how High? - the sequel


My ground breaking book, How High Should Boys Sing? was published ten years ago. Much of it is still as relevant as the day it was published, but an amazing amount of new research has been undertaken and published in peer-reviewed journals since then, to say nothing of new choirs that have started and developments in others.  Perhaps a second edition of How High might have been a solution, but a better plan is to keep the original and publish a sequel!  Dead Composers and Living Boys is that sequel and it's currently in preparation. This page gives a foretaste of what is coming.

Dead Composers front jacket.JPG

On Dead Composers and Living Boys

Understanding the relationship between long dead composers and boys alive today is the key that unlocks our understanding of what boys might value about opportunities to sing.  Identity is not given but created anew by each generation.

The Building Site

The building site is a powerful metaphor for the critical years of early adolescence – when boys will decide whether “singer” is a possible identity for them. The project of identity creation is a long one, but the early adolescent years see the testing of foundations that determine what may come to be built above the ground.

How Boys Learn - and when

Lucy Green is the author of an influential book How Popular Musicians Learn.  This chapter explores the evidence that boys’ learning in choirs has more similarities with Green’s work than with the traditional pedagogy of classical music. Living boys do not learn by dead methods.

Mädchen in a Knabenchor?

Little arises as much passion as the prospect of girls where once there were only boys, but it is a nettle that must be grasped. The issue has been well-rehearsed in the UK.  This chapter takes a fresh look through the eyes of European choirs.

Broken or Changed?

“Cooksey had it nailed” – or did he?  This chapter explores several anomalies that have become increasingly evident since the death of leading adolescent voice researcher, John Cooksey.  The debate on whether voices “break” or “change” is given another airing.

A High-stretched Minikin?

“Boyes are apt to change theere voyces at about fourteene years of age” - recently and in antiquity. Studies of the Elizabethan boy chorister actors disrupt popular myths on when voices changed historically as well as telling us much about masculinity during the golden age of choral polyphony.

Is there, was there ever, a golden year?

The “golden year” is that brief period when the so-called “treble” voice is in full bloom, just before it is lost for ever, but at a time when the boy has musical maturity. But when is this? The chapter shows that human agency rather than biological puberty differentiates three quite different answers.

My Most Proud Choir

What makes a boy proud to be in a choir, which choirs engender the greatest pride, and why?  Boys tell their stories -of choirs, audiences and conductors.

From New World back to Old

The so-called “English Choral Tradition” was once exported to a youthful United States.  Now a rather different version has returned across the Atlantic that has more in common with European practice. The chapter explores the impact of research upon British exceptionalism.  

A Dead Byrd and a Feare Voyce

William Byrd was truly a “world class” English composer, and he has been dead for some 400 years.  But his music lives anew in every new generation.  It is not a “dead composer” that is killing classical music, but the death hand of blind tradition.