Arts / Young boys learn to sing with changing voices

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The mixed WV youth choir with pianist Sally Greenaway. Photo Peter Hislop.
“THE Year My Voice broke” is not just the name of a famous Australian film, but a byword for one of the worst things that happens when you’re born a man.

But Woden Valley Youth Choir is putting an end to that with the announcement by artistic director Kimberley Steele, of a new choir specialising in young males with changing voices.

Unfortunately, Steele says, when boys’ voices starts to change, they’re often either asked to leave their singing group, or are too embarrassed to stay. Once they leave, they often don’t return to singing.

Apparently puberty hits boys earlier in the 21st-century (18th century males’ voices changed at around 17 years of age) and now it’s around age 13, meaning that the window for boys to learn to sing is narrowing.

The choir, originally formed in 1969 by Don Whitbread, wants to keep these young people singing by training them through their changing voice with a specialist singing group.

“Woden Valley Youth Choir is the only choir in the Canberra region to offer a choir specifically for this group of young males,” Steele says. “Using specialist training, we’ll be able to help boys adapt to their new voices as their vocal range changes – which is sometimes week to week.”

It’s one of a raft of changes to Woden Valley Youth Choir’s offerings announced this week. As well as the existing junior and senior choirs, a new younger junior choir plus two a cappella ensembles will be launched from 2018.

Steele says: “We’ve always trained young people to be musicians and instil a love of music they will carry for their lives. With our new singing groups, we hope to share that love of singing with even more young people in the region.”

Woden Valley Youth Choir auditions, Saturday, December 2. Details at wvyc.org.au/join-us

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