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  • Calgary Classical

When the voices change, keep singing

For nearly 50 years, the Calgary Boys’ Choir has been delivering high-quality choral instruction, performance opportunities, and formative experiences for boys. Its vision is to empower boys to be remarkable, expressive and creative citizens, and it operates with the core values of stewardship, integrity, creative leadership, growth, friendship, fun and humour.

“I went to see the Calgary Boys’ Choir’s concert when I was in Grade 4,” says George who has been a member of the choir for the past five seasons. “And I knew I wanted to join the choir after seeing them perform.”

George quickly became one of the dedicated members of the choir. He travels from Didsbury to Calgary every week – that’s a 140 km round trip and two hours spent in the car, longer during the winter months. He rarely misses rehearsals and enjoys singing and building friendships through music. And his - and his family’s - dedication didn’t change even after his voice started to change a few years ago.

“It was a big change,” says George who now sings in a bass-baritone range. “During these changes, my voice became really unpredictable. It was frustrating to not always be sure what sound my voice was going to make.”

Many boys stop singing as their voices develop through puberty. But the study shows now that voice change is not the main reason why the boys stop singing, rather, it’s because they become convinced they are no longer good singers. The Calgary Boys’ Choir is known for embracing singers who are going through puberty. And with direction from the Artistic Director Kathryn Berko, George has learned to sing during and after his voice changed.

“The voice change happens in different ways and can be a scary and intimidating process for many boys,” says Kathryn. “It's important that the boys all realize that these changes are normal and that their peers in the choir either have experienced it before them or will be experiencing it soon. This helps the boys to feel more secure with the sounds they are producing. It's also important that they realize these unpredictable times are temporary. We know that if boys sing throughout this change, they will have an easier time working with their new voice once things start to settle. We want to create a lifelong love of music and singing, and this is the best way to go about it.”

George now works with fellow members who are going through the voice change and offers support and guides them through the period.

“I know the voice change can be frustrating to us,” Says George. “But we can help and support each other. And we can keep enjoying singing while it’s happening.”

Join George and other members of the Calgary Boys’ Choir - the choir is accepting new choristers for January. For more information, visit

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