Why I Sing

Perhaps Robert Lowry said it best:

Through all the tumult and the strife,

I hear that music ringing.

It finds an echo in my soul.

How can I keep from singing?

Music heals, particularly choral music. Who of us has not had days (or weeks or months) when pain and grief nearly overwhelmed us?

Music connects, particularly choral music. Who of us, in this divided and divisive world, hasn’t wanted to feel a part of something beautiful and good?

Music, like truth, speaks to power, particularly choral music. Who of us doesn’t occasionally need reminding that not everyone shares our narrow worldview?

A recent article in the Kansas City Star noted the many personal and practical benefits gained when human beings make music. They relax, their heart rate slows, their blood pressure lowers, their brains are stimulated, their sense of well-being is enhanced. They even live longer! Singers—even minimally talented ones like me—know all this intuitively, which is why they are willing to set aside projects, children, housework, and even other pleasures, to come together and make music. I see such passion for singing in the Liberty Community Chorus, but it’s not just a local or an American thing. I’ve seen the same passion in Tallinn, Estonia (think “the singing revolution”), and in a small town in eastern Turkey, where teachers and shop-keepers and soldiers and university students and retirees were meeting (in a former insane asylum, which may mean something!) to learn and sing their culture’s folk songs, lest they be forgotten forever. Music brings such joy: how can anyone keep from singing?

Jane Woodruff, Professor, William Jewell College

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