choral work with boys

When boys discover the value of it, they sing

On this page you will find research that has attempted to answer the question “why do so few boys join choirs?”  More importantly, perhaps, research that underpins the headline statement about value.  If you read any of the books, particularly the more recent ones, you will find that the key to success is in value as a reason for action. The participation level of boys is a direct reflection of the values of their leaders, be they politicians, headteachers, concert promoters or senior clergy.  It is that simple.


CCWB actual.jpg
SLSS Cover.jpeg.jpeg

Research Papers (peer reviewed)

Boys header.JPG

Trends in young male puberty and the changing voice: new dilemmas for choir directors. Choral Journal , August 2021.


Sweet boys singing and rude boys rampaging: Revisiting Boys Keep Singing during an era of rising inequality and declining opportunity.  Sage Preprint.

Where have all the singers gone? and when will they return? Prospects for choral singing after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, ABCD Choral Research Journal, Vol. 1 supplement.

Pitch, pedagogy and performance: demographic structure and vocal blending in an English cathedral boys' choir, ABCD Choral Research Journal, 1: 49 - 59


What Voices Have Emerged? Lessons on boys' vocal dispositions and choral tone from a new choral leaflet series  Music Education Research.    10.1080/14613808.2018.1534819

Beautiful Swansongs of English Cathedral Music: adolescence and the boy "treble" voice.  NATS Journal of Singing, 75 (2), 141 - 153.

To make again sweete musicke with the fearest voyces of England.  ABCD Yearbook, 2018, 34-37.

The English choral tradition and the secular trend in pubertal timing, International Journal of Research in Choral Singing. 4 (2), 4 – 27.  

1000 Years and 1000 Boys’ Voices: the crisis and radical challenge for boys’ singing, in U. Geisler and K. Johansson (eds),  Choral Singing: histories and practices.  Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Broken voices or a broken curriculum? the impact of research on UK school choral practice with boys. British Journal of Music Education,  30 (3),  311 – 327.  

With Mecke A-C  “Boyes are apt to change their voice at about fourteene yeeres of age”: an historical background to the debate about longevity in boy treble singers.   Research Reviews in Human Learning and Music, 1, 1 – 19.  

The Angel Enigma: experienced boy singers’ perceptual judgements of changing voices. Music Education Research  13 (3), 343 -354.  

Should I be singing this and if so, how high? boys reveal their masculinities,  In J. Adams, M. Cochrane & l. Dunne (eds) The Application of Theory to Educational Research. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

The perpetuation of hegemonic male power and the loss of boyhood innocence: case studies from the music industry.  Journal of Youth Studies 14 (1), 59 – 76.  

Technique or Testosterone? An empirical report on changes in the longevity of boy singers. , NATS Journal of Singing  November/December, 137 – 145 . Access via Questia.

Slappers who gouge your eyes: Vocal performance as exemplification of disturbing inertia in gender equality, Gender and Education, 22 (1), 47-62.  

“Real boys” don’t sing, but real boys do: the challenge of constructing and communicating acceptable boyhood, THYMOS Journal of Boyhood Studies, 4 (1), 54 – 69. Visit archive

Boyhood melancholia and the vocal projection of masculinity, THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, 2 (1), 26 – 35. Visit archive

You sing like a girl? An exploration of boyness through the treble voice, Sex Education: sexuality, society and learning, 6 (2), 193 -205.   Visit archive

The spiritual, the cultural and the religious: What can we learn from a study of boy choristers?, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 7 (3), 257 -272.

Singing, gender and health: Perspectives from boys singing in a church choir, Health Education, 102 (4), 180 -187.

If you are having difficulty obtaining any of the above articles, you are welcome to contact me directly. 

Apps, videos, podcasts, recordings, music.

CNW letterbox.jpg
1812P DVD Cover.jpeg

Go to my personal archive where you will find films, recordings, broadcasts, lectures and podcasts on boys' voices and choral singing

Building Voices Logo.JPG

Subscribe to and "like" Building Voices Youtube channel, set up to revitalise singing after the pandemic.


Sign up with the Association of British Choral Directors for training on getting and keeping boys singing, and access to Choral Directions Research.

Speech test icon.JPG

This app tells you have far a boy is through puberty and voice change.

Available here.

PandeMUSIC screen shot.JPG

WellRehearsed is risk management app by ABCD and Making Music designed to maximise mitigations for safe singing.  Read about how it works here,

Now available for android here and iOS here.

1705P Emerging Voices Info.jpeg

If you are looking for repertoire specifically for adolescent boys that's not the traditional sacred choral, you should look at the Cambiata Press.  That's where you'll find what really is "cambiata".  But here in the UK I'm proud, with my colleague Andy Brooke, to be series editor of our very own UK series, publisheby OUP, that follows the principles and guidelines set out by the late Don Collins, with whom I was privileged to correspond and exchange ideas before his death in 2017. A debt of gratitue is owed to Don whose ideas live on in Emerging Voices.