Mariette Effing (NL) has been the conductor of the City Boys’ Choir Oldenzaal in the Netherlands since 1998. In that position, she has gained valuable experience in working with boys and young men of different ages. For the one‑hundredth anniversary of the City Boys’ Choir Oldenzaal in 2015, she organized Boys, keep on singing!In that project, she focussed on singing with boys and especially on how to ensure their continued interest in singing. Everywhere around her, both in her own country and internationally, Mariette sees a reduction in the proportion of boys and men singing. This trend inspired her to organise a symposium and a boys’ choir festival in 2015.
Mariette Effing studied school music and choral conducting. Apart from her work as a conductor, she is a member of the editorial committee of specialist journal ZINGmagazineand works as a music journalist.
MARIETTE EFFING, Netherlands
Boys keep on singing! A project for boys’ voices
When speaking of children’s choirs, do we not usually refer to girls? Don’t boys sing? And shouldn’t we be worried that in 25 years from now, there will be no men left in our choirs?
The declining interest of boys and males in singing has several causes. Centuries of choral traditionshow that boys greatly enjoy singing, but that their participation rate decreases rapidly when girls are admitted. The disappearance of the ‘men only’ mentality plays a major role.
We seem to have forgotten that children develop differently depending on their gender. Boys are more physically present, have more difficulty concentrating and mature later than girls. If boys’ behaviour is repeatedly labelled as negative, they will quickly lose their pleasure in singing.But boys love to sing, and they improve significantly in a stimulatingand secure environment.
During my lecturewe will explore how we can best work with boys, based on repertoire and boys’ specific topics of interest. The songbook Boys, keep on singing!was written especially for use in practice and will alsobe presented during my lecture.
The “Colours of Peace”theme symbolises the diversity of choral life. Don’t forget the boys!
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