Sing loud

Human voices can be quite loud without the addition of any electronic amplification. Just think of the last time you heard a baby crying in a crowded, noisy store. Did it not penetrate your awareness and make you hope the parents would remove the baby as soon as possible? Babies are not self-conscious and when they are hurting they let us all know about it.

Most of us have been socialized not to yell in public and I am glad of that. But when we are in situations where loud singing is possible and desirable, such as group singing, or in private where no one can hear us and we are able to fully express ourselves, all that socialization can get in the way, and we don’t sing loud enough to hear ourselves or be heard. If we cannot hear ourselves well, we are much more likely to sing off-key, and that can be discouraging if we are trying to train our brains to recognize and match pitches. Singing loud enough to hear ourselves gives us the feedback to be able to change the pitch if we perceive it to be different from what the others are singing, or the record, or our internal memory of what it should sound like. If you are nervous about pitch, the tendency is to sing quietly so you will not disturb others. To get over that, practise singing loud when by yourself, even if it is wrong. It doesn’t matter. You will get better over time if you keep singing, and if you sing loud you will get better faster as you recognize your pitch errors more quickly.

The other part of singing loud in a group is to add your weight to the circle. When a few people are singing together and one or two are very quiet, it is like there is a hole on that side of the circle. Singing loud balances the sound among those present so we can feel each other’s presence, which is much more effective for community bonding. It can make the whole experience stronger for everyone. Just think of the last time you felt really good about singing a song in a group. Was it loud?

Once you have become comfortable singing loud, it is great to practise singing quietly as well, and this adds depth to the experience, individually and in groups. It also makes it possible to sing on the bus without bothering people. But until you can sing loud, the quiet stuff is not so useful or satisfying.

So sing loud!

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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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