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How Do Voice Changes Take Place During Puberty?


In any person's life there comes a moment when he searches for the answer to the question: Why and more importantly how the voice of a boy turns into that of a man, and a girl's into that of a woman?

Not many music teachers can soundly explain in detail the process of voice changes during a child's voice “growing” stage. They only say that these changes are related to puberty.

So, how do children's voices turn into the adult ones? What happens to them?

The thing is that during physiological processes in the body of a teenager there is an active growth of vocal chords. This transition period in the throat is called mutation. For the entire course of mutation, vocal chords grow and accordingly become longer.

This process happens quicker and less noticeably in girls as their vocal chords lengthen only by one sixth of their previous size. Therefore voice changes are not that prominent in girls.

The same process in boys is much more difficult and slower because their young chords are subjected to a quite a rapid growth. During the period of mutation, they grow to a third of their length! There are also great changes happening in the boys' throats: the throat cartilage, which is referred to as Adam's apple, increases. It becomes more prominent and visible externally in a teenager. That is why voices of men sound lower than those of females'. We'll come back to explaining these voice changes using a vivid example.

By the way, depending on the size of Adam's apple one can tell the timbre of a voice of the adult male? Before he opens his mouth! "Basses" (low male voices) have very prominent Adam's apples. In "tenors" (high male voices) Adam's apples are less noticeable and much more smoothed out.

As chords grow quite quickly, it is difficult for a teenage boy to adapt to the increasing voice changes and learn to use the chords. That is why from time to time you'll occasionally hear them slip for a second into a high-pitched voice during conversation. Their voice breaks off and instead of new, low "manly” sounds, the underdeveloped vocal chords slip back into the "childish" voice. It occurs when boys want to say something with slightly increased sound.

During the mutation period when voice changes, the teenage boys go through difficult times. Some classmates, who in the future will have high voices (tenor), but mainly schoolgirls, will often make jokes at the expense of a “squeaky” boy and make him feel very uncomfortable. Such moments can be quite agonizing and bring the teenager huge discomfort.

You, dear parents, should support your son when voice changes start happening. The first thing you should do is to show your sincere joy about your boy getting older!

In order to understand and mainly explain to your son how his voice changes and how it works, you have to do the following:

1. Take any musical instrument that has strings. For example, a toy violin or a guitar will do. If there's nothing like that in your house, it can be found in the house of your friends or in the store.

Mentally divide a fingerboard (part of the instrument where the strings are attached) into three parts.

2. Choose any string and imagine that it is vocal chords. Firmly press this string at the length of one third from the head of the fingerboard.

3. Without removing the finger from the pressed string, play the string and closely listen to the sound.

4. And now take the finger off the fingerboard and play the string a few more times, using the entire length of it.

5. Do both 3-5 times more and compare the sounding.

Did you notice what happened? Along the entire length the string produces a sound much lower than when it's pressed. The same occurs to the voice of your son! This is exactly how his voice changes. The only thing is that the transition from the clamped string (children's vocal chords) to the entire-length string (fully formed vocal chords of the male body) will last on an average for two years.

What can you possibly advise your teenage son during this period of discomfort when the voice changes begin? Firstly, do not shout and in general try to speak in the lower tone of voice. At the same time this habit will help make the child more calm and patient.

Secondly, if he wants to sing he has to do it very quietly, almost murmuring the song but never loud by any means!

Thirdly, if your son has good vocal potential and has been taking singing lessons for a few years, his voice needs special care. You have to consult with his teacher in your child's presence and receive detailed instructions.

And at last but not the least: do not let things get out of your control. Be responsible and follow the advice of the voice teacher. Your vigilance is the key for the undeveloped voice of your son who does not give enough credit to the voice changes happening.


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