Handling The Changing Voice
There are many books written that give suggestions for evening and smoothing the vocal ranges of adolescent voices. Many teachers are educated enough to know what the students are going through and how to have an effective lesson. They can help the students properly use their voice in a way that will ease the transition into their adult voice. Unfortunately, too many teachers, especially choir teachers, believe students in the stages of change should not sing at all. Even worse, teachers may ask the students with changing voices toforce or belt through breaks in the vocal register. Some music educators believe it will be harmful to the voice if sounds are produced, or they believe it will severely affect the sound of the choir.
It is important for adolescents to sing throughout their voice change in order to be prepared to sing when the voice matures. Frequent and regular singing will allow students to sing throughout all stages of development. This will hone skills in hearing and feeling the change. Adolescents will eventually feel comfortable with the newly acquired, even sound.
Many males and females are self-conscious about the developing voice because of the awkward sound and the unpleasantness of making that sound. There are many exercises that teachers can use with adolescent students. Many researchers focus on two types of exercises that are beneficial. These include using sirens and descending scale exercises.
Sirens can be used throughout all areas of the voice: chest, midrange, head/falsetto. They can help ease transition between each of the areas of the voice and also to exercise the whole singing range.
Descending exercises are also beneficial to the singer. These exercises, many times descending scales, are used often with male singers somewhat as imagery of their changing voice. Many teachers believe that exercises in the direction of the voice change will help in the gradual lowering of the male range. In other words, since the male voice is moving downward, the exercises used should move downward. It is also said that descending passages do not create as much tension in the singer as ascending passages and it is easier for the singer to produce better tone quality.
Repertoire can be hard to find for voices that change so sporadically, but the important thing is to make sure the students are comfortable when singing. They should only sing in the ranges comfortable to them at that time. They should know that at any time, their voice could change and they may not be able to sing the same melodies in the same octaves. At the same time, teachers need to make sure that the students are using a good amount of their range. If they only use a small portion of their range, then the transition will be harder and they may have trouble singing into their mature voice if they never used those notes before. Large ranged songs can be used as long as the singer feels comfortable and not strained when singing them.
The key to helping students through their changing voices is to keep them well informed of what is going on with their bodies. The more they know, the easier the transition will be for them and for the teacher. They should know that any change might happen at any time, and sometimes at the most awkward time. It is a normal part of development and growing up and everyone goes through these changes.