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Sing: Just Do It

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You can sing. Yes, you can. “But I sound terrible.” You speak. You phonate. Therefore, you can hold a pitch. “I can’t carry a tune.” Most likely, if you are singing along with a song, you are carrying its tune. “I’m tone deaf.” Alright, this does happen, but not as often as you think, and probably not true, unless you’ve specifically had a musician say to you, “Shut up, you’re tone deaf.” Too often I see people singing along with a song while dancing or humming a Christmas carol only to shrink away from the idea of singing when specifically asked to do it. There are a myriad of excuses as to why a person doesn’t feel comfortable singing, when in reality most of us do it all day long. There is some stigma that comes with offering to sing at mass or in a choir that assumes anyone willing to do it has openly declared themselves to be God’s gift to the musical world. This isn’t the case. Most people who sing for fun (i.e., are anything other than a voice major) do it because it’s just that – fun. They don’t necessarily think they’re hot stuff, but they don’t feel ashamed of letting their own musical light shine. So why are so many people afraid to sing in public? This is a problem that frustrates me to no end. I am a voice major. It’s my job to sing. For some reason, whenever I ask other people to sing with me at dorm mass or just because, some inevitably excuse themselves and say, “You’re the voice major.” Okay, kids, just because I’ve devoted my time here to studying music doesn’t mean my presence makes you sing any worse. In fact, I am far more interested in hearing other people sing that myself a lot of the time because I spend most of the day listening to myself. Everyone can sing. Everyone who talks has the physical capability of making noise with his or her vocal chords. I would like to erase this stigma that the only people who should sing are the few who are devoting their life to it. This just isn’t the case. People sing not only to sound beautiful, but also to express feelings on a higher level. To sing is to pray twice, which means God doesn’t matter if you’re tone deaf, he still wants you to have the experience of lifting your voice in song, even if you have no idea what pitch you’re lifting it to. On Saturday night I went to the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir concert. It was a phenomenal, moving experience not only because the music and performing was, itself, very good, but also because every person there was singing for the right reasons. No one was their because they felt it was smart to join a choir and appear well rounded on their resume, or because their parents thought it was a good idea, but because they wanted to fulfill a primal human need – to raise one’s voice in higher praise. There is something basic and satisfying about letting go of all inhibition and crying out with a voice. Not every soloist was perfect, but if they all had been, it would have been boring. Each singer brought their own conviction and story to the music, and it was the joy in singing that they each displayed that made the concert so filling for the listener. This is why true singers sing. It’s not to show off or prove something, but to rejoice in their ability to transcend this earth-bound existence. Therefore, I am calling you to sing. You who claim to be awful, you who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I call you to sing and sing out. Sing ye loudly, and with reckless abandon.