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Inspired by How can I safely extend my vocal range

The above question had a great answer. I would like to know what, if anything, is different about learning to sing in falsetto. (My son wants to sing what he hears on the radio, but something isn't working right.)

Edit: My son has sung in school since kindergarten, and last year he sang in Choir every other day at school. Both of these are extremely common in the U.S. at least.

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Another answer states "after the hormonal development in his body changes his voice range into the lifelong adult range": that's dangerously misleading. The male (and to quite a lesser degree the female) voice change is a significant change of the whole larynx. As a sort of imagery, consider it like a molting insect that's soft initially and hardens out after filling a larger volume. The hardening out, "ossification", takes decades to reach full strength.

There is nothing wrong with training falsetto while the voice matures: falsetto on its own is less strainful than chest voice. If you are interested in countertenor technique, in particular extending falsetto range downwards is important. But trying to work/retain/extend the high pitches by force is likely to cause permanent vocal damage. There is a trend in both opera and pop singing for "young voices", and this trend works against a longer career because it causes voices to age quite faster than even the faces and bodies.

So the main idea is to sing a lot and experiment a lot but while quite staying in the comfort zone.

That's hard to maintain without both significant discipline/self-control as well as a good teacher.

  • In particular extending falsetto range downwards is important. But trying to work/retain/extend the high pitches by force is likely to cause permanent vocal damage. This is exactly the information we needed. – aparente001 Nov 14 '15 at 16:31
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You say "something isn't working right" but I doubt that anything is seriously wrong; it's probably literally just a normal phase he's going through.

Boys, before puberty, do not have a falsetto register as such. Boys before puberty sing alto or soprano naturally.

Falsetto is something that becomes possible after the onset of puberty, and after a boy's voice changes; after the hormonal development in his body changes his voice range into the lifelong adult range of either tenor, baritone or bass.

Learning to sing in falsetto, in terms of traditional, classical training, is something that usually happens after the age of 18 or so. In traditional, classical vocal study, the technique is called countertenor rather than falsetto. Most classical countertenors are in fact baritones, but some basses and tenors can learn this technique as well.

However, the falsetto or countertenor technique is also used in American R&B and soul and genres of popular music. I can't speak to that or how to learn it; I'm classically-trained. (I'm a tenor; I have not studied the countertenor technique.)

Update: If your son has merely "already started to go through puberty" then it's possible that his voice is still "cracking" or "breaking" and has not settled into a consistent adult voice type. The age at which this happens, and how long it takes things to settle down, can vary widely from individual to individual.

I'm also inferring that your son has never studied singing before, such as having sung in a choir before his voice began to change. So he has no basis of training to work with.

The only way to evaluate the situation is for your son to sing for a professional voice teacher, school choir director or music teacher, etc. and get some feedback on what his voice is going through. Depending on where he's at, the voice teacher may very well say that he should wait some number of months for his body to mature further before approaching learning to sing.

The human voice is a complex thing. You can't learn much of anything useful by reading written descriptions on a website. If you are really concerned about this, you need to have your son meet in person with a voice teacher.

  • I edited the question, hopefully it's clearer now. – aparente001 Nov 13 '15 at 3:36
  • You can't learn much of anything useful by reading written descriptions -- But I learned a lot from music.stackexchange.com/questions/804/…. I would simply like someone to extend or limit or adapt that answer to this question of getting started with falsetto specifically. – aparente001 Nov 14 '15 at 5:07
  • OK, but if your son's voice is changing, and he needs to get accustomed to singing in his new adult vocal range, why would you want to confuse things by encouraging him to learn to sing in falsetto? It seems to me you would be putting way too much on him to learn, technique-wise. What does "my son wants to learn to sing what he hears on the radio" have to do with falsetto? Perhaps he's trying to sing songs that are in entirely the wrong key for his particular voice? In that case the answer is to transpose the songs into his vocal range, not the other way around. – user1044 Nov 14 '15 at 6:10
  • I haven't encouraged him to sing in falsetto. He likes to try to imitate what he hears. That includes pop songs and opera and all kinds of things in between. – aparente001 Nov 15 '15 at 2:49
  • Again, if he wants to sing a song that's outside his vocal range, he needs to find musicians who can transpose the song into a different key where he can sing the piece along with them. Nobody would assume that any one person can sing everything hearable on the radio, spanning bass to coloratura soprano. Trying to negotiate everything with untrained falsetto isn't going to accomplish anything from a musical standpoint. – user1044 Nov 15 '15 at 2:53

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