Canberra choir just for teenage boys with breaking voices begins rehearsals

On song: Conductor Rachel Campbell leading Tommy Warburton, Oliver Campbell, Caleb Vickers, Ryu Callaway  and Wallace Tan. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
On song: Conductor Rachel Campbell leading Tommy Warburton, Oliver Campbell, Caleb Vickers, Ryu Callaway and Wallace Tan. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

For teenage boys, a lot of things change while going through puberty, in particular their voices.

One thing that Kimberley Steele doesn't want to change, however, is a love of singing.

The artistic director of the Woden Valley Youth Choir said she wants to see more boys continue singing into adolescence, creating a new choir tailored specifically for teenagers with changing voices.

Called Centauri Voices, the ensemble gathered together for the first time this week, and already have performances planned.

"The message is about empowering young people, and it's about finding songs that we think the boys will engage with, with a combination of both fast and slow," Ms Steele said.

While teenage boys with breaking voices are prone to the occasional pop or crack, Ms Steele said that doesn't pose a problem when performing. "Learning to sing when the voice is changing is like learning to ride a bike again, you have to learn how to control it through the changes," she said.

"It's all about singing in a range that's appropriate, and we've developed exercises to learn how to use the voice to sing when it does change."

In the 48 years the youth choir has been running, Ms Steele said it's primarily been a treble choir, meaning the repertoire its groups perform are often well out of the vocal range of boys once their voices begin to change.

As a result, many boys have had to leave the ensemble once they get older, but now the artistic director said those with a passion for singing were able to continue on.

"At the moment, the group has 10 boys, which is a good number to start with, but we're trying to encourage as many as possible," she said.

Ms Steele said many choirs were often female-dominated, with many boys dropping out around the time that they reach high school.

Through the new ensemble, she said there's now ways for teenage boys to continue.

"One of the biggest challenges with Australian culture is that we don't allow for the boys to sing, because there's the perception that they should all be playing sport instead of the arts," she said. "I would love to turn that around and give boys the space to meet other people who are like minded."

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