lift up your voice and sing

I love to sing.

I've been in choirs and in high school I participated enthusiastically in all the musicals (as well as straight plays -- Ann and Jenn were right there with me!). So help me, I've even sung in a couple of weddings. One was my friend Sarah, who asked both me and Stuart to sing in a quartet at the reception. She chose the piece Rose Liz, a rondeau by the Medieval French composer Machaut. It's pretty hard, and it went horribly. (Sarah, I'm still sorry about that, though I still have a little hope that you and your groom were far too busy enjoying all your wedding guests to notice that the guys were completely lost in the music and the alto and I were sputtering so hard with laughter we could barely sing.)

I've never had any formal one-on-one training as a singer, though I have gleaned quite a lot from accompanying so many voice lessons. That hasn't stopped me from singing in public, though, for better or for worse (see above re: why no one has asked me to sing in a wedding since 2000.) If I were asked to sing a solo in a public venue, I would almost certainly say no, because I know better than to subject myself or anyone else to my, er, "raw" talent.

But I do love to sing.

Lately, I've really enjoyed singing to Daniel (and of course, Anya.) Daniel is still too young to sing with me; he's still speaking in one- and two-word phrases and has a ways to go before he's matching pitch and singing tunes. But some of his favorite naptime/bedtime/anytime books are by Iza Trapani, an author/illustrator who has added verses and illustrations to well-known folk tunes and children's songs. I think we have nine of her books, and Stuart and I have most of them memorized. I even made up a tune to "Ten Little Monkeys" after Daniel asked me to read it to him so many times I thought I'd lose my mind just reciting the words over and over.

It's great being able to sing with Stuart. He had several years of piano lessons, and we were both in the college choir (corny as it sounds, that's how we initially got to know each other, but that's yet another story). We often burst into song together: the first few lines that we can remember from several hymns, various tracks from the Radiohead album du jour, songs from the Kindermusik class Daniel and I took last spring (he still plays those CDs constantly), and I throw in bits of music theater songs I remember from my high school days. It's not that we're making some special effort to surround our children with singing, but it seems to be happening naturally, and that's something I'm very happy about.

There's just something so spiritual about the human voice. It's the first musical instrument humankind ever had, and it's the only one that doesn't require wood or metal or sheep gut (or any combination thereof) to play. In fact, we don't "play" the voice like we play the piano or the flute, do we? We just sing. Whatever sound your voice makes is particular to you and you only. It comes from within your own body and is made from the air that you inhale and then pass over your vocal chords and around your tongue and out your mouth. (Sorry, that was sort of gross...but true!) When you sing, it's just you. I suppose that's why so many people are shy about singing in public, because it feels a bit like exposing a piece of your soul, and that's not something everyone is willing to do.

Plus, if you play another instrument, you can kind of hide behind it like a security blanket. I guess that makes pianists the most insecure, huh?

It's too bad that most people are afraid to sing (though I can think of a few voice majors from college and grad school that might have been better off if they'd had some of that fear), because I believe singing does the body - and the soul, if you go that way - quite a lot of good. So what if you don't sound like Pavarotti or Joan Sutherland? Singing is a way of expressing your love, your joy, your sadness, your grief. Singing soothes the savage beast, and sometimes, the wailing toddler or crying baby.

Now go! Sing your heart out! I don't care if it's a Billy Ray Cyrus hit from a dozen years ago and you're in the shower with the fan on so no one else can hear, or if you're sittin' around the campfire with ye olde geetar. Lift up your voice, love your voice - and SING!

Comments

abcgirl said…
hear, hear! whenever i hang out with kids, i notice that i sing stuff all the time too (why is that?). useful songs like "thumbs in the thumb place, fingers all together! this is the song we sing in mitten weather!" come back to me just when i need them. and singing boring books is one of my very favorite librarian tricks. i don't pull it out of my bag too often, but i do find it to be a useful tool to stave off my own boredom. (Have you read "I went walking" by sue williams? it just begs to be sung!)
Pamela said…
Awwwwwww... A post after my own heart. Singing in choir or just with one other person is one of the most wonderful ways I can think of to develop camaraderie. I love it! :-)
Steph said…
I read somewhere that after Vatican II reduced the time that monks and nuns were required to sing chants as part of their daily practice that many of them fell ill. Their bodies were just used to singing that much, apparently. So it must be pretty good for you!

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