I’ve learned a lot over the years about teaching my young male singers; my approach is much different from teaching my female students. My young boy soprano, who only one month ago was singing high C’s effortlessly and astounding his audiences, is now terrified to stand up to sing for fear that the dreaded “crack” will appear. So, not only has this young man’s voice let him down, but he must also deal with the grief and loss of something precious and pleasing, as well as come to the realization that he has a voice that is completely new in both sound and feel.

Young males have very different laryngeal gender differences. Male singers in their high school years must begin to learn to effortlessly transition from their upper middle register or voice, to their head register or voice. These registers are known as the Passaggi, or passages. There are two passages, one being the primo passaggio, (middle range) and two the passaggio secondo (upper head voice). These young men feel like they are back at the beginning, which to some extent they are. I have found it takes immense patience on the part of both student and teacher, if the young student sticks with it and doesn’t at that point quit singing altogether. In my own teaching, when my young students' voices change, it is all about technique, slow sliding from the bottom of the range and up about three notes and then down again, continuing up the scale as far as is available through the passaggi. Repertoire will come back into the lesson, but for a while it is all about technique. It takes great courage for these young men to have to say good-bye to something so precious and something that is such a part of their identity, and begin anew.