Singing in our daily lives

One of my goals is to help develop community through group singing, and I personally find the energy in group singing very energizing. However, it is helpful to incorporate solitary singing into your life, so that you develop a repertoire of songs you know well and increase your confidence and skills. The great thing about singing is that we all carry our voices with us all the time. We may not always be able to sing, due to circumstances (jobs, classes, eating, sleeping, etc.) which demand our quiet attention to the task at hand. But everyone’s day contains pockets of singing opportunity. Singing here and there in our daily lives not only helps us helps us learn more songs and get better at singing but feels good in the moment. Here are some suggestions about potential singing situations:

Walking  – Some people are self-conscious about being heard by others, but this does not need to stop you if you think about it. Remember that when we walk by someone and we are singing, they only hear us for a short time, not long enough to get annoyed or tired of our voices, even if they hate that kind of singing. Most of the time we don’t pass a lot of people on residential streets anyway. You can really belt it out when you are walking on deserted pathways in parks or later in the evening. I have also always felt that singing is a good self-defense technique. Who would attack someone who is striding along, in her power, breathing deeply, fully alert and clearly able to yell?

Waiting at the bus stop – Many times we are alone at bus stops, or there are only a few people and we can stand a little away from them if we don’t want to share.

On the bus – This is a little trickier as you don’t necessarily want to annoy the person next to you. When I want to sing on the bus I use a very quiet voice that can hardly be heard over the noise of the engine. This doesn’t fully exercise my voice but it is great for rehearsing lyrics and tricky tune bits.

In the car – Turn off the radio and turn on your voice. If you are alone, the car is a great place to really get into it. You can sing loud, make mistakes, improvise and compose, all without worrying about being heard.

At home – If you can pull out some new songs at home when you have some time and energy to study lyrics, you will find you have more material memorized and ready for those moments out in the world when you feel like singing, alone or with others. If you don’t live alone you may be able to find a quiet place to go in your home while others are busy with their own pursuits. While group singing works best without reading, private study of lyrics in a focused manner (looking and singing, looking away and singing, looking back, looking away) is often an efficient way to learn songs. The main thing is to remember to try singing without reading so you actually learn the lyrics. If you only sing with lyrics in front of you, it is much more difficult to recall them when they are not there.

These are just a few potential singing situations. You will find opportunities if you get into the singing habit. Where do you like to sing? Leave a comment and share your ideas.


About Maura Volante

Maura Volante is a talented and experienced performer. Although she has written many songs over the years, her main focus these days is traditional folk songs. These are songs that have stood the test of time and have an enduring quality that speaks directly and clearly to the human experience. They also tell us about our history. Because these songs are not commonly sung in these post-folk-revival times in which folk music generally means singer-songwriter material, Maura has taken on the project of helping to keep this valuable material alive. Her specialty is Canadian folk songs, but she knows many songs from the British Isles and the USA as well. All her concerts and other programs are designed with group singing in mind. Whether in a concert, a tour, a social gathering, a classroom, a festival or a conference hall, Maura creates an encouraging atmosphere, relaxed and inclusive. She uses her strong voice and facilitation techniques to bring out the best possible music with these voices in this moment. Maura firmly believes that everyone can sing and, moreover, that everyone has a right to sing and be part of group singing activities, without judgement or criticism. No matter what the various skill levels of participants may be in any group singing activity, it always sounds good in a group, because the voices naturally attune with each other. Maura also teaches and calls contra dancing and simpler forms of traditional dancing suitable for all ages, often incorporating group singing into the dancing through the use of play party songs, which are sung by the whole group as they dance.
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3 Responses to Singing in our daily lives

  1. Daphne says:

    I like to sing walking down fisher, between my building and baseline. It’s all farm and at night there are very few people who walk there. I can really belt it out without being worried about people in houses hearing me. It’s wonderful. I get a lot of my practice on songs I think I’ve memorized there, and I do a lot of my lyric writing there as well. Since the store in my building closes at 9, and the Mac’s is also the closest bank machine, I walk that stretch of road a lot.

  2. Joanne Brown says:

    Hi Maura.
    I like to sing in elevators, and sometimes I stop when someone else gets on, and sometimes I continue quietly. Once someone joined me. I tell my ECE students to sing until the song feels like it is theirs.
    Did you hear the story on CBC 1 yesterday about the benefits of singing for people with Parkinson’s Disease? Interesting that it helped to maintain speech capacity for longer and also memory.
    Ciao, Joanne

  3. Ranald Thurgood says:

    I sing a lot around the house, in the car, outdoors. Sometimes I walk out of the house, then realize I’m singing, but think “So what?” When I was a kid in the Maritimes, people sang a great deal in public. In the Atlantic-Canadian culture of my boyhood, as in many North American minority groups, men sang, and some still sing, in front of others — even tough guys did. Doo-wop came out of African-American and Italian guys singing harmony on city street corners. The masculine environments of lumber camps and wooden ships were favourite places for singing folk songs. As you say, Maura, singing is a right. One can sing softly in public when learning a song or feeling shy, but no one has to be silent.

    I often learn words to songs by reading and looking away, as you suggest. When I’ve learned a verse, I add a line of the next one, and keep building the song. Sometimes, I find it better to learn from a recording, which helps train me to be an aural learner, and to pick up subtleties in the tune and timing of a song. A favourite place to sing is in the woods across the street from my home. I’ll take lyrics in my pocket, and if I don’t know a part, I focus on it till I get it. No one’s ever complained, but some squirrels have given me a scolding.

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