The 11-14 age range is a critical time for boys and singing. It’s the time when voices change. Boys can feel highly vulnerable vocally and are easily embarrassed. 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 and were supported by an interactive e-book for boys. Most of that content has now been transferred to this site and will be found within the BKS Singer and BKS Teacher sections. Please feel free to use it in any appropriate way and to encourage boys with an interest in singing to use it too,
The filming coincided largely with the existence of Sing Up, the National Singing Programme in English primary schools. At the time, Sing Up was funded only to work in primary schools. The transition between primary and secondary school, however, is absolutely critical for boys’ voices and vocal identities. The project thus 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 outcomes have been 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 work continues. 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. First:
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Then consider how a secondary school in your area could become a centre for cambiata singing. I will be very pleased to visit and advise on this, run a staff development day and, above all, demonstrate to any sceptics that boys sing!