by Contributing Author Jamea Sale
Two videos attached for your reading enhancement ~
My favorite part of being a voice teacher is working with “Changing Voice Girls.” An email arrived this morning from Becca (8th grade) who has an audition for a select 9-12 girls touring chorus. She’s been making bi-weekly recordings of her singing for me this season so that I can track her voice change progress. In January I noticed her sound becoming progressively more “breathy” and “gunky” so when I received the following message today, I was not surprised! Here is our exchange:
Hi Miss Jamea!
My voice has just recently started to fade away. I have to work a lot harder than usual to sing even the S1 part of “Let the Sea Make a Noise”. Do you have any tips that might help? Just a couple weeks ago I would have said with confidence I have a good chance of making the top girls’ choir next year, but now my sound doesn’t sound as pure as before.
I noticed on your recordings that some changes are a-coming! The most important thing at this time is to keep singing with all the healthy practices that you’ve learned. No pushing or forcing the voice. It’s going to be a bit breathy and gunky for a while. That’s ok! We know that this is normal and that most girls auditioning for the first time to the touring chorus are in this stage.
- Practice daily. It’s important to stay ‘conditioned.’
- Drink lots of water & swallow (or spit) the gunky stuff.
- Avoid coughing or clearing as this is wearing and damaging to the vocal folds. Take care of the voice!
– Your sound will not have the same clarity as last year, but you will still do your ‘set up’ the same as always. We’ll keep watch that you don’t start any unproductive habits like:
- pulling the lips, arching the tongue, over-blowing the air (this actually makes the breathiness worse)
- pushing/pressing the sound, or even getting a strange head/body posture started. These things would ultimately undermine the sound.
- Support the breath just like you have been! Nothing needs to change from what you’ve been up to already. You will feel like you don’t have enough air because you’re leaking! It’s normal!
You can still get resonance. The more relaxed your teeth/mouth/jaw/pharynx is, the better! When these things are in place, your breath will be more efficient!
- Descending glissandos. Start with your lighter head voice production and maintain that sound throughout the exercise.
- Ascending glissandos throughout the range. You want the voice to sound even from top to bottom. If you feel a ‘yodel’ or ‘break’ in the slide, focus on:
1.) maintaining lighter “production” all the way through the line.
2.) energizing the breath where the break happens. (The tendency is often to back off when there’s a hitch, but you must keep that breath moving!) Note: when I say “light,” I don’t mean wimpy tone: I’m saying not to use a ”muscular” or “heavy” tone.
- Skip-intervals will add flexibility to your voice. Strive for accuracy and ease. (“Let the Sea Make a Noise” has great melismas that make a perfect exercise!)
- Sing your own voice! If you start trying to “do” your old sound or a more mature sound, you will likely be going in the wrong direction. Your new “changing” voice is beautiful. Embrace it!
 “Let the Sea Make a Noise” by George Frideric Handel, Arr. Jacob Narverud for SSA & Piano. S1 range is E4 – G5, S2 range is D4 – D5, A1 range is A3 – B4. (This is Becky’s required audition piece.)
 During female adolescent changing voice, girls’ vocal folds develop a gap (place where the folds don’t fully close). This is an occurrence that is normal and that will eventually pass given good technique and time.
- Please watch stroboscopy showing small posterior gap or vocal chink in normal teenage girl:
Allegro Choirs of Kansas City perform “Let the Sea Make a Noise”, Georg Frideric HANDEL. Christy Elsner, Director; Jamea Sale, Vocal Coach.
Jamea Sale is the Director of the Institute for Healthy Singing, Executive Associate Music Director for the William Baker Choral Foundation and Vocal Coach for the William Baker Festival Singers and Allegro Choirs of Kansas City.