Julia Pinckney Jones
I Wish I Could Sing, but...
I wish I could sing, but...
... I can't carry a tune in a bucket. ... my voice just sounds so terrible. ... I have to be really drunk, first. ... [insert reason/excuse here]
It makes me sad, frankly, to think that so many people will never know the sheer, unadulterated joy of singing out as loudly as they want to, for whomever may be in the vicinity, unselfconsciously and just because it feels good. And baby, it feels GOOD.
So what makes us believe we can't sing, and what can we do about it?
Music - making it as well as simply enjoying it - is as vital as physical activity to keep us sane and healthy. In fact, making music (playing an instrument or singing) is physical activity! Imagine if we thought of exercise the same way we think about singing.
I, for example, am pretty clumsy and have no hand/eye coordination, short legs and no gift at any sport I've ever tried. I'm not fast, I'm not terribly strong, and while I'm pretty competitive, that part of my nature is more directed at board games than field games. But I know that being physically active is good for me, that sports can be fun whether I'm any good at them or not, and that I will be in a much better position to enjoy my life if I get off my butt and do some yoga or go swimming or join my friends for some frisbee.
From earliest childhood, we are encouraged to get active: to play sports or work out because, even if we're not very good at it, being active is good for us.
However, the messages we get about making music are much less clear. We see numerous articles like this one, or this one, or this one, telling us that learning music is good for us, and yet somehow, if a person doesn't demonstrate a level of innate talent in music by the time they're out of elementary school, that person is discouraged, actively or passively, from continuing to participate at all. And that's just ridiculous, and unacceptable.
It may be true that most of us will never be good enough singers to make any portion of our living at it. The thing is, that's okay! It's not about being great at it. It's about enjoying it. It's about participating in making music, and allowing ourselves to express ourselves in a way we maybe haven't tried since we were kids. It's about letting go of the fear and doing something that not only feels good, but is scientifically proven to do good things for our minds, bodies and hearts (literally and figuratively).
If it helps to take some lessons - to improve your ear, or your tone or your confidence, go to it! It's no different than hiring a trainer to improve your physique. Join a choir (just like the gym!) But most importantly, sing!
Sing in the car, sing in the shower, sing around the campfire, sing at karaoke... sing.
We all know how this one goes, right?
Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song!