Riva Capellari

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Please Don’t Sing!

News of Note

Please Don’t Sing!!!

Remember “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook?  It wasn’t about becoming a great cook, it was about finding enjoyment in an everyday activity. So why should anyone be discouraged from singing?  Instead of accepting the whole spectrum of abilities, our society seems to dictate that singing is only for those who possess some innate vocal talent.

In her paper, “The Injustice of Singer/Non-singer Labels by Music Educators”, Coleen Widden of the University of Calgary, bemoans the injustice meted out, in many cases, by unsuspecting judges, who base their analysis on a cultural ideal. Teachers who told you to just  “mouth the words”; family members who stifled any attempt you may have made to sing. In her research, Ms. Widden has discovered that even offhand remarks can become internalized and have long lasting negative effects. There is a strong emotional connection between a judgmental childhood experience and our concept of ourselves as adults. Assuming we lack the necessary skills and will therefore, fail, we deny ourselves the enjoyment of this musical experience.

A wonderful quote by Otto Jesperson: “There is no human culture no matter how remote or isolated, that does not sing”. Ethnomusi-cologist John Blacking discovered that the Venda people in Africa believe all humans are born with the capacity to make music. Anthropologists tell us that humans have been hard wired to sing since their beginning. So why should singing be denied someone based upon a one time, surface evaluation of their vocal ability? The closer truth is, singing skills can be nurtured and developed like any other. There is a normal, cognitive process that is influenced more by cultural and environmental factors than some inherited “special” ability. Support, encouragement and opportunities to sing and make music are the most important major proponents of successful musical development and enjoyment.

It behooves our society to accept all levels of accomplishment and ability. No one should feel excluded from singing because someone in their past deigned them unfit to do so.  Everyone has the right to the joy of singing!


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