Dr. Thomas Moore, Early Childhood Consultant
“What?” I hear you thinking. “Does this guy know the economy stinks and we can’t seem to agree about anything? What planet is he living on? How can singing possibly matter when the world is so tense?”
The state of the world is exactly why we need to sing more. We must not let fear dominate us. Throughout history, when times have been bad, people have sung to keep themselves going. People sing when there seems to be nothing to hang onto, to have some way to release all that’s inside. Singing is a way to create inner peace from the inside out.
As our nation seems to be so polarized, we need a road we can all travel to connect us again. No matter your politics, singing provides a means for expressing that we’re all Americans. It can lead to dialogue. Dialogue can lead to sound decisions. Singing is a way to be powerful and share power.
I remember the story of how Stan Brookshire, then mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was invited to a 1968 rally honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. Most people didn’t think Mayor Brookshire would come. He did. Then he joined the singing! It was a more emphatic statement of support than anything he could have said.
For the spiritually inclined, singing is a way of calling on the Higher Power. If you aren’t free enough to say, “I’m going to raise my voice, too,” then the rest of us have missed a lot. Maybe it’s your voice — just one extra voice — that will make the difference and bring forth the spiritual connection we need.
If you feel shy about singing, or think you have an awful voice, you’re not alone. We are accustomed to passively watching performers. And sadly, many people were told as children that they had “bad voices”. If someone told you that you have a bad speaking voice, would you stop talking?
The predominant culture of the United States tends to focus on the cognitive, with less emphasis on physical development. Singing is a physical and emotional activity. Think about it. How many times do you touch nonfamily members in the course of the day? How many times would you touch if you lived in Italy or Kenya? Our culture discourages even hugs for friends, let alone friendly pats on the back. I believe this lack of physicality traps and isolates us. Singing invites us to come closer to each other. It invites harmony.
I encourage you to sing in houses of worship, at home with your loved ones, in the car with your children. But don’t stop there. Sing and teach “America the Beautiful” and other patriotic songs. Open PTA or club meetings with inclusive songs that will welcome participants. Try singing at board meetings. Some say it’s unprofessional to sing at a business event. I contend that if you want people to work together, create an opportunity for them to sing.
Singing changes the energy in a room. For a nonprofit board where I was a member, I incorporated song and movement during a meeting. From comments afterward, I learned that the event set a new tone for many board members. After that, members participated more — listening more attentively and offering more ideas — because they trusted each other. They loosened up and connected.
Our city and our nation need a stronger sense of community in these nerve-wracking days. Singing is one way to achieve it. I invite you to reclaim the beauty of your singing voice. And the next time I see you, I want to hear it. Let us join hands and sing.
Thomas Moore, Ph.D is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, early childhood consultant, author and children’s recording artist. He is also Associate Professor of Elementary Education, Child and Family Studies at Benedict College. Visit him at www.drthomasmoore.com