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Do girls singing voices change during adolescence?

bearynicebearynice Posts: 3Registered User New Member
edited March 2008 in Music Major
I'm wondering if girls voices change during puberty/adolescence. My daughter is 13 1/2. Her voice is more classical than musical theater. She started voice lessons at age 12, 30 min a week. Her voice teacher had told us that during puberty, girls singing voices may lower a little, but that they often come back a little higher when the girl is a bit older. Well, out of the blue, D's voice seems to have shifted a bit lower. The high notes that used to be easy for her seem to be gone and she says the ones that she can hit sound "airy." For example, she used to be able to sing an "A" (the one that's almost two octaves above middle C, sorry, I don't know the exact terminology), but not anymore. The F's and G's are now difficult. She was easily doing the G's about 6 weeks ago-we had videotaped her for an audition. So, those of you who are singers or parents of female singers, any experience with something like this?
Post edited by bearynice on
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Replies to: Do girls singing voices change during adolescence?

  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,197Registered User Senior Member
    I"m sure the voice could be affected, but keep hoping that she'll turn out to be a mezzo - will make her path easier in the long run.
  • amb3ramb3r Posts: 1,504Registered User Senior Member
    ^^ Can you explain this further? What about being a mezzo makes things easier in the long run (I ask because I'm one too)
  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,197Registered User Senior Member
    As the mother of a soprano, how many times have we heard that sopranos are a "dime a dozen." When it comes to college auditions and job auditions, the soprano line will always be the longest. It is just harder to distinguish yourself as a soprano. Of course, there are unique voices within the soprano range, but generally, being a mezzo or a contralto opens more doors - including trouser roles. It doesn't matter how high you can sing - it is more important to sing well, freely and in good health in your range. High notes are highly exagerated.
  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Posts: 2,103Registered User Senior Member
    Listen to the speaking voice of an adolescent vs a high school girl vs a collegiate and you will hear that the pitch of the speaking voice does raise slightly.

    The issue of your daughter not being able to sing notes she could sing six weeks ago is an entirely different issue, and it needs to be checked by a physician and then very good voice teacher. It sounds like she is hoarse, with the airiness, the cords are swollen and/or irritated. She should stop singing until she is checked. Good luck.
  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,197Registered User Senior Member
    Listen to Lorelei - my answer was more flip coming off soprano auditions. I am not a technician in any way. I do know that extreme care must be taken with such a young voice. It is easier than one might think to damage - and some damage done young is not easy to fix.
  • BelcantoCoutureBelcantoCouture Posts: 31Registered User Junior Member
    Voices do change over time...with age and maturity and improving due to study ... I know that mine has dramatically changed from when i began studying....If it is progress and regression...than that is great...but if your daughter's voice is airy and hoarse than....perhaps she is singing incorrectly...and harming her vocal chords
  • bearynicebearynice Posts: 3Registered User New Member
    Her speaking voice and singing voice do not sound hoarse. A few notes sound airy (she says) when she sings. These are at her upper register. Voice teacher does not seem concerned. There is also the issue of some asthma meds that she "forgot" to take for at least a month or two. Meds have been restarted, so there may have been some decreased lung capacity. In any case, I plan to take her to an ENT doc just to make sure everything is OK. There has not been excessive singing, belt singing, screaming or anything else like that.
  • JIJaneJIJane Posts: 198Registered User Junior Member
    Females go through a voice break just like males do, it's just not as obviously prominent. A good sign as to whether a girl has hit that break or not is usually whether she has started menstruating. Asthma can indeed make the voice sound airy, those kind of meds do affect the vocal chords. Age 12 is very young to start singing lessons, even if it is only 30 minutes a week. Most people don't start before 16, some earlier if they are ready for it, I started at 14 (classical) and was considered extremely young at my conservatory at the time. You are usually not supposed to start lessons till after your period starts, although admittedly it varies from person to person. I was actually discouraged from hitting anything about an F, sometimes a G until I was 16 (even though I could easily) and I am now a coloratur sop. I think your daughter should minimize her lessons to once a month and then do "easy" singing and forget all the top notes for a while. Sounds to me like she is going into voice break now and she needs to be careful, especially with regular medication aggrevating her vocal chords on top of it all. We all know what happened to Charlotte Church who was warbling away classical sop stuff at 12...

