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BOYS TO MEN. A Remarkable Transformation!. The Goal for Today. I would like to share with you… Considerations regarding classification of young tenors and basses.

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BOYS TO MEN


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boys to men

BOYS TO MEN

A Remarkable Transformation!

the goal for today
The Goal for Today

I would like to share with you…

  • Considerations regarding classification of young tenors and basses.
  • Considerations for picking music that adequately suits the newly-changed, yet immature male voice. (basically 9th and 10th grade boys)
  • Changing Boys Voices – Honesty, Passion, Consideration, and Aggression.
  • OPEN DIALOGUE
3 common issues
3 common issues…
  • “Grovelers!” What can I do with a “groveler?”
    • The three main things I ask my boys to think about are: BE AGGRESSIVE, TALL IN BACK OF HEAD / LOOSE CHIN, and SNOTTY TONE. A snotty tone should be encouraged!
    • Nasal resonance really seems to help boys, and men, release tension in their throat, ultimately helping them move through pitches that they don’t trust.
    • Be patient. I have had several grovelers that took 6 months to fix, but I’ve NEVER had one that went on forever!
  • All changed voices seem to be considered basses.
    • Too often the earliest voices to change are considered the basses and the later ones are considered the tenors. Then in 9th and 10th grade, half the boys are in the wrong section!
    • It is quite common for boys in the 9th and 10th grade to switch from the bass section to the tenor section. Why?
    • EVERY boy becomes a New/Settling baritone at some point. Therefore, most tenors start their “career” as baritone/basses. Be ready for this, and explain it to them. Late bloomers are no less likely to become basses than students who mature early.
  • Balance…
    • HAHA!
    • Who cares!?!
what am i listening for when classifying a young boy as a tenor or bass
What am I listening for when classifying a young boy as a tenor or bass?
  • Stage of Voice Change
    • This is the first, and may turn out to be the only, thing to consider.
    • An unchanged / early changing voice is a tenor.
  • Resonance
    • Where is the sound hangin’ out?
  • Posture/Technique. How efficiently do they sing?
  • Comfort within the range and “fake” notes
  • Hesitation is normal.
    • Young boys may not want to be tenors, but more importantly, they don’t want to be embarrassed. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are listening for.
  • Fat Tone vs. Focused Tone (nasal…)
  • Heaviness and Huskiness vs. Lyrical and Relaxed
    • This still may not ultimately tell you whether they will be a tenor a bass, but it will help you decide if you can move them to tenor or not.
    • Regardless of range, I don’t move them until they can with reasonably efficient posture. It is not fair to them if I do.
  • EVERYONE IS A BARITONE…
    • If you don’t consciously teach vocal techniques that will “build” tenors, you won’t have any… or you’ll have very few.
considerations for picking music bass lines
“CONSIDERATIONS for picking music – BASS LINES”
  • Range Considerations
    • G (bottom line, bass clef) is a pretty safe note for New/Settling Baritones
    • Although a number of your young basses may have lower notes, one should be mindful of the technique they use to produce them. Too many low notes too early could create some bad habits. Don’t be afraid to decide which singers will sing the lowest notes.
    • A (top line, bass clef) is the highest comfortable note for many New/Settling Baritones. That may even be a stretch, especially for “Grovelers.”
  • SAB music may not solve your problems
    • Often the “B” part utilizes full octave ranges, which many young men don’t have yet… or at least not the same octave as the guy next to them! 
    • It may be necessary to make adjustments to the music in order to accommodate success for your singers. There are a number of composers who are mindful of developing voice ranges. (Spevacek, Harris, Parks, Althouse, etc.)
    • There is a belief by many that SAB music is necessary because young choirs (boys) are unable to handle the complexity of other voicings. Complexity is better than impossibility.
considerations for picking music tenor lines
