The 11-14 age range is a critical time for boys and singing. It’s the time when voices change and boys feel highly vulnerable vocally and are easily embarrassed. Register here if this interests or worries you.
The proper title of Boys Keep Singing was actually “Widening Young Male Participation in Chorus”. This knowledge transfer project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and carried out by Edge Hill University and the University of York in collaboration with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
The original output of the project was a collection of films drawing on the peer education principle. Boys from NYCGB were filmed in dialogue with voice experts and a range of filmed case studies assembled in which boys spoke about their singing. The films were designed to be used in the school classroom or viewed by boys at home. They are still available on the original project website. Follow this link and then click any tab to open a registration screen and you will be able to view them.
The filming coincided largely with the existence of SingUp, the National Singing Programme in English primary schools. Sensing (quite correctly) that SingUp was never going to tackle the far more challenging task of singing in the lower secondary school, the project became known by the catchier title of Boys Keep Singing because it aims to do “exactly what it says on the tin” KEEP– BOYS-SINGING when they move up to secondary school. Probably the most substantial and sustained work on this problem, at least in a practical sense, has been done by the Cambiata Vocal Institute of America, to whom the “cambiata brand” belongs. See what CVIA say about Boys Keep Singing.
Edge Hill University generously funded much dissemination activity after completion of the project, which saw me travelling the length and breadth of Britain to run training days on boys’ voices in secondary schools and other venues. Amongst the most successful of these is Cambiata: the emerging voice, run by Angela Renshaw in Cornwall. Also successful was the training day held at Blackburn Cathedral and subsequently repeated as a collaboration with the Association of British Choral Directors. This led to the foundation of Cambiata North West, a now thriving regional changing voice choir run by ABCD.
The aspiration now is that, under the wing of ABCD, similar changing voice choirs will blossom in all regions of the country. There are currently nascent ventures in Stockport, Sheffield, Lymington and East Yorkshire and I hope to be able to report on the success and achievements of these groups. If you would like to be part of this very exciting and very necessary enterprise, there are two things you can do.