Guerilla Carolling

I couldn’t help it. The carols were swirling around in my head and I had to sing. I was standing at a crowded bus stop surrounded by holiday shoppers. I knew they had probably been hearing some weird distortions of Christmas carols in their various shopping venues, and some might not want to hear any more carols in public space, but I couldn’t hold back, because my antidote to all that weirdness is the reassurance of my own voice singing traditional carols “straight-up.”

I sang, quietly, Angels We Have Heard On High. A few people turned their heads but no one joined in at that point. No one told me to shut up, though, so when I got on the bus I was emboldened to engage the two girls near me in a discussion of their favourite carols. When I heard that they had been learning French ones at school I sang Un Flambeau, Jeannette Isabelle and I can still see the delighted smiles on those girls’ faces as they listened. It turned out they didn’t know it but they said they liked it so I did the second verse.

Their mom suggested that they would know Christmas Song, and so I launched into that one, after insisting that the mom sing it with me. Then I noticed a strong voice on my other side, as another woman joined us, and little by little the young ones joined as bits of it came back to them.  It was beautiful!

I moved to sit next to the one who had joined us, as an older woman with a walker needed my seat, so we started talking about singing in choirs and recreationally, and the joy we both get from the experience, and just as I was thinking we should do another one, I heard two small voices singing and looked over to see the girls singing (and dancing in their seats) a piece from the musical Seussical. It was brilliant! At our urging they did an encore from the show, which they are rehearsing for a school production.

I am pretty sure those girls would not have felt so free to sing on the bus if I hadn’t started it, so I felt really good to have inspired them to do that. We all felt better for it.

So if you feel your voice welling up inside of you and wanting to burst out on the bus or a crowded street corner, do it! No one will hurt you and someone may be inspired to sing with you.


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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One Response to Guerilla Carolling

  1. Ranald Thurgood says:

    Great story. I was in the store where you work that same day, and found that the so-called carols playing constantly were extremely irritating. I wondered: why are these people trying to irritate their customers, and what have they got against Christmas Carols sung sweetly with feeling? Thanks for creating some beauty to compensate.


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