A descriptive study of vocal maturation among male adolescent vocalists and instrumentalists

Janice N. Killian, John B. Wayman

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4 Scopus citations


This descriptive study was designed to examine middle school adolescent boys' singing voices (N = 104) comprising volunteers enrolled in band (n = 72) or choir (n = 32). The authors sought to confirm possible earlier voice change, to compare vocal characteristics among frequent (choir) and infrequent (band) singers, and to determine use of falsetto during each voice stage. To assess falsetto, the authors had participants view and then imitate a segment of Shrek, in which characters speak in falsetto and bass. Students then spoke a line at high, medium, and low pitches. They then self-selected their highest and lowest singing pitches, sustaining them as long as possible. Following Cooksey procedures, the authors identified the boys' speaking pitch and guided them to their highest and lowest pitches. Data consisted of demographic information; changing voice stages; high, medium, and low speaking contrasts; highest and lowest sung pitches (both self-selected and instructor-guided); number of seconds pitches were held; presence/absence of falsetto singing; and Likert-type responses to "Like singing?" and "Sing well?" Results confirmed that boys' voices continue to change at an early age and can be divided reliably into predictable developmental stages and that speaking voices were 3 to 4 semitones above lowest sung pitches. Predictable identification of falsetto appeared elusive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-19
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Falsetto
  • Instrumental
  • Male adolescent voice
  • Vocal
  • Vocal maturation


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