How do you teach young voices, say under fifteen years of age?

For both boys and girls, basic musicianship should begin as soon as possible. A stringed instrument such as violin, viola or cello is good to learn. It gives the youngster a feeling of long, continuous, bowed lines, and a “vibratoed” quality of tone which is indeed similar to the singing voice. Piano and guitar are also very good as they will help in the later study of harmony and be useful as a means of self-accompaniment. Naturally, with all instruments, the involvement with reading music and rhythm is invaluable.

Then, as the voice becomes more responsive with age, the already activated musicianship supports and enhances the overall musical ability.

As far as actual voice training goes, however, one must be careful. In girls, it is not uncommon to find youngsters around ten years old who can vocalize easily from low G to A to E-flat above high C and above. And it is possible to maintain that marvelous start if those handling that voice are careful not to require any heavy singing. That is, competition in groups of older voices or participation in school musicals which require belting. These young voices will become fuller (rounded out), without loss of range, power, and quality, if care is taken to keep strain absent.

In male voices, the change from boy soprano to the beginnings of the adult male voice can be traumatic. It can happen dramatically (overnight in some cases), or hang in a “cracking limbo,” bobbing back and forth within an octave range for a period of time. It is both embarrassing and bothersome, and indeed (if the young boy has experienced some success with a beautiful soprano voice) a horrifying experience. There is no promise that his voice will return in any consistent state of well-being.

This is a difficult period to live through, unless you have knowledgeable and patient vocal guidance from an expert voice technique teacher. The youngster must be monitored regularly to insure that he is keeping his voice coordination as balanced as possible through the change.