The Choir Parents' Handbook

Chapter Eight

THE CHANGING VOICE

There is a woeful lack of accurate information among musicians as well as laymen concerning the singing voice of the boy from childhood to later adolescence. It is quite evident that those who deal with boys' voices should be a sort of trained specialist. The director should understand thoroughly the characteristics of boys' voices to place them in their proper category.

As the experienced choir boy approaches the age of pubescence, changes begin to take place vocally. His voice comes into full bloom, and he gains at this point a resonance which is peculiar only to the changing boy's voice.

The changing voice gives a director the greatest concern. A boy does not possess it for any great length of time, possibly only two or three months. The voice range is usually limited for a short time also, but immediately after this limitation period there is an expansion of singable notes. Headwise, it is not uncommon for the pubescent to sing from middle C upwards two octaves and from middle C downward an octave to an octave and a half. The period of usefulness of this so-called changing voice is in direct proportion to its proper or improper usage.

During this change period the choirboy must be constantly under the surveillance of his choir master mainly for the purpose of seeing that he does not over-use his voice. There are some weeks when the choir boy with the changing voice will be allowed to sing only part of the time. Later, it is possible for him to sing much of the time, and still later, all of the time. It is entirely an individual matter which must be handled with the greatest amount of discretion in order that the choir boy not be made too self-conscious of his momentary flaws.

Once he is over this hurdle, there is a period of approximately one year which can, by all standards and results, be the most wonderful year of all his choir days. It is a time when he can assert his authority as never before because of his advanced experience. It is a time when he can assert himself vocally with assurance.

The choir boy who has mastered the technique of breathing and who continues to sing correctly through the changing period of the adolescent voice will find almost no noticeable "breakage" in evidence, the chronic

 

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