Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How's the singing at your place?

Community singing is counter-cultural. For most people occasions for such an undertaking can be recorded on a three fingers: "happy birthday to you", national anthems, and football team songs if we are lucky enough to enjoy a victory.

Just 40 years ago community singing was a common source of entertainment at the pub, around the pianola, in the car or school bus, around the campfire, and even in church meetings. These days it is something of a spectator sport.

One wonderful memory I have is of a time my family travelled to Europe in 1980. We were in Wales, and the sun was setting, when a dozen miners walked past our campervan on their way home, singing in four-part harmony at the top of their lungs. Gorgeous.

These days singing, and perhaps music generally, is regarded as a specialist activity to be undertaken only by those with sufficently attractive voice or instrumental proficiency. It is a state not helped by the rise of television shows such as "Australia's Got Talent' and Australian Idol', which invariably invite viewers to pass judgement on another's ability. The church, and perhaps the primary school and kindergarten, are the last remaining bastions of community singing.

In my childhood, I remember the singing in church to have been fantastic, with people, often the men, adding harmony parts to the mix. In many cultures this is still the case.

And yet, harmony parts aside, the confidence of the faith community's sung voice is also less enthusiastic than it might be. I believe this is largely because of a lack of confidence.

Do the people in your faith community sing with enthusiasm? Is there a performance culture, or are all assured of a welcome in the corporate song? How are people welcomed into the song? How is the singing at your place?

You may also be interested in
Virtual Music Barriers
Why don't the Children Sing?


blair cameron said...

Heya Lucy,

There are two places I'm involved with at the moment, and the singing is varied. One will give pretty much anything a confident go, if it's led strongly; while the other is too self-conscious, but loves singing the old stuff they know well.

Each has a small choir, which I'll be looking to work on if I end up spending a long time with them.

Lucy Graham said...

Hi Blair,

What do you think the difference between the two places is due to? Sometimes confidence is affected by acoustics, or the manner in which people sit - too spread out? I'd be interested on your observations when you next have a moment to respond.

Squirrel said...

I only just found your blog - sorry if my replies to old posts are no longer relevant.

We have no choir any more. We got a new organ last year, and the organist is still not confident about the volume she is playing at. One elderly lady told her it was too loud (but refused to move away from the speaker {sigh}) so she turned the volume down. Now everyone else is scared to sing out in case they're heard!

Confidence is a big thing. I've been volunteered to start a singing group and my aim is to boost confidence as well as provide a solid "backing group" to lead the singing. I'm trawling the internet for ideas on how to do it, never having lead a singing group before.

Thank you for your blog!