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. Many are lost to singing, some for life, as a result. The approach to keeping boys singing differs according to their previous experience. If they have sung a lot as trebles in good choirs, they will have learned to use their whole vocal range and will in all probability be sufficiently motivated to find ways for themselves of adapting to voice change. All that is necessary is to provide welcoming opportunities so that they can continue to enjoy as adults what they came to value as children.
This is only a small minority. Boys Keep Singing was designed for the majority who were never taught to use their upper register (so-called “head voice”) prior to voice change. For such boys, the Cambiata approach, developed in the United States by Irvin Cooper and Don Collis, is more suited.
Information Sheet 001:What is Cambiata?
The primary aim of Boys Keep Singing is to adapt and promote the Cambiata concept for use in UK schools.
See what CVIA say about Boys Keep Singing.
The research and development for Boys Keep Singing (officially known as “Widening Young Male Participation in Chorus”) 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 BKS avatar was created as a hook to draw them in!
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 and get in touch. 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!