If your work is with Key Stage Three, your work will be with changing voices – boys’ and girls’ equally. This puts you in a unique position and it also presents an interesting challenge with regard to what was said about the “singing voice” on the previous page – and, indeed, what was said about audiation.
It goes without saying, then, that much of Singing in the Lower Secondary School deals of necessity with the changing voice. Here’s a flavour of some of the most salient pages.
What we need to add here is bringing all this to life. The film on this page is in the form of a lecture targetted at KS3 boys. It’s not “cool” in the sense of some of the Youtube stuff they watch, but it has reliable scientific information. If you use it in one of your lessons, a good many may become interested. It could even be a life-saver for boys who enjoy singing but have never been told what happens to their voices
I’m well aware that my career has devoted more time to boys than girls, but I would not want this to detract from the importance of your understanding the girl’s changing voice. Not least amongst the reasons for this is that there are some people working in schools or with choirs (not the expert teacher in the photo!) who do not even know that girls’ voices change! Boys can even get more sympathy because they can be seen as the “victims” of voices “breaking”. But girls can struggle too, particularly when their singing is important to them and they have the misfortune of an unsympathetic teacher lacking the necessary knowledge. A leading expert on this topic is Lynne Gackle. Here’s an example of her working with girls’ voices:
Changing voices is still a growing field, certainly for teacher professional development, also for the work of composers and arrangers and still for researchers such as myself. Please find time to visit the Cambiata pages on this site (particularly the OUP Emerging Voice ones). If your interest extends that far, go to the latest research pages! Do at the very least check out what the health applications pages explain about the Speech Test app you see advertised.
I leave you with these final thoughts:
Edwin Gordon said this:
Nevertheless, with care and understanding they [i.e 5+ year olds] can be given compensatory, not remedial, guidance…as a group in the formal classroom . . .After a boy’s voice changes, the physical aspect of the problem becomes almost insurmountable.
This depressing scenario is potentially countered by one of the very few pieces of published research in the field. According to Demorest and Clements:
The lack of a difference in perception and production scores between boys in different stages of the change suggests that the register shift brought on by vocal maturation does not significantly influence pitch-matching or perception skills. Singing register does not seem to have an impact as long as the tasks employed are range appropriate.”
Are your tasks range appropriate?