The NYCOS National Boys Choir (pp 158 – 160)
Welcome to the support pages for Contemporary Choral Work With Boys. CCWB is in some way a sequel to How High Should Boys Sing? Whilst the former was a sociological study of the pressures faced by boys in developing an authentic, masculine vocal identity, CCWB looks more at the physiological aspects. The first half of the book is based largely on my research into the timing of puberty and the impact of puberty upon vocal and choral tone. If you’re interested in the full academic story, here’s the paper. This work follows directly from How High? because it looks at the physical science behind the great dilemma. Throughout most of adolescence, boys have a choice. Should they retain their childish high voice for as long as possible or should they develop and exploit the new voice that comes with the changes of puberty? Whilst How High? explored the sociology of this question, Contemporary Choral Work looks in detail at the physiology.
Through including “choral work” in the title, the book is themed around the value of the experienced treble voice to the choir director, choral enthusiast and, in many cases, the boys themselves. It takes the view that whilst boys can and should sing through voice change, the “glorious years” are undoubtedly those of the treble. The “glorious years” do not last long. Many singing teachers and vocal coaches now follow the advice of John Cooksey – which can often result in treble careers ending earlier than in the past. The book looks in detail at why and at the consequences for choirs of a younger age demographic. It attempts to take a balanced and objective view of what for some can be quite an emotive question. The debate is contextualised through case studies of some first rate contemporary boys’ choirs and seen through the eyes of some of their young members.
On the How High? page you can hear most of the young singers who took part in the original research. The trebles page will take you to recordings and filmed case studies of trebles featured in Contemporary Choral Work, contrasting their experience with that of the boy soprano of the past. You will also find albums recorded by some of the boys I have worked with that I hope you will enjoy. On the cambiata page, you will find case studies of boys who have preferred to use their lower voices, as well as films and recordings from the showcase ABCD Cambiata North West Choir. The choirs page will take you to links, recordings and information about the choirs featured in the book. The “App” page explains all about the voice-testing app that was developed as a spin-off of the research. Finally, the archive is where I deposit recordings I’ve made in the past that I like or that illustrate further the themes of contemporary choral work.