Choir Costumes: Mixed Children's Choirs

Figure 1.--While the most famous children's choirs are all boy choirs, actually mixed children's choirs are much more coimmon. HBC reader Birte Koch has proivided this charming image.

All of the best known children's choirs are boy choirs. This includes choirs like the Vienna Boys' Choir and the English cathedral choirs with rigorous choral instruction. This has changed somewhat with the organization of girl choirs at some English cathedrals. Still the best known choirs continue to be boy choirs. This is primarily because of the the tradotional male dominance in most Christian churches, especially those which sponsor choirs. Some argue there are difference in voices of boys and girls, but this is controversial. There are, however, mny mixed children's choirs around the world. Some countries only have mixed childrens's choirs. These mixed groups were much more common in Communist countries. There are cultural factors involved here that we do not fully understand. We also notice them in Meditteranean countries like Italy, apparently because of difficulties recruiting boys. We only seem to notice mixed choirs in Asia. (The only exception here is choirs organized at single gender schools.) Almost all of these mixed choirs have training programs much less rigorous than the European boys choirs.

Many of these choildren's choirs seem to be donimsated by the girl members. A reader writes, "Here's my theory on how a "children's choir" inevitably becomes essentially a girls' choir with a couple of boys. The choir starts off with good intentions of having a balance between boys and girls. But most boys are forced out by physiology by the time they're 13, while girls have no natural age for leaving. Because of this, girls soon have a 2 to 1 numerical advantage, as well as an age and skill advantage. Fifteen-year-old girls are not charmed by the antics of ten-year-old boys, and let them know it. As boys find that they're not really welcome there, they start leaving even before their voices change. New boys with an interest in singing check out the choir, find that it's mostly girls, and decide to take up soccer instead. The result is a choir as can be observed in many children's choirs--primarily girls with a few younger boys."


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Created: 5:38 AM 6/14/2004
Last updated: 4:34 AM 6/15/2004