunders Barton

Details: 151 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-037-0

© 2018 | Available

The Singing Teacher's Guide to Transgender Voices

First Edition

Liz Jackson Hearns, Brian Kremer

Details: 211 pages,B&W, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-093-6

© 2018 | Available

The Female Voice

First Edition

Jean Abitbol

Details: 250 pages, Full Color, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-936-1

© 2019 | Available

Manual of Singing Voice Rehabilitation: A Practical Approach to Vocal Health and Wellness

First Edition

Leda Scearce

Details: 444 pages, B&W, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-568-4

© 2016 | Available

Mind-Body Awareness for Singers: Unleashing Optimal Performance

First Edition

Karen Leigh-Post

Details: 264 pages, B&W, Softcover, 8.5" x 11"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-444-1

© 2014 | Available

Body and Voice: Somatic Re-education

First Edition

Marina Gilman

Details: 272 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-509-7

© 2014 | Available

Choral Pedagogy and the Older Singer

First Edition

Brenda Smith, Robert T. Sataloff

Details: 368 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-438-0

© 2012 | Available

The Vocal Athlete.

Second Edition

Wendy D. LeBorgne, Marci Daniels Rosenberg

Details: 393 pages, B&W, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-163-6

© 2021 | Available

The Vocal Athlete: Application and Technique for the Hybrid Singer.

Second Edition

Marci Daniels Rosenberg, Wendy D. LeBorgne

Details: 157 pages, B&W, Spiral Bound, 8.5" x 11"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-164-3

© 2021 | Available

Diction in Context: Singing in English, Italian, German, and French

First Edition

Brenda Smith

Details: 345 pages, B&W, Softcover, 8.5" x 11"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-120-9

© 2021 | Available

A Systematic Approach to Voice: The Art of Studio Application

First Edition

Kari Ragan

Details: 246 pages, B&W, Softcover, 6" x 9"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-223-7

© 2020 | Available