I read these words years ago when researching to acquire and gain information on the topic of finding one’s voice. Mostly for the sake of helping a singer in my Adult Choir at church discover the difference between their singing voice and their talking voice. These words, from a blog post by Maya Rogers have stuck with me since reading them. They have almost become my mantra when working with church musicians who give of their time for the greater good, responding to the call from the church to use their gifts and talents to minister to others.
I do not sense an implication that everyone should become a professional singer, or even that all voices are conventionally pleasing to the ears. What I do believe about that statement is that human beings are quite literally made to sing. Regrettably, individuals tell us that they have been told at some point during their formative years that they can’t sing or shouldn’t sing in public because they have a terrible voice. So consequently, they shy away from using their voices to express themselves and from speaking their truth.
At Summer Dialogue 2022, we were fortunate to have Melanie DeMore, a Vocal Activist whose thirty- year career has been dedicated to teaching, lecturing, mentoring, conducting, directing, and inspiring children and adults about the power of song as social and political change, present to us. Melanie is the director for the 2022-2023 SATB All-State Choir and shared with us in a morning session, “A Song Can Hold Us Up.” I was immediately drawn into the presentation, simply by the immensely evident love for song that oozes out of Melanie. Thoughts, feelings, phrases were easily set to an easy-to-sing melody and those in attendance invited to join in singing.
Maya Rogers’ words came to mind as I listened to the presentation. And as I participated I was reaffirmed in my belief that singing makes one feel good. Endorphins are released when one sings which help to promote positive feelings. This is especially true when one sings with other people. Group singing also induces the production of oxytocin (the bonding hormone). This can reduce stress, anxiety and increase feelings of trust and well-being.
Singing is good for one’s health. It is considered an aerobic activity because of the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the brain. One’s breath has immense restorative power, can reduce stress and can even put one into a meditative state. Moreover, singing decreases cortisol levels (stress hormone), which allow one to produce more antibodies that boost one’s immune system.
Singing makes one a better person. When one sings, there is a certain amount of vulnerability that is required. This vulnerability allows one to learn a lot about oneself, what motivates one, what one is capable of and what one truly desires. Through the creative act of singing one encounters the truest selves. So singing on a regular basis can bring one face to face with who one really is and one’s unique purpose.
Singing can help one make the world a better place. When one understands who one is at our core and what unique qualities they possess, one stops comparing oneself to another. One begins to speak their truth. The effect which begins in one’s own life, then extends to friends and family, in schools and communities and eventually in the world at large.