What are the best songs for boys going through puberty, dealing with those inevitable voice breaks and cracks? Find out in this guest post by voice teacher Molly R...
The adolescent years are difficult no matter what. There is a lot of pressure to be accepted and seen as “cool” by your peers, and it seems as though these young people are always riding a roller coaster of emotions!
As if it weren’t already hard enough to select vocal repertoire, boys around the ages of 12 to 15 face another challenge: the changing voice. As the body goes through puberty, these young singers may experience voice breaks and cracks.
Many young male singers have been conditioned to believe that the head voice (where they have sung as an unchanged treble voice) is no longer acceptable, as it’s perceived as feminine. So what, instead, should he sing?
If a young male singer feels this way, one strategy is to simply start using only a small part of his emerging range, which is part of his chest/modal voice. It is suggested that young male singers vocalize and select repertoire in this smaller range to avoid embarrassment (yep, your typical cracks and squeaks expected from this age!) and vocal strain. The range suggested is about an octave.
Below are a few tips and suggestions for songs for boys to sing during this time.
Reach for a Classic.
A good example is the standard “What a Wonderful World”, made famous by Louis Armstrong. The vocal range is very small and can be easily transposed up or down to fit a singer’s vocal range. This song has been sung successfully by singers of all ages and skill levels, and it is a good piece to know for any occasion.
For the rock fans out there, Beatles songs are also a good idea. The vast Lennon/McCartney catalog has options for everyone. Although some songs have a large range (such as “Yesterday”), faster songs with a driving beat are solid, fun choices with a smaller vocal range. For example, “Drive My Car” is a great choice:
Same with “All My Loving” and “I Saw Her Standing There”.
These are all wonderful songs for boys to sing, as both John and Paul were tenors, the higher male voice.
Lastly, don’t forget Ringo! His “talkier” style will still allow a young rocker with a changing voice to have a blast singing while growing in confidence. “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Octupus’s Garden” are great tunes to know, and younger kids love singing these songs, as well. Check out “Octopus’s Garden” here:
For Musical Theatre Singers, Check Out the Show “13”.
This quirky musical by Jason Robert Brown is just wonderful, as it pokes fun at the awkwardness that comes with this trying time in life! In fact, this was the first Broadway show to include all teenagers in the cast. My students adore this hilarious show!
One of the show’s standout solos is “Becoming a Man”:
Try Classical Music Tunes.
I have found the books “Easy Songs for the Beginning Tenor” and “Easy Songs for the Beginning Baritone/Bass” by Joan Frey Boytim to be absolute essentials! The range of all of these songs is within an octave, and a young male singer may find himself choosing from both books until it’s clear what voice type he is. Ms. Boytim did a fine job selecting classic repertoire (spirituals, folk songs, and art songs) that is accessible to young singers. The art songs have been translated into English.
Tips for Teachers – Working With a Changing Voice
Vocal coaches must be very careful with these young men, as they may have a sensitive ego. You may want to use this time to build other important skills, as well. For example, all musicians can benefit from learning basic music theory!
Tips for Students – Dealing With Voice Breaks
Parents, if you have a young male singer at home around this age who isn’t yet working with a voice teacher, TakeLessons is the perfect place to start! Once you have selected the right teacher for you, he or she can help guide him through this time and emerge with healthy technique – and interesting repertoire, too!
For the students out there, don’t even think about quitting! Some boys and their teachers may think it’s best to put singing on hold while the voice changes. However, singing has many benefits that come into play even if you’re struggling. Keep singing, just using songs like the ones listed above, with a smaller vocal range.
Finally, be patient. Every singer is different. Some boys will have a changed voice sooner than the rest and end up with a very full sound. Your voice is unique and some voices bloom later than others. Males don’t have a truly formed adult voice until their early 20s!
Stay positive, and don’t get discouraged. You’ll eventually find your way!
Want even more song ideas? Check out our roundup of 400+ songs to sing here!
Photo by Barry Lenard