Sunday, 30 January 2011

Treble Voice to True Voice





I teach a young 16 year old girl intermittently. She lives a long distance away and weekly lessons are not a real option. When one does not see a pupil at the regular 7 day interval, it can be more difficult to keep track on where a young and rapidly developing voice is heading!

This young lady, like almost all girls has had a high 'treble-ish' tone quality for the last 4 years, and all of a sudden it is changing quite dramatically.

We all know that boys voices change completely, whether over a few months, or even over night - and I have known that to happen ! I believe that female voices change too, over the adolescent period, and often just as dramatically as with the boys. They do not swap octaves, but once in awhile a teenaged madam will, almost in a trice stop being able to produce high notes, however much they try, or however much they want too.

The top of a girl's voice often becomes breathy, or, as I prefer as a description, 'fluffy', around 15 - 17, but then clears and fattens after 17. The extreme end of this is when the top just vanishes and the middle register becomes as strong as a mature woman's sound.



Young M has this extreme end of the sport that is singing ! One day it is 'Va'doro pupille', the next time I see her it is Buttercup's Song a tone lower than written! Weird or what! So we descend a fifth or more in the less than the time it takes to sing an octave !

Time is the only cure for this curious situation, and lots of TLC for the owner of the new voice who is most likely mourning the loss of the high notes. Finding repertoire which is comfortable and does not stretch more than an octave is vitally important, and this is where my years of teaching in a boy's school have prepared me well. I have a small pile of 'eminently usable for voices which are tiny' and this pile is generally gender free, so M has started on that little library of song. This week she has 'Tis the Gift to Be Simple' in the Aaron Copland arrangement - just perfect and easily transposed into the comfort zone of the week.

Have patience M, it will come back, there is much warmth and strength in a slender five notes in the middle, and a growing bottom !

I would not phrase it quite like that to a 16 year old though - promise!

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