Writing this article feels a bit like the time I was in third grade and I got some writing assignment where I had to talk about myself, and all I wanted to do was go outside and play and forget the assignment. I have grown up since then (but not much), and while I am now able to sit still and write for a least two minutes, I still hesitate when it comes to discussing myself (mostly because I risk spilling personal information that could be used against me.) I feel as though I’m expected to conjure up some lofty sentiments about how music lifts my spirits (which it does), or how it has helped me overcome some of life’s greatest struggles. However, I prefer to take a more practical approach to discussing why I like to sing and how singing effects me on a day to day basis (I’m just a practical kind of guy.) Like most singers I was exposed to the art from a very young age, and I have my mother to thank for that. She was the primary chorister at church for many years, and she occasionally organized musical numbers with youth, and I often participated. As I came into my teenage years I recognized the appeal of singing harmonies in groups. It was my life’s ambition to sing with the Taylorsville High madrigals under Norm Wendel (until I graduated, then I had to find another life ambition.) One thing I soon realized in my youth was that not everyone could sing. I recall hearing kids singing and they couldn’t find the pitch and I thought “what is wrong with this kid!? Is he deaf?” Realizing that I had a gift that many did not brings me to the first reason why I sing, and yes, it’s a selfish reason: It made me feel special. Whenever I sing for people they always say the nicest things to me, and, let’s face it, I’m an attention junkie, and sometimes I’ll do anything to get my fix.
Anyone who asks me what I do for a living finds out that I’m a chemical engineer. Whenever someone asks me what I do all day with that, I hesitate as to what I should say for fear that the action-packed, heart-stopping details of my occupation will put them into a coma from which they will not want to wake up. Needless to say, a lot of what I do involves a heavy dose of math. I will give you a small taste: Today I was reading on the topic of differential geometry (I know, a topic dear to all of our hearts), and I came across the following expression:
This, my friends, is called a matrix. This particular matrix can give you important information about geometric surfaces (or shapes) in a 3-dimensional space. I know, you want to hear more. The point I’m getting to is that math can be useful and even somewhat aesthetically pleasing in its forms and patterns, and there are people who find meaning to their lives entirely from their fascination with mathematics. I am not one of these people, and after spending a work day staring at math expressions like the matrix above my soul needs a different outlet. Math allows me to describe things physical, but when I’m grappling with things emotional or spiritual, music and singing do a much better job. Okay maybe that reason was more lofty than practical, but it was practical in a lofty kind of way.
In the end there are many practical reasons why I choose to sing. So why do I do it? Because I can, and it makes me feel human (that’s a good feeling.) Why do I sing in the shower? Because I feel like death in the morning and it’s a great way to wake myself up (I can’t use coffee after all.) Why do I sing in the car? Because it’s preferable to shouting, cussing, and swearing at other drivers (not that I don’t enjoy that too.) Why do I sing high? Because all men are blessed with a head voice and