I love singing. I have always been encouraged to sing from a really young age. I have a recording of me singing to my grandparents on cassette – I think I was under the age of two. I’ve sung in school choirs, in vocal ensembles, in musicals (a few – not a fan of musicals. OK… I know a lot of people like them. They’re not really for me. Move on now.), in pubs, in buses, in many showers….
It makes me sad when I hear adults say “I can’t sing.” Actually, there are very few people who can’t sing. Some people can only sing a few notes – they may have a really low voice, or a really high one – but nearly everyone can actually sing. Some bastard music teacher has come around and told these now-grown-ups they couldn’t sing as a child, usually. Death to that music teacher, I say. I really do get sad. I actually want to hug whoever has just said that to me, and talk to them, and sing with them. Truly.
Last week, I had a number of moments that made me realise how GOOD singing is. You see, when you sing, with others, there’s all sorts of great health stuff that goes on. Dopamine is produced, your heart starts to beat at the same speed as those who are around you (true!), your brain starts firing…. It really is one of the best things you can do with others that’s (a) legal, (b) cheap and (c) doesn’t involve taking your clothes off.
Here’s a few great singing stories that have happened to me just in the last week.
At one school I go into, singing is all I do there. I have two huge choirs, and I’m very popular there (yes – the choir teacher is popular. Read that part again.). Kids love it. They will sing in parts, in rounds, with actions, without actions… and they will tunefully bellow. I look at kids having SUCH A GOOD TIME. Singing. I was working with 170 (yes, you read that right.) kids teaching them ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’. They had been learning it for three weeks – and they got to the end. We stopped and I said ‘Well done! You’ve done it!’ Quick as a flash someone said ‘So can we sing it again now? All the way through?’ I said ‘Really? You want to do this all over again?’ ‘YES!’
At another school, a teacher who I love to bits said he’d had a really awful day. In fact, he’d had a really awful week. So I got his class to sing to him. He grinned and looked at me. “This is the first time I’ve really smiled at school all week” he said.
I’ve also just come back from a wonderful school in the country (I have to say it’s wonderful, as I know teachers at the school read this! Actually, it is wonderful – I’d write that anyway….) – and the high point for me this visit was the choir. After two days, a group of kids learned a song for ANZAC day. Not just the song though – also AUSLAN sign language for the words they sing. And they nailed it. Even little children. I saw children concentrating their damnedest. Kids who were shy singing proudly. Kids who are fidgetbodies sitting still. And everyone singing. And loving it. Really loving it. So they weren’t just singing, but they were excelling themselves. And they were completely inspiring to watch.
It’s so good, you know. Singing. You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to do it.