The lost art of singing

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BY TANIA DE JONG. There was a time when everyone used to sing. We sat around campfires, at parties and at school. We sang our stories and our dreams. We sang alone and together.

Nowadays not many of us sing. We think we can’t because someone at some time has told us not to sing, because we are not good enough. We worry that we will be judged and not as good as the celebrities we idolise.

We worry that people will think we are strange if we sing, or that they will not like us. Or they might think we cannot sing. That we won’t fit in. I was told as a 14-year-old never to bother having singing lessons! Now I am a professional soprano.

Our voices have been silenced, and it’s not doing us any good. We use our voices in the shower or the car, places where no one else can hear us and share in the unique expression of our spirits.

Yet think of those times when we see a free spirit singing and expressing themselves creatively in public. People are moved and start smiling and connecting with one another. Within each of us a light gets turned on, a light that reminds us that we can be free to be ourselves.

When one of the choirs from Creativity Australia’s With One Voice sing We are the World I am reminded that we are all one, no matter what our background, culture or religion. We each have a unique voice and long to connect more deeply to one another in this super-connected global world.

So often we are afraid to be ourselves for fear of failure, rejection and dismissal. I know so many people who would love to sing with others in a choir or karaoke or even at synagogue, but dare not do it in front of other people. Singing is indeed a lost art and we need to teach the whole world to sing again.

So why does music and singing hold such potentially enormous intrinsic value? International research illustrates the benefits of singing for a range of purposes, from healing those with strokes and depression to enhancing learning and other skills.

Neuroscience is proving that singing connects us to the often neglected right side of our brain. The use of the right brain releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals that trigger fun, enjoyment, happiness and relaxation. These chemicals also fight illness, help boost our immune system and handle pain better.

Singing can help us to break free of our self-limiting beliefs and find a new sense of wellbeing, hope and joy. Why not try actively starting to sing whenever you feel like it: at the shops, in the car park or at the gym? You might just make someone’s day! And who knows – perhaps they will even sing along with you and be reminded of their love of singing.

Singing is not about being a star or knowing how to do it well. It’s about enjoying the gift of our voices, our music and our songs and sharing them with others. It’s primal and it’s tribal. It’s about passion, inspiration and spirit. About unlocking parts of yourself which are longing to come out to play and helping inspire others to do the same. And the more you do it the better you will get. We were born to sing.

Tania de Jong AM is a leading Australian soprano, social entrepreneur, speaker and expert on leadership, creativity and innovation. She founded Creativity Australia and Creative Universe and works with diverse communities through the With One Voice choir social inclusion programs. Tania performs internationally with her group Pot-Pourri, which has released seven CDs. She is founder of MTA Entertainment & Events and Creative Innovation Global, which is staging the Creative Innovation 2013 conference in Melbourne on November 27-29. Enquiries: www.creativeuniverse.com.au.