The November/December 2022 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “(Trans)itioning Voices: Inclusivity through Line Recombination” by Stevie J. Hirner. Following is a portion from the introduction.
n recent years, the inclusion of transgender and gender expansive (TGE) individuals has become a more visible and increasingly discussed topic in both national and regional conferences of the various professional choral organizations. These have featured interest sessions on terminology, vocal changes due to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) along with the related vocal pedagogy, and some logistical accommodations that choral directors can employ in their classrooms such as inclusive choral attire and identity-affirming choral placement.(1)
The 2021 book titled Honoring Trans and Gender Expansive Students in Music Education, written by TGE allies Drs. Joshua Palkki and Matthew Garrett, contains discussions on several such accommodations. (2) However, apart from these worthy topics of discussion, there is a lack of actionable, research-informed tools developed by TGE communities themselves that address the vocal needs of TGE singers in choral ensembles.
As a member of the TGE community, I am presenting a codified methodology called “line recombination” to supplement the efforts of those who have come before me in order to further the goal of a more inclusive choral environment. Through the recombination of vocal lines in their repertoire, choral directors can repurpose similar principles employed for cambiata voices in middle school classrooms—and other such situations that involve revoicing an existing vocal line—in order to meet the vocal needs of transgender and gender-expansive singers in their ensembles who may be exploring a vocal transition, all without compromising the singer’s vocal health or musical integrity.
Normalizing the use of line recombination to help TGE singers can provide actionable alternatives for singers who may be transitioning between voice parts in order to align better with their gender identity. First, a brief exploration of trans-related terminology and potential vocal issues that TGE singers may face is necessary in order to lay the foundation for understanding the methodology behind line recombination. After which, the examination of five contrasting “classics” from standard choral repertoire helps determine a set of parameters that can assist directors in creating their own recombined lines for singers in need.
1 While these topics are not the primary focus of this discussion, they are worthy of further exploration. See the following references: Christopher Cayari, “Demystifying Trans*+ Voice Education: The Transgender Singing Voice Conference,” International Journal of Music Education 37, no. 1 (December 2, 2018): pp. 118-131, doi: 10.1177/0255761418814577; Joshua Palkki, “Inclusivity in Action: Transgender Students in the Choral Classroom,” Choral Journal 57, no. 11 (2017): 20-35; Jason M. Silveira, “Perspectives of a Transgender Music Education Student,” Journal of Research in Music Education 66, no. 4 (October 4, 2018): pp. 428-448, doi: 10.1177/0022429418800467.
2 Matthew L. Garrett and Joshua Palkki, Honoring Trans and Gender-Expansive Students in Music Education (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2021).
Read the full article in the November/December 2022 issue of Choral Journal. acda.org/choraljournal