“CONSIDERATIONS for picking music – TENOR LINES”
  • Consider D above middle C as “the last comfortable note” for young tenors.
    • Key of F works really well usually. G is okay, A and C are often DANGEROUS!
    • Some composers do a really good job of using dangerous keys responsibly.
  • Avoiding SAB music may be necessary for success.
    • Remember that many “tenors” this age are not actual tenors – they are voices that haven’t become “new baritones.” Therefore, they likely do not have much usable range below E/F below middle C.
  • It is possible to pick music that gives them ample opportunities for success, while presenting some challenges that may help them grow as singers.
    • It’s okay to pick music that “flirts with danger” and contains notes outside the comfortable range. Too much “flirting” can result in very bad singing habits.
    • If you can’t keep your chin under control, you don’t get to sing tenor!
changing boys honesty passion consideration and aggression
Changing Boys – Honesty, Passion, Consideration, and Aggression.
  • HONESTY
    • This is the situation and IT IS NORMAL!
    • “This is part of becoming a man!” (not just a cave man, but a real man)
    • Have fun with the reality. Laugh together. Bullies get CRUSHED by me!
  • PASSION
    • Be excited about what is happening for the young men. Let them know that you are enjoying the process for them.
    • Don’t for a second believe that they aren’t picking up on how you really feel.
    • Rachmaninoff got me here, but it isn’t what kept me.
  • CONSIDERATION
    • You must be considerate of their limitations by not asking them to do things that they can not be successful at. (throw your ego aside and do the music that you are supposed to do, not always what you want to do)
    • Boys will develop a hierarchy within the classroom – be sure that it isn’t hurtful or painful. Find ways to even the playing field so that ALL BOYS are part of the difficult transition.
  • AGGRESSION
    • We will be aggressive about singing!
    • Voice change is not an excuse for inaccurate singing.
    • Doing nothing, or bowing out, are seldom helpful.
considerations for picking music for 7 8 boys choirs or 7 8 mixed choirs
CONSIDERATIONS for picking music for 7 & 8 Boys Choirs or 7 & 8 Mixed Choirs
  • MY CORE BELIEFS:
    • Number of voice parts (TTB, TB, B, etc.) has nothing to do with skill. It has EVERYTHING to do with vocal range. Wrong vocal range – THE CHILD WILL HAVE NO SKILL!
    • Use 3 parts if you have them gender separate. This is the most efficient way to accommodate the various stages of change.
      • BTW, most 3-part music for men DOESN’T work for 7 & 8 boys… huh???
      • Number of boys doesn’t matter, you still need 3 parts.
    • Use SATB… SAB is a trap! Why do I think that?
      • If I have a mixed choir, how can I make this work??? Who’s a tenor and who’s a bass?
      • Separate 7th& 8th mixed groups can be especially challenging.
    • Balance… what do we say about balance?
    • I hope this doesn’t offend any composers, but I make adjustments regularly.
i am a big brother parent
I am a BIG BROTHER / PARENT
  • At times I am their friend. Not because I’m cool, or because I play video games, but because I have their back and I hold them accountable like a true friend would.
  • Although they are unruly and smelly, in their hearts they want me to be proud of them. THEY TRUST ME, and this trust is earned through my passion for their success.
  • Every year I make this promise – “I will not let you make a fool of yourself.”
  • My expectations are always high. This shows the boys that I have confidence in them, even when so often they don’t believe in themselves. Over time, they too will expect more from themselves!
i am always right
I am always right!!!
  • And… I’m a liar!
  • You will make mistakes, and your kids will see it, and this is the most import part of why they trust you!
    • Because I am willing to admit that I am sometimes wrong, they trust that I am always considering what is best for them.
find a mentor get inspired
Find a mentor. Get inspired.
  • Although mentorship programs can be helpful, you may still want to seek out others on your own.
  • Influential People for me:
    • Stan Carlson, Carlin Berg, Axel Theimer, Mike Smith, Chris Aspaas, Brian Stubbs, Ann Motl, Gene Mattilla, John Gagliardi… many, many more!