Why We Sing...
I recently joined a vocalist discussion board that my friend Benjamin Asher recommended. While many of its members are focused exclusively on the academic and provable side of voice production and science, I've met others with some really wonderful, out-of-the-box ideas.
Jonathan Doyel had one such idea, and decided to start a discussion group dedicated to exploring it further. Simply called "WHY?", the group aims to figure out why we sing. Not why we should, now how we should, not what we hope to achieve, but why we do.
This may seem like a simple question. But Jonathan made me realize that while I've certainly thought a lot about singing over the years, I haven't spent nearly as much time thinking about why I sing.
My initial gut reaction to the question was that singing for some of us is like breathing. It's like oxygen. These thoughts came to me over His Eye Is On The Sparrow playing in my head: "I sing because I'm happy... I sing because I'm free."
But so often this WHY? gets covered over… by fear, perfectionism and judgment. By the need to make simple things complicated in order to feel smarter, better and more important. Or by simply 'maturing' and becoming an 'adult'. We leave the wonder behind in our pursuit of knowledge, confidence, academia, success, power, fame, attention… and forget the joy of the experience, as well as the wisdom of that joy.
A child doesn't need to understand the composites of sand to play on the beach. Nor does she need to know the molecular structure of water to splash around in the waves or to lose herself in tasting a raindrop that's landed on her tongue.
Why do I sing? I sing to open up. I sing to share. I sing to discover who I am. I sing to discover who I want to be. I sing to transcend my body. I sing to expand out the boundaries of my emotions... to feel more, be more, taste more. To grow. To fly. I sing to tell the story of what I've learned with others, and to ask others to share their stories with me.
I sing to feel. I sing to love.
Understanding the science and psychology of singing is fascinating. But in the stillness, at the end of the day, wherever and whenever my voice and I share a moment, it's the joy, rather than the knowledge, that leads me on. It's the mystery of this wild gift inside of me- the WHY?- that brings tears to my eyes.