I am not musically inclined. This is an understatement. My singing sounds like an alley cat being ironed. There is a tune playing in my head when I sing, but unfortunately it has no resemblance to the actual tune of a given song. Invention and interpretation are strengths in self expression, but inventive minus skill just equals bad.
I went through a brief, embarrassing Karaoke phase in college where the local bar proprietor would wander around with a microphone and ask patrons “anybody want to sing? Anybody?” and pass me by as if I were invisible, rather than raising my hand and waving it wildly. Even this failed to stop me. My true ah-ha moment of fully recognizing my singing impairment came to me at a Karaoke-equipped restaurant. I was warbling out “Last Time I Saw Him” and my entire team of coworkers averted as well as shielded their eyes. There was no more Not Knowing after that point.
Now days even my children will cut me off when I start to sing in the car. This exchange happened last week:
“Uh, mom?” Jonah asked.
“Yes pumpkin?” I trilled.
“Could we just have quiet?”
“You like it when daddy sings,” I pointed out, as if singing voices were some kind of interchangeable widget.
“Yeah.” Jonah said simply, and with a note of regret.
I take some small comfort in being tuneless and pitch deaf: I ever needed to beg for money I could stand on a street corner and collect change in order to STOP singing.
Nevertheless I love singing and insist on doing it. My advice to anyone in my car is to keep ear plugs at the ready.
Music has a lot in common with mental health. NOT because some people are “good at it” and some better keep their day job. No, music and mental health are related because good tune has both repetition and variation. We like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Mozart’s Anything He’s Ever Composed because both these composers were masters at making their listeners experience a logical progression(safety, predictability) as well as delightful variation (novelty, surprise, which provides a recognition that we are alive) in their music.
Here is the real Secret, not to be confused with that silly “visualize a sports car and it will be yours” movie (I’m all for visualization, but how about equal time being spent encouraging the video audience to visualize global peace, the end of homelessness, a healthy environment, that kind of thing, eh?): The Secret to balance is VARIETY to spark our sense of ENGAGEMENT with life, and REPITITION to provide us with COMFORT of familiarity.
I once heard it said like this: human beings are most satisfied with life when they experience it as a series of long and short trips away from a stable home base. Now doesn’t that sound lovely? A place to return which is welcoming and regular, juxtaposed against a spice of fresh experiences and opportunities. Sign me up!
Dr. Andrew Weil put out a lovely healing music CD with Kimba Arem “Self Healing With Sound and Music” using of all things, the didgeridoo. Dr Weil proposes music to be another form of nutrition.
Think of music with a heavy, driving beat (Rock, Punk, House, Rap, etc) as the fried food/decadent desert category and music with a light, playful tone (classic, some jazz, ) as fruit/veggies, and calm, solemn music (sacred music, indigenous) as beans and rice.
And the category for my singing? Insecticide! My upcoming CD “Twenty Songs for Killing Dandelions” will be out soon.