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We're walking in the...urrr

Going gets gruff for choirboys as voices get deeper

Published on December 7th 2012.

We're walking in the...urrr

ANGELIC sounds of boy choristers singing carols at Christmas could be a thing of the past as they battle testosterone levels at an earlier age, according to new research from an Ormskirk boffin.

Two scientific studies carried out by Professor Martin Ashley, head of research at Edge Hill University’s Faculty of Education, confirm choirmasters fears: boys' voices are breaking much earlier than expected.

“We are seeing in today’s 12 year olds what was seen in the 1960s in 14 year olds,” said the Prof.


Prof Ashley’s work focuses on the link between boys singing and educational achievement; and the impact of male role models on boys’ concept of identity and masculinity.

His earlier findings on why boys don’t sing informed the Sing Up Britain campaign – a £40m Government drive to increase singing in all British schools.

Now he has just published an extensive historical study of the timing of puberty and voice change in boys over the last 2,000 years, in collaboration with musical academics from Germany.

Prof AshleyProf Ashley“Unfortunately, the consequence is that older and musically experienced boys are being lost early, with a potential impact on the choir’s ability to perform the more difficult music. So the image of young boys singing wonderful Christmas carols could soon be a thing of the past.”

Professor Ashley is also nearing completion of a large digital audio database of present day voices, which contains analytical recordings of over 1,000 boys, including boys from seven of the cathedral choirs that produce festive music. The voices are compared with other measurements such as the boys’ heights, weights, neck sizes and lung volumes.

He explained: “We know far more about girls than boys because there isn’t the interest in reproductive health and because puberty in boys is difficult to measure.

“However, modern computerised analysis allows conclusions to be made from voice alone and our voice data is telling us that many boys’ careers as angelic singers are now coming to an end at only twelve years of age because puberty in boys does seem to be earlier now than it has been over the last 2,000 years.”

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Corporal PunishmentDecember 7th 2012.

£40 million for singing in schools? When I was at school we all sang for nothing.

They ought to bring back the cane.

1 Response: Reply To This...
General DisorderDecember 7th 2012.

And cigarettes. Smoking helped our voices in theold days.

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