The peculiarities of those adolescent voice cracks just clicked for me, and it’s fascinating!
The human voice is a marvel of biology. It all starts when we inhale deeply. The way we control the air from our lungs to our mouths gives us diverse sound outcomes. If you’ve chosen to stay mute and only communicate through killer dance moves, the air you expel might be mistaken for a light breeze. But if you’re channeling an Oprah moment, your larynx (or voice box) gets busy.
Upon activating our vocal tools, the diaphragm kicks into action, pushing the lung’s air up and out through our windpipe, leading to the larynx. This small space, with two flapping vocal cords, comes alive with activity. The vocal cords vibrate thanks to the muscles that cling to the voice box. These vibrations release bursts of air. This sound frequency, determined by the tension in these muscles, can vary – the tighter they are, the higher the pitch. If you’ve ever wondered, normal conversation dances between 200 to 8,000 hertz.
Childhood Gifts Us With Dainty Larynxes and Wafer-thin Vocal Cords
To grasp the concept, think of guitar strings. The high-pitched strings are slender, aren’t they? Enter puberty, and boys, in particular, get a testosterone surge that elongates the laryngeal cartilage and fattens up those vocal folds. Think of this as the tuning of a guitar but in slow motion, resulting in richer, deeper tones. The evolution doesn’t stop here. Changes in facial structure, like broader noses, roomier sinuses, and bigger facial bones, also play a role. The more facial space these features have, the farther and clearer your voice projects.
However, these transitions don’t always unfold smoothly. Sometimes, our bodies outpace themselves. The sudden growth spurts and the shifting sizes of our vocal components can challenge our brains, which struggle to keep the vocal outputs consistent. So, every so often, young Billy’s voice does a high-pitched salsa dance as his brain grapples with his body’s rapid alterations.
A few quick facts
- Puberty typically announces its arrival between ages 9 and 16.
- The vocal cords of newborn boys and girls are identical twins, averaging 2 mm in length. As they grow, girls’ vocal cords take the scenic route, growing at about 0.4 mm annually, while boys’ cords race ahead at 0.7 mm. Eventually, the journey slows, with girls’ vocal cords maxing out at around 10 mm and boys at about 16 mm.
Understanding the Vocal Transition
First and foremost, education is essential. By understanding what’s happening in the body during this time, both you and your son can navigate these voice changes with more empathy and patience. Provide your son with easy-to-understand materials or videos that explain why these voice changes occur during puberty. Knowledge often dispels fear and embarrassment.
Voice Training Exercises
There are simple voice exercises and warm-ups that can help in smoothing out the voice during this transitional phase. Consider signing your son up for vocal lessons or searching online for voice training tutorials. These exercises can help in gaining better control over the pitch and volume of the voice.
Initiate casual conversations about the changes everyone goes through during adolescence. This helps in normalizing the experience. Share personal anecdotes or stories from family members about their awkward puberty moments. It can be comforting for your son to know he’s not alone and that this phase will pass.
Boosting Confidence with Hobbies
Engage your son in activities or hobbies that boost his self-esteem. Whether it’s a sport, art, music, or any other hobby, focusing on talents and passions can offer a welcome distraction from the vocal changes and potential awkwardness.
Seeking Support Groups
If your son feels particularly self-conscious about his changing voice, consider finding support groups or online communities for adolescents going through similar experiences. Connecting with peers facing the same challenges can be a source of comfort and camaraderie.
The larynx or voice box also undergoes alterations, resulting in a voice that can fluctuate in pitch. While these changes are a natural part of growth, they can lead to those unexpected high notes or voice “breaks.”
Pros of Those Unexpected High Notes
Natural Milestone Marker
Voice changes signal the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a clear indication that an adolescent is undergoing puberty and is advancing towards maturity. This can be a source of pride for some, knowing that they are entering a new phase in their life.
Although voice cracks can sometimes lead to embarrassment, they can also serve as a conversation starter among peers, helping adolescents bond over shared experiences. Many people recall their voice change phase with humor and nostalgia later in life.
Opportunity for Education
Voice changes provide a chance for parents and educators to teach adolescents about the human body and the science of puberty. It’s an opportune moment to discuss the broader spectrum of changes they’re undergoing, promoting understanding and acceptance.
Cons of Those Unexpected High Notes
One of the most glaring cons is the potential embarrassment adolescents may feel when their voice cracks unexpectedly, especially in social situations like answering a question in class or talking to friends.
Self-consciousness and Confidence Dips
As adolescents are already navigating a myriad of changes, unexpected voice changes can add to their self-consciousness. They might feel insecure about their voice, leading to decreased participation in class discussions or social conversations.
Misunderstandings and Teasing
A suddenly squeaky or deep voice might lead to misunderstandings. Peers might misinterpret what’s being said or might tease the adolescent for the voice change, which can be distressing.
With the vocal cords and larynx undergoing changes, there might be a period where adolescents need to relearn their vocal range, especially if they’re involved in singing or theatre. This can be frustrating and might affect their performance in these activities.