Choir for young men with changing voices offers safe space to sing

Canberra 2600
ABC Radio Canberra


Penny Travers


April 03, 2018 08:00:09

Centauri Voices is a choir just for teenage boys whose voices are transitioning. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
I haven’t left,” he said. “A big part of being discouraged is that singing in an art music setting or a classical setting isn’t seen as something that should be accepted and you’re shunned because of it,” he said. The 18-year-old said teen boys often turned away from singing when they hit puberty. “So we wanted to make something specialised just for them, where they have this safe space to sing together.” For young men the change can be quite noticeable with the voice dropping as the vocal chords thicken. “Or they’re in the situation where there are only a few boys and a lot more treble voices and they sort of have to almost compete. “We know how hard it is when people judge you for it — it’s really demeaning.”

Oliver Campbell feels comfortable singing in the Centauri Voices ensemble. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
“It’s a transitional period and they go through a few years of finding their voice,” WVYC artistic director Kimberley Steele said.”A lot of boys that loved singing as trebles freak out at their voice changing and don’t know what to do, so they just stop and don’t learn how to use their adult voice. “So having something like this is great because it allows people to just develop themselves as musicians.” A friend encouraged 16-year-old Wallace Tan to join the choir, which currently has 12 members aged 13 to 20. “I was sceptical at first but I promised to try it at least once and it’s been pretty good. Photo:
Centauri Voices meets each Tuesday evening and is looking for more members. “Someone might have a voice break but we don’t laugh at them because we know that it could have happened to us,” Oliver said.”We know what it’s like because we’re all going through it at the same time. “Usually we think we can’t sing because there’s going to be ridicule of our voices because they’re all different.”But here there’s no ridicule; it’s a non-judgmental space and it’s a safe place to sing.” Woden Valley Youth Choir (WVYC) started the Centauri Voices ensemble to offer young men with changing voices a chance to sing together. “I think more people should try choir at least once, it’s probably not what they think it is.” Finding their voiceEveryone is born with a treble voice that changes during puberty. (ABC Radio Canberra: Penny Travers)
Isaac Said has been singing in choirs for about six years and joined Centauri Voices when he moved to Canberra from Sydney for university last month. “So we’ve got to get them to keep singing in a way that’s safe.” Ms Steele said Canberra had not had a choir specifically for teen boys for some years.”A lot of choirs are just treble choirs which meant when their voices break they actually had to leave the choir,” she said. Oliver Campbell has been singing all his life.But the 14-year-old Canberra student only took up choral singing earlier this year when he discovered a choir just for teen boys.”It’s a comfortable environment to sing and have fun with other boys with changing voices,” he said.