A research partnership between Cincinnati Children’s and the Cincinnati Boychoir could help better explain how boys’ voices change in adolescence and if those changes can be steered to ensure that boys keep singing.

Members of the Cincinnati Boychoir.

Members of the Cincinnati Boychoir.

It is a research project so unusual as to garner coverage in the Washington Post, USA Today and other media outlets.

The Cincinnati Children’s team is led by Alessandro de Alarcon, MD, MPH, of the Division of Otolaryngology. As an ear, nose and throat physician and director of the Center of Pediatric Voice Disorders, his typical focus is airway reconstruction, voice disorders, sinonasal conditions and eosinophilic esophagitis.

This multi-year study will involve recording voices, measuring vocal cord thickness and gathering other data to learn more about how voices change as boys pass through puberty. The study also will evaluate methods of teaching boys how to “steer” their voices during the change. About two dozen choir members ages 5 to 11 will participate.

Boychoir leaders proposed the project with the hope of reversing the trend of boys giving up choral singing during the change. Some never return with their “adult” voice.

“All the pieces of this really haven’t been explored in a way that could give us some answers,” de Alarcon told the Cincinnati Enquirer.