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Choral Tone Revisited


sjf1967

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Guest Roffensis
I can only speak of my own experiences, but from what I have observed psychological factors actually can play a very large part in determining when the voice breaks.

 

Boys voices here in St Albans seem to last longer than I remember them doing in previous employment at another cathedral. We keep the boys on into year 9, i.e. one year longer than most choir schools which, being prep schools finish in year 8.  Most boys make it to the end of year 9  - a few doing it with no problem at all, others by careful management of gradual changes to their voice. Some do leave early, but it has been very rare that they leave earlier than some stage in year 9.

 

I find that stress can play a large factor in the onset of voice change - either stress at home or at school. It can be because of, say, parental break up of marriage or other troubling factors including bullying.

 

Boys here like being part of the choir and never seem to want to leave - which is good, but sometimes I feel that one or two have oustayed their welcome. Persuading them that it's time to move on can be difficult and traumatic for them and I find it takes careful handling and patience (and sometimes endurance) on my part.

 

It's a big thing for them to deal with and cannot be rushed or glossed over. They like being in the team - they have a strong sense of belonging and don't want to lose their precious treble voices. So many manage to hang on to their higher registers and as long as they don't create either musical problems or appear to be straining their voices I let them carry on until they are ready to go.

 

What I observed before, when I worked elsewhere, was something rather like a subtle form of, understated, peer pressure. The move to a new school at 14 could be embarrassing with a squeaky treble voice (the boys in St Albans change schools at 11 so the pressure they feel at age 13/14 is much less). So the boys at St Paul's tended to "allow" their voices to change earlier - they were leaving the school and choir and moving on so they wanted to grow up that bit earlier. Many had changed vioces before they left at the end of year 8 and some even in earlier years. I also thought that the school environment helped that to happen - it could be rather pressured at times.

 

I'm sure that you are right about the earlier awareness of sexual stimuli as well. In a choir school there could be the possibility of being more aware of that and being exposed to it in some form or other than of it happening when living at home with your parents.

 

So I think that the boys themselves and their environment can cause them to have some control over when or how quickly their voices change.

 

I haven't done a scientific study, but this is what I observe here. And I don't think we eat less red meat or have special water in Hertfordshire!

 

 

What a truly wonderful human response to your boys. Good for you!!

R :blink:

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I can only speak of my own experiences, but from what I have observed psychological factors actually can play a very large part in determining when the voice breaks.

 

Boys voices here in St Albans seem to last longer than I remember them doing in previous employment at another cathedral. We keep the boys on into year 9, i.e. one year longer than most choir schools which, being prep schools finish in year 8.  Most boys make it to the end of year 9  - a few doing it with no problem at all, others by careful management of gradual changes to their voice. Some do leave early, but it has been very rare that they leave earlier than some stage in year 9.

 

I find that stress can play a large factor in the onset of voice change - either stress at home or at school. It can be because of, say, parental break up of marriage or other troubling factors including bullying.

 

Boys here like being part of the choir and never seem to want to leave - which is good, but sometimes I feel that one or two have oustayed their welcome. Persuading them that it's time to move on can be difficult and traumatic for them and I find it takes careful handling and patience (and sometimes endurance) on my part.

 

It's a big thing for them to deal with and cannot be rushed or glossed over. They like being in the team - they have a strong sense of belonging and don't want to lose their precious treble voices. So many manage to hang on to their higher registers and as long as they don't create either musical problems or appear to be straining their voices I let them carry on until they are ready to go.

 

What I observed before, when I worked elsewhere, was something rather like a subtle form of understated peer pressure. The move to a new school at 14 could be embarrassing with a squeaky treble voice (the boys in St Albans change schools at 11 so the pressure they feel at age 13/14 is much less). So the boys at St Paul's tended to "allow" their voices to change earlier - they were leaving the school and choir and moving on so they wanted to grow up that bit earlier. Many had changed voices before they left at the end of year 8 and some even in earlier years. I also thought that the school environment helped that to happen - it could be rather pressured at times.

 

I'm sure that you are right about the earlier awareness of sexual stimuli as well. In a choir school there could be the possibility of being more aware of that and being exposed to it in some form or other than of it happening when living at home with your parents.

 

So I think that the boys themselves and their environment can cause them to have some control over when or how quickly their voices change.

 

I haven't done a scientific study, but this is what I observe here. And I don't think we eat less red meat or have special water in Hertfordshire!

I think you're absolutely right Andrew. We have found that boys who were trebles in July and showing no signs of changing at the end of Year 8 go very rapidly once they are in an older secondary school environment - whether it's peer pressure or something else i don't know, but we've seen it quite a bit.

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I think you're absolutely right Andrew. We have found that boys who were trebles in July and showing no signs of changing at the end of Year 8 go very rapidly once they are in an older secondary school environment - whether it's peer pressure or something else i don't know, but we've seen it quite a bit.

 

.... It may have something to do with the back of the bike-shed and a packet of Embassy Filter Virginia....

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Guest Roffensis

A CD of Tewkesbury Abbey School Choir has been issued which is really something to reckon with....a good solid English sound, diction well nigh perfect, vibrato, oops I mean Tremelo!! :wacko: and a stunning young soloist of only 10, who sounds older...........My little soloist in my own choir is still only 8 and sounds rather older and fuller toned even than this lad on the CD. The whole Tewkesbury disc is a revelation. Incidently, the lad singing on the video Queen of the night (link on earlier post) is not, to my ears, singing in continental style, but again in pure head tone, and sounds magnificent with it. :o He also sounds like a boy should.

R

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I think you're absolutely right Andrew. We have found that boys who were trebles in July and showing no signs of changing at the end of Year 8 go very rapidly once they are in an older secondary school environment - whether it's peer pressure or something else i don't know, but we've seen it quite a bit.

 

Boys' voices seem often as not, to descend gently and gracefully when they are constantly being used correctly. As a D of M of a Public School (once) I had a great number of cathedral and collegiate trebles coming for music scholarship auditions which were months and months before the new term in September. Although almost all played their instruments well and had a musical awareness second to none because of their professional enviroment since about the age of 8 years, one secretly hoped that the opening of Once in Royal might be secured for the conclusion of their first term in their 'Big' school. That it would please beyond measure the Headmaster's wife, would give the Music Dept tripple brownie points and funding from the Bursar to secure the Big Production at the end of Lent Term, was constantly hoped for and it was therefore an important by-product of the Scholarship giving that is not so often talked about. However, on the first day of the new term, the office door would be knocked and in would walk Bullivant or whoever with a gruff and gravelly pubescent voice.

No singing at all from end of June or early July, plus two or three weeks of delightful sun and screaming on all that Disney World has to offer, completely shatters the hopes and fears of all the years! Those boys who famously have a stint at Edington in the summer hols fair much better.

Nevertheless of course there are exceptions ... but this was frequently the norm.

 

Just an observation.

 

Best wishes,

NJA

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