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What about 3 octave range boys?

OK, done a lot of reading and read all the various experts' take on the classification of the changing adolescent male voice. I have not found any reference to these few boys I have that have a WIDE range of around 3 octaves. Just 3 examples in a quick glance at my sheet, I have 2 boys who can sing G3 - G5 and one E3 - E5. There are no holes in their range. What in the world are they? This range is not in Cooksey, Cooper, Swanson, McKenzie, Phillips, or Collins.
Replies (10): Threaded | Chronological
on February 13, 2013 7:00am
Err, sorry, no sleep last night: 2 octave range boys...
on February 13, 2013 11:07am
What ages are they?
on February 13, 2013 5:34pm
Two of them are 6th graders so, what would that be...11 to 12 years old? One is in 5th grade, so 10 or 11.
on February 14, 2013 1:08am
Hello, Brad -- what you've mentioned, along with the relatively young ages, indicates a fairly normal state of affairs for boys who have sung continuously before the voice change.  The musculature is simply better conditioned to sing during the change process than might be the case for boys who have less or little experience.  The Cooksey research, remember, focused on all boys in typical junior high schools -- not just those who had sung previously.  And, the Cooksey range charts focused on the core of the singing voice, not the entire range (Cooksey addressed the misperceptions this created in his later writing).  Your experience seems to be in line with the experiences of Fredrick Swanson and, presently, Henry Leck who focus on boys who have continuously sung.  When boys like this have access to a full range of singing, including head voice and, later, falsetto, the pitch range can indeed span several octaves.  What is most important is that the boy continuously sings through all of his range.  That's where the main vocal instruction -- in your warmups -- comes in.  Remember that repertoire only "exercises" part of the range.  Your other vocal teaching will ensure that boys sing throughout their entire range.
In other words, the boys are normal and you are very lucky to be working with such experienced singers.  And, these boys obviously had some great training from other teachers along the way . . . be sure to thank them!
I hope this helps!
Take care,
Patrick Freer
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on February 14, 2013 7:54am
YES!!! This helps. This is *great* information, thanks. I really, really appreciate your help on this and the warmup question I had.
The curious thing is, these boys have not been singing. At least at school. And I really doubt at church. Here's my situation. I'm finishing my doctorate in choral conducting. Next week is my written comps. (!) In December, we were running completely out of money. Running on fumes, even. So I applied for and was hired as a substitute in our local district. Before I could work a day as a sub, the district fine arts director nabbed me and got me hired to start a vocal music program at an elementary school which hasn't had music for 4 years. It's a great school and a wonderful opportunity for me and for them to have music.
I see every student, k-7, at the school. (8th grade starts next year.) K-3 once a week, 4th & 5th grade twice a week (though separately), 6th & 7th graders every day. 700 students. Nothing but choir. So I've been at it for almost four weeks now. It all happened in a whirlwind and I'm creating curriculum on the fly and trying to find appropriate literature.
My background is I've taught middle school my first year in combination with a high school gig. But I taught high school choir for 17 years. Because I've been finishing up one last class this semester and trying to prepare for my comps, between that and working this job, I've been scrambling trying to read the research whenever I can, but there isn't much "whenever." So when I tested these boys (and they are not the only ones like this) I was flummoxed. Aside from all the yawn-sigh, siren stuff we've been doing since when I started this, they haven't had any vocal music training as far as I know.
I will devour your article on warmups. That has just been a source of frustration for me. Another frustration is that I'm finding there is very little literature out there that really caters to the 5th - 7th (8th) grade voice. Most of it will require some writing/modifying additional parts. I am familiar with Cambiata Press, but they are very limited in genre and number of offerings.
So, again, I thank you so much for your help. At this time in my life, it is most valuable!
on February 14, 2013 10:17am
Hello Brad
In my experience (50 years of teaching choir to people of all ages, mostly young people), 10 - 13 year olds are a special group requiring very carefully selected repertoire - it needs to be not too taxing vocally, but not boring; the words need to fire their imaginaion in some way. Three parts is the ideal - some children of this age are really ready to explore high notes, and will happily tackle a soprano part that goes to high G or even higher. Unfortunately, at least in Australia where I live, boys nowadays assume that they should necessarily sing the lowest part. I take the boys alone, and we have competitions to see who can reach those high notes - and most of them can, once there are no girls laughing at them. I tell them about the historical fact that boys who sing soprano beautifully woud have been kidnapped hundreds of years ago, to sing for the king or the pope. I try to make them proud of this ability. I also get them to sing scales which go really low - and often many of them can sing low E or lower. And so I  work out which of them will sing which part in which song, making sure that the boys with a very wide range move from soprano to alto in different songs. I also tell them that the middle part (mezzo) is the most difficult part to hold, and I see who is able to hold a middle line alone without being dragged either up or down. All of this testing i usuually need to do at lunch times. In class time initially i teach rounds, in which everyone, girls and boys, all use their voices across a wide range. I am currently preparing two books for publication: volume 1 is SSA pieces for beginning choirs; volume 2 is SAB pieces, for choirs where boys are beginning to be able to sing baritone. I have also composed many longer works for this age range, where the bottom part sounds OK if it is either alto or baritones or a mixture of the two..
on February 14, 2013 6:24pm
Hi, Judith,
This is wonderful information, thank you. You have given me some excellent ideas.
on February 14, 2013 6:41pm
BriLee Music is a good place to start for middle school appropriate music.  They cover everything from unison to limited range SATB.  WARMING UP WITH ROUNDS, Shawnee Press, is a new publication I wrote with young voices in mind.  It also has adaptations for adolescent male voices.  
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on February 15, 2013 9:10am
Thanks for the tip, Cathy.
on March 6, 2013 1:30am
Cathy, I just received your book today. IT LOOKS GREAT! These rounds look like a ton of fun and I so appreciate the ones you included for limited range voices. Super! I know we'll be using many of them. This is a great resource, congratulations.
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