    What is she auditioning for??
  • JIJaneJIJane Posts: 198Registered User Junior Member
    Check out this link for more detailed info on the female voice break: Female Adolescence
  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Posts: 2,103Registered User Senior Member
    Physical maturity is ongoing into the early twenties, even though it is not as obvious in the female body. I think I read somewhere that the bones do not finish ossifying for two years after the onset of menses. Bone and muscular structures mature at different rates, and fine-tuned coordination will not be tunable until that process is finished.
  • ABlestMomABlestMom Posts: 598Registered User Member
    My daughter started weekly hour voice lessons at 9 and I saw huge growth changes in her voice at 12, 16 and now currently at 18. Day to day your daughter's voice will have changes where higher notes will be harder to hit somedays more than others - it's related to her cycle, the weather, fatigue, stress, etc. She is growing and her technique is building - she will sound worse when learning something new until her body gets comfortable with it. Once she is checked out by an ENT and her asthma meds are regulated (the main culprit I bet!) I wouldn't worry in the least. Tell her to relax and especially NOT to push! At 12 somedays my D's teacher would say she sounded very mezzo-y and some days she sound very soprano-y. You have no control over her fach in the end.

    By the way, it is a fallacy to think that sopranos always sing higher notes than mezzo-sopranos. Many mezzo's can sing higher than sopranos - but they can't sustain singing in that tessitura and it is not comfortable or their loveliest register. M daughter can hit a F above high C but there is no way she can sustain singing up there (and trust me - no one would want to hear it either, lol)!
  • raquelgonzalez90raquelgonzalez90 Posts: 53Registered User Junior Member
    She's probably just gotten out of that "boy soprano" time, where all the high notes come easily. I take it as a sign of her maturation, and it does take time to figure out what to do to make those high notes "easy" again. I wasn't comfortable singing higher than an F until I was about 14 or 15, when I realized what I had to do to make it easy, and that just came with being able to understand my voice through being older.

    Re: Mezzo-soprano vs. Soprano: I'm a soprano and there are definitely times when I wish I were a mezzo-soprano, but I realize that my voice isn't near being finished maturing, and I could end up a mezzo, but right now, I'm a soprano (it definitely makes you work harder, I say). I used to think it was a bad thing when people said I might end up as a mezzo, but that was just my ignorance as a teenager who wanted to sing the highest, loudest notes. : D
  • mythmommythmom Posts: 8,305Registered User Senior Member
    lorelei is the expert, so I should probably not post, but the way the notes are produced may change as she learns to negotiate her break in a different way. I lost middle notes, not high notes, as my voice developed, and have had to work on getting them back.

    I am also an asthmatic but it has never affected my highest notes, just those slightly lower because the lower notes seem to need more air.
  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Posts: 2,103Registered User Senior Member
    I am not in favor of adolescents studying voice, though a good choir experience with healthy singing is fine, and piano study is always helpful. Backing up in the technical approach is usually a remedy to a problem, not a natural sequence. Middle voice solidity is the best indication of good technique, not easily or often heard. Out of every twenty females I hear in opera auditions, maybe one has the middle collected, focused, stable, and even with the rest of the voice. It is the most important work a teacher does with a singer. The top is a matter of release and freedom, and then co-ordination as the body matures. All of this presupposes that the singer uses the body as a top-notch athlete does, always balanced and supple in a grounded co-ordination. And then there is control of the breath......

    All of that being said, a voice newly airy and range lost are causes for concern and need medical inspection. The medications may be a factor. But it is crucial that she not continue to sing until she finds out for sure, because she is developing new compensatory habits, and she may be causing herself damage. Keep us posted.

    Lorelei
  • team_momteam_mom Posts: 181Registered User Junior Member
    "We all know what happened to Charlotte Church who was warbling away classical sop stuff at 12.."

    Well, I don't know. What happened to Charlotte Church? Now that you mention it, I haven't heard about her since she was a young teen.
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