Like most of you, I’m sure, if I see one more email, post or news article about what NOT to do regarding the Coronavirus, I think I will scream! Don’t go to work, don’t go out, don’t touch your face, don’t stand too close, don’t do this, don’t do that— and of course these are all necessary safety precautions for our individual health, and for the greater good. But I’m writing my thoughts today about this: Why You Should Still Sing, Now!
I can hear you out there, saying “Is she kidding? I have much more important things to worry about right now!” I get it. I’m worried about those same things, and more– the fear of getting sick, the reality of now losing a big chunk of my income (and my husband’s), how to pay our bills, and the stress of adapting what singing lessons I have left to teach, and my college voice classes, to online learning. I’m afraid of getting my elderly invalid parents and my sister, who cares for them, sick as I go in and out of their home to help. And of course, we all have the even greater fears about how long this crisis will last, and the long-term effect it will have on our personal finances, our well-being and the economy of our country as a whole.
So— what does this have to do with singing? It is this—we all need something positive in our lives right now! We NEED the exercise, the emotional expression, the creativity, and the uplifting feelings that singing gives us. We NEED to think about something other than the current crisis and the uncertain future. We NEED to have a feeling of control, of mastery, or just the sheer exploration of something that gives us a feeling of accomplishment and joy. Something FUN. We NEED to focus on something that takes all our mental and physical energy and crowds out all the negatives in our environment, that feeling where you forget the time passing and all your worries, because you’re so “into”what you’re experiencing in that moment…
But as one of my students said to me lately as he dropped his regular lessons, “My heart just isn’t in it right now”. I understand. I certainly feel that way at times. Believe me, I have spent more time than I should curled up under a blanket, watching classic TV sitcoms and old movies, and trying to tune out the world that way. But then my husband and I prod each other to get up and go take a short walk around our neighborhood, even when we don’t feel like it. And that’s all you need— to get started. Because once we’re out, one lap becomes two, two becomes, three… and singing is the same way. Just tell yourself you’ll do a little singing for 5 or 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be anything formal— just a little gentle warmup exercise and a little bit of a song. You know what will happen? Just like me getting off the couch to take a “short walk”, once you get started, you’ll get energized and motivated, and you’ll want to keep going. Then more warm-up, and more of your song or songs. Before you know it, you’ll get in a good practice session!
You may be thinking, “yeah, that sounds good, but everybody’s home now and I don’t have any privacy”. Yup, that’s a problem for everyone right now. But maybe you can work out a schedule, where everyone gets a little alone time while the others take a walk or go to a different part of the house. Maybe you can sing in the garage, basement or attic. Heck, I live in an apartment, and often sing in my walk-in closet so as not to disturb the neighbors. You can even go sit in your car, or sing outdoors, a distance away from others, so that you feel you can sing out comfortably.
Wherever you do it, and however you carve out the time, just DO it! Many people are lost when they don’t have a regular work/school schedule to follow. So create your own! Get out your planner and make a regular appointment with yourself to sing, just like you can do for exercise, hobbies or anything else that you want to keep going in your life. Making a date with yourself to sing will contribute to your mental and physical health in ways you can’t even imagine. And, if your immediate family members sing, collect everyone and have some fun singing TOGETHER. That’s one of the greatest blessings of music—making it with each other!
Lastly, singing is not only about being in the moment, but it is an investment in your future. Every bit of practicing and singing you do now is moving you forward in your studies, your vocal development and your singing life, whether you’re an amateur or a professional. And, it is a way of telling yourself that there WILL be a singing future— for you, for your choirs and classes and bands that can’t meet right now, and for your own recording projects and future performances. Take this time to learn new music, develop your voice, and know that life will eventually return to normal.
And don’t be afraid to study online with a great teacher— you will continue to learn and grow, and it will keep your motivation alive to pursue your singing. If you can afford it right now, just like buying gift cards and takeout from restaurants to help keep their businesses alive during this crisis, taking singing lessons (or any music lessons!) at this time will help support the thousands of music teachers who have lost part or all of their income because of lost lessons and canceled performances.
In the final analysis, whether you keep taking lessons, sing along with YouTube videos or accompaniment tracks, or sing a cappella in the shower or in your closet, just SING! Today will never happen again, in all its imperfection and stress. So make it a better day, for yourself, and perhaps for others, by singing!