Author: Campbell, Bruce

In Defense of Those Who Hate to Sing

Marcos Alvira wrote a column some time ago, where he bravely confessed to hating to sing. This column spawned a Message Board thread on the subject with a lot of interesting commentary. Nancy Zuniga’s comment on Owen Saunders’ “distinct vocal attributes” was very apt, because it brought an important point: Everyone that can utter a noise can sing. Whether or not anyone would want to hear it is the point.

Some folks sing very well, very naturally, and it’s easy to just let them do all the singing. For these people, pitch control seems to be effortless, and the pure tones just leap out of their throats – it’s amazing to behold, and often delightful. But singing is much more than just pitch and volume. Good singing conveys emotion and tells a story, and it’s possible to do that even when pitch is a challenge – inflection, rhythm, and yes, “distinct vocal attributes” can make a memorable vocal. Some singers with perfect pitch aren’t necessarily as interesting to hear as a singer whose voice takes you on a journey.

There’s simply no more natural way to express yourself musically than by singing. The instrument is built into your body, and literally directly connected to your brain and heart. The possibilities are endless. But unless you’re one of those “born” singers, it can be very difficult to cultivate your singing voice. It can be humiliating to see people wince when you hit a wrong note, and sometimes, that’s all it takes to convince someone to abandon singing altogether.

And honestly, if you’ve decided you hate singing, that’s your choice to make. But I think in most cases, it’s a mistake. I speak to you as a person who used to hate singing. On one level, it worked in my favor, because I concentrated on learning to play instruments with emotion and precision (uh, I’m STILL working on that, by the way), and that was a worthwhile pursuit. But I realized I still was singing in the shower, and in the car. ALL the time. I couldn’t stop singing altogether – it’s how the music trapped in my brain escapes.

So instead of refusing to sing, I tried to pick my spots. I sang songs I felt, and chose melodies I could handle, phrasing that appealed to me. I learned which keys were in my range. Oh, I still saw winces now and again, but slowly, I gained some confidence, and eventually could render some songs with some real verve (ie – “Distinct vocal attributes). Perfect pitch I will have to leave to vocal savants. I sing from the heart, and make a joyous noise unto the Lord, even though He may occasionally put His hands over His ears...

If you really don’t want to sing, that’s your prerogative. If you think you hate singing because you think you sing poorly, please reconsider. You’re missing out on a lot of fun (and sometimes, good laughs!), and the joy of expressing yourself. Not all great singers are born – some are made.

Posted:  4/25/2012

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