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Book: Strategies for Teaching Junior High & Middle School Male Singers

By: Dr. Terry Barham    

Catalog Number: SBMP 443     Price: $16.95    ISBN# 978-0-9648071-2-9

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In this practical, research-based book, you will find creative and proven techniques for testing and classifying boys' voices provided by 41 master teachers, 235 annotated and recommended choral works, recruiting suggestions, methods for maintaining boys' interest in singing, plans for successful performances, vocalises for the healthy development of boys' voices, and much more.



Dr. Terry Barham, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Emporia State University, has served as guest choral conductor and clinician at the high school and junior high/middle school levels in 20 states. He has presented workshops and clinic sessions on the boys changing voice for American Choral Directors Association state, regional and national conventions and six Music Educators National Conference state conventions. He earned degrees from the University of Illinois (M.S.) and the University of Oklahoma (B.Mus.Ed. and Ph.D.).

Barham’s most recent book, Strategies for Teaching Junior High and Middle School Male Singers--Master Teachers Speak, is highly regarded by teachers around the U.S. He is also co-author of The Boy's Changing Voice--New Solutions For Today's Choral Teacher.

The Emporia State University A Cappella Choir, under his direction, has toured Europe six times (1989--France and England, 1992--Austria and Czechoslovakia, 1996--Spain and France, 2001--Denmark and Sweden, 2003--England/Scotland/France, 2006—Austria, Switzerland, and Italy). The choir has been invited to sing in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and other venues in New York City in May, 2008.

In July, 2007, Barham was presented the Harry Robert Wilson Award for lifetime service to the choral art by the Kansas ACDA (American Choral Directors Association). Currently, Barham is National Coordinator for State and Division Newsletters for the American Choral Directors Association and chair of the Society for Music Teachers in Education for Kansas. In 2001, he was one of four recipients of the Emporia Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Award for service to community and for teaching excellence. He is also listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who among America’s Teachers, and Who’s Who in American Education.


What do experienced choral teachers who have worked successfully with junior high/middle school boys know? Lots! In this book, you’ll find creative and proven techniques for testing and classifying boys’ voices, recommended literature, recruiting suggestions, methods for maintaining boys’ interest in singing, how to plan for successful performances, vocalises for the healthy development of boys’ voices, and much more.

This book is the outcome of a sabbatical granted from Emporia State University for the spring of 2000. A pilot survey was developed and tested with selected Iowa junior high/middle school teachers in the fall of 1999. It was modified, grouped into 24 questions, and mailed to 60 outstanding junior high/middle choral teachers in the seven states comprising the southwestern division of the American Choral Directors Association: Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Teachers were chosen based on the recommendations of ACDA and MENC leaders, most often state ACDA Repertoire and Standards Chairs for Junior High/Middle School, in each of the seven states. Three-fourths returned the survey. Sixteen of the 24 questions were subjected to statistical analysis using the software program, Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

A second survey dealing with performance success for junior high/middle school guys was mailed in April 2001 to the original 42 teachers who responded to survey number one. Eighty percent responded.

The depth and breadth of these teachers’ knowledge and experience are impressive. Why? Half of the teachers have taught sixteen or more years at the junior high/middle school level. They know what they are doing and understand how to attract and work effectively with boys in these crucial years; however, it is interesting to note that more than three-fourths of the teachers gained their expertise with boys voices on the job. Three-fourths said their college preparation was not adequate for testing, classification, and development of boy’s voices in junior high/middle school! Let’s hope that today’s music education programs are doing a better job of preparing future teachers in the area of working with boys’ (and girls’) changing voices.

Appendix I contains the first survey sent to the Master Teachers (February 2000) with its 24-questions plus a statistical analysis. Appendix II is comprised of the questions and a statistical analysis of the April 2001 survey on performance success for junior high/middle school boys.

A list of 235 graded and annotated compositions grouped by voicing and 33 works written by master composers from the Renaissance through the Romantic eras make up Appendix III. A prelude to this extensive compilation, Tailor the Music to Meet the Needs of Your Singers, addresses specific techniques for those wishing to adapt music for their singers’ individual needs.

Appendix IV lists Guidelines for Composing and Arranging for Junior High/Middle School Singers. New music that fits boys’ changing voices is greatly needed.

Darolyne Nelson, my co-author on The Boy’s Changing Voice—New Solutions for Today’s Choral Teacher rated difficulty levels and annotated many of the works for Appendix III. I am grateful to her for her outstanding contribution to this book and for her great love for and ability to inspire her students. My interest in what is happening to boys who sing in choruses as they move through the crucial years of early adolescence into the “adult” world has never waned, but intensified. High school, church, and university mixed choruses cannot function without male singers, many of whom have their interest in singing heightened or diminished by their experiences in junior high/middle school choirs

. Information is sorely needed to aid choral directors as they recruit boys into their choirs, teach these boys to sing with healthy vocal technique, and expose them to a wide variety of quality literature. Experienced teachers want to keep abreast of new ideas and find music that excites boys. Teachers new to the choral profession need proven techniques for training boys’ voices, recruiting young men and nurturing their self-esteem, thus preparing them for a life-long love of singing and music.

This book offers the combined knowledge, experience, and enlightened opinions of master teachers who have had outstanding results in working with junior high/middle school boys in choral programs. I hope you find ideas, approaches, and literature that give you renewed energy and direction in your classroom and rehearsals.


Chapter I: Testing Boy’s Voices
Teacher Skills
Plan Your Tactics
Before Testing, Do Some Teaching
The Test
Begin the Testing Process with Speaking
Begin the Testing Process with Singing
Specific Components of the Test
How Often to Test
Immediately after the Test
Deal with Register Changes
Partner Grouping before Classifying Voices
Have Students Classify Themselves
What About the Girls?
No Girls Allowed
Girls Allowed

Chapter II: Vocal Ranges and Categories
Descriptive Terms
Teacher Philosophy
Categories and Ranges
What the Experts Say
Master Teacher Vocal Ranges/Categories

Chapter III: Recruiting Ideas that Work

Chapter IV: Establish and Maintain Interest

Chapter V: Vocalises for Healthy Voice Building
Head Voice Downward Through the Passaggio
Breath Activators and Breath Management
Range Extension and Flexibility
Interior Space (Lifted Soft Palate) and Lowered Jaw
Ear Training and Intonation
Resonance and Tone Placement
Tall, Classic Vowels
Physical Gestures, Non-verbal Symbols for Basic Vowels
Yawn Sighs, Sirens, Unpitched Exercises

Chapter VI: Choral Literature—A Balancing Act
96 Winners
Music of the Masters
Out of Print Music

Chapter VII: Performance Success
Preparing the Singers
Choosing Audiences
Choosing Acoustic Spaces
Routines before Performances
Programming for Success
Recommended Openers and Closers
Icing on the Cake

Appendix I
The February 2000 Survey:
Testing and Classifying Boys' Voices in Junior High/Middle School
Statistical Summary

Appendix II
The May 2001 Survey:
Performance Success for Junior High/Middle School Boys
Statistical Summary

Prelude to Appendix III
Tailor the Music to Meet the Needs of Your Singers
Swap Parts
Octave Displacement
Doubling Parts
Write a New Part

Appendix III
Recommended Literature for Junior High/Middle School Singers
Unison, Unison or SA
SA, Two-part
SA or TB
SAB, Three-part Mixed
Music of the Masters (Four-part Mixed)

Appendix IV
Guidelines for Composing and Arranging for Jr. High/Middle School Choruses

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arr. by
Sean Barnette