The Joy of Singing
From my point of view, there is only one reason a person should sing, and that is purely the joy of singing itself. Singing is its own reward. Making music with our voice is a gift that can’t be compared with anything else.
Fame and fortune are by products
Some singers are consumed with the idea of becoming a house-hold name, selling out arenas around the world, having paparazzi follow their every move, selling millions of downloads and cds each year, and having adoring fans screaming and cheering at their every move. There is nothing at all wrong with having this desire. But is the quest for fame a prerequisite for mastering the art of singing? When we lose sight that the joy of singing is its own reward, we fall prey to the erroneous idea that there is some “end result” which comes from singing. In reality there is no loftier goal for a singer than to sing well, period. A professional’s first priority should be the joy of singing, and their marketing should be secondary.
A singer who loses sight of the fact that singing in and of itself is a joy can easily be swayed by the opinions and directions of so-called “experts” such as coaches, directors, A&R executives, celebrity judges on televised singing contests and the like. When a singer loses contact with their own joyful identity as a singer, they easily question their own abilities and artistic choices. The moment an artist “sells out” is usually also the moment they have forgotten who they are and why they are singing.
Singing is for all
There is a pervasive belief that “real” singers are those who strive for professional performing careers, and all else who sing are “mere hobbyists.” Somehow being famous gives a singer validity. But the reality is that a desire to be a professional is not a prerequisite for being a fine singer.
I work with quite a lot of professional singers, and it can be a tough yet rewarding way to make a living. However, some of my most gifted and accomplished singers have no desire for the lifestyle of a professional performer. They sing for the pure joy of it. They perform in less lofty arenas. Are the non-professionals any less important because they don’t desire fame as singers? I think not. In fact the majority of accomplished vocalists in this world do not sing as a full time profession.
The joy of singing is its own reward
Money is wonderful, but it can’t ever be the true reward for singing. The nefarious belief that singing is primarily something for a select few who are pros is a relatively new idea, which causes many people to feel they have no right to participate at all.
Who are the majority of the singers in the world?
- the mother who sings lullabies to her children,
- the family gathered around a piano singing favorite songs,
- the group of friends harmonizing around a fire on the beach,
- the musical theater performer who sings in several shows at community theater each year,
- the neighbors gathered on a porch playing and singing together,
- the church choir and soloists who rehearse each week to sing at church each Sunday,
- the local community chorus giving their quarterly concert,
- the barbershop quartet who sings at local events,
- the Christmas carolers who perfect their four-part harmonies so they can sing at the company holiday party,
- the friends who sing karaoke religiously every Saturday to showcase the songs they have been practicing all week,
- the dedicated high school singers who study voice to sing in their school musicals, concert choirs and show choirs.
These people all understand the joy of singing.
Belittling a child’s singing voice is abuse
Having taught singing for the past two decades now, I have come to realize that there are a great many people who have a desire to sing that has been suppressed. The most pervasive reason for this suppression stems from the fact that as children, some adult whom they respected a great deal told them they couldn’t sing. Students constantly tell me how an adult laughed at them for singing, or ridiculed their singing voice in some way. People may not realize how damaging this kind of behavior can actually be.
The fact is, telling a belittling a child’s singing voice is tantamount to child abuse in my opinion. It causes those children to grow up wishing they could sing, but believing that there is something wrong with them. They always think that they would love to sing, but they have a disability. This is an unnecessary and avoidable tragedy that takes a lot of time and work to overcome.
There is at least a little bit of a natural born singer in each of us. Singing is part of the human condition. Don’t let anyone convince you that you don’t have a “good voice.” You were born to sing.