Cincinnati Boychoir & Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to Collaborate on Study of Male Changing Voice

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February 4, 2015

For Immediate Release

700_4890The Cincinnati Boychoir and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will be teaming up for the next several years to study boys’ changing voices. Boychoir singing, an art form that dates back more than 1,000 years, is a unique discipline in that the instrument – the boy’s voice – changes as he progresses through puberty. For years, boychoir directors and those who teach boys to sing have worked to understand how best to help young men through the voice change; however, because the change is different for each and every boy, there is no standard set of best practices, other than those gained through experience or trial and error. While significant medical research exists regarding physiological changes through puberty, much needs to be done to better understand how this affects the singing voice.

Many choral directors and singing teachers feel that difficulty navigating the voice change is a primary reason that many boys stop singing in choirs as they progress through puberty. If teachers are equipped with a strong set of best practices, the hope is that boys will transition through the change more easily and continue singing through high school and beyond.

Approximately 20 boys with currently unchanged voices from the Cincinnati Boychoir will initiate the study; they will undergo voice exams approximately every three to six months to track their vocal changes. In addition to testing the range and other aspects of the voice, high-definition video of the vocal folds in action will be recorded.

Boychoir singing as we know it today has long been a tradition in the west, having had its start in the early Catholic Church. In the Anglican British tradition, boys with ‘broken’ voices were usually asked not to sing until their voice had fully changed. Common wisdom among directors currently is that boys should continue singing while their voices change so that there is less re-training that needs to occur afterward.

To launch the study, the Cincinnati Boychoir surveyed more than 70 music educators on the subject of the male voice change. The study plans to address many of the questions and concerns raised in the survey as well as to confirm, enhance, or reject current practices.

The Research Team

Alessandro de Alarcon, MD, MPH
Associate Professor
Director, Center for Pediatric Voice Disorders
Pediatric Otolaryngology
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
University of Cincinnati Department of Otolaryngology

Christopher Eanes, DMA
Artistic Director, Cincinnati Boychoir
Artistic Director, Collegium Cincinnati

Wendy D. LeBorgne, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Clinical Director
Voice Pathologist & Singing Voice Specialist
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Musical Theater-CCM

Barbara Weinrich, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow
Research Associate, Speech-Language Pathology
Center for Pediatric Voice Disorders
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Professor Emerita, Dept. of Speech Pathology/Audiology, Miami University

The Cincinnati Boychoir

The Cincinnati Boychoir is one of the premiere professional boychoirs in the United States. Located in the urban arts core of Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, the Boychoir reaches approximately 200 young men each year from more than 90 schools in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Since 1965, the Cincinnati Boychoir has been dedicated to the musical, intellectual, and emotional development of these young men and has served as one of the foremost music education and performance organizations in the region; boys attend weekly rehearsals, retreats, music theory classes, and the annual SongFest Summer Music Camp for Boys at Xavier University. Each year, the Cincinnati Boychoir presents approximately thirty annual performances in the Greater Cincinnati region, and has performed concerts and completed residencies both at home and abroad; most recently, the Boychoir undertook three three-day residencies with boychoirs in England (June 2013), and a week-long residency at the Hotchkiss School in northwest Connecticut (June 2014).

Press Inquiries

Christopher Eanes
(513) 396-7664

Alessandro de Alarcon, MD, MPH

Wendy D. LeBorgne, Ph.D. CCC-SLP

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