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Best Resources for Teaching the Changing Voice

I know that this is a common problem and there are probably other threads out there, but I thought I would throw the question out there anyway and see if there is anything new or if people could point me to their favorite resources.
 
I am a young female teacher who was primarily in a women's choir in HS. Because of this my experience with the changing male voice is very very slim. I have done a lot of reading and watched the dvds from Patrick Freer but I am struggling with the best way to help my jr. high and high school boys. My jr. high boys are almost unable to match pitch at all and have a very limted range. I have done individual voice checks with all of them so I know where their voices are I just don't know how to help them stretch and grow as singers. My 'basses' (jr. high and hs) tend to sing in the "basement". When I encourage them to sing in the correct octave, many of them CAN reach the notes but it feels odd to them and they don't know how to stay there. Others say they just can't sing that high. Some of them I believe this is true, others I know they can but again, the feeling is foreign and so they think they can't. I am a soprano and I am unexperienced. I want nothing more than to help them but I need help myself! I am currently looking for someone to come in and work with the boys (a young male) but I am having a hard time finding someone in my area. Does anyone have any good tips for someone like me or know of any good workshops in the MN area, books, or dvds that might be helpful. I want to be better! :) Any help would be great.
 
on February 4, 2014 10:08am
They must find their falsetto voices. Boys, even though they giggle at first, love to make siren sounds, pretend to throw their voices like a baseball, make a sound like they are making fun of their sister when she talks on teh phone, etc. Don't worry about matching pitch at first - just have them make falsetto sounds.  Have them put their hand on the center of their chest as they attempt falsetto sounds - if their chest vibrates, they are not in falsetto. Many times it takes them feeling the difference between their lower register (chest vibrates) to falsetto (no chest virating) before they hear it.  Work on the difference between singing and speaking voices, then find falsetto, then work on pitch matching. Also, check out the work of Henry Leck and John Cooksey to add to what you've already learned from the great Patrick Freer. All 3 have great ideas about male changing voice.  If you can find a male with a changed voice who can sing with them for a day or two, that helps as well!
on February 5, 2014 12:52pm
Rachel,
 
What you are facing is what many others in the teaching field have faced and overcome.  There are a number of fine resources-- and Patrick Freer is one of the leading authorities, along with Henry Leck.  I recommend you take a look at my book, Strategies for Teaching Junior High & Middle School Male Singers--Master Teachers Speak published by Santa Barbara Music.  41 master teachers contributed a wide range of materials, exercises, and practical suggestions which I compiled into a manual.  You can take a look at the chapters at www.sbmp.com     
 
Finding out where boys speak is the best way to start in my opinion.  The median pitch where guys speak is their "comfort zone," especially those whose voices are in the middle of the change process.   Helping the boys find their head voice (falsetto) and using exercises that bring the lightweight voice downward from b-flat above middle C (so-fa-mi-re-do) is a fine way to begin.  However, some fellows will not, during the change process, be able to make those head voice sounds.  That's normal.  Try lip buzzes, sirens, donkey sounds (low-high-low- high fun sounds!) to engage the head voice.   "Here kitty, kitty." (another fun thing to have fellows find the head voice)
 
I suggest you go to ChorTeach, ACDA's electronic magazine for music educators at all levels, and read my article on helping boys find and use, in a healthy manner, their head voices (some people call it the falsetto voice).   Title:  Head Voice Exploration and Development for Junior High/Middle School Boys.   Go to www.acda.org/publications and scroll down to the third item, ChorTeach.   Scroll down to Vol 5, No. 2, Winter 2013.   If you aren't a member of ACDA, you should definitely join and go to ChoralNet and get into the middle school/junior high discussion forum.  It's fantastic!  You'll not be able to access that article if you aren't a member of ACDA. 
 
Topics covered in the book mentioned above:
Testing Boy's Voices (this chapter is loaded with practical things for you to think about and put into practice with your boys so that they get to know their voices and feel successful)
Vocal Ranges and Categories
Recruiting Ideas that Work
Establish and Maintain Interest
Vocalises for healthy Voice Building
Choral Literature--A Balancing Act
Performance Success
An appendix contains 220+ recommended, anotated works for all voicings at the MS and JH levels
 
Also, John Cooksey's work is invaluable.  My best to you.  
 
Terry Barham
P.S. Their's a really fun canon, Missus Shady, that I'll send you if you like.  Text: "Oh Missus Shady, she was a lady. She had a daughter whom I adored.  I went to court her, I mean her daughter, every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday half-past four."   Just send me your email (or anyone reading this can send me an email) and I'll get a pdf to you.  Your guys will love it!
 
 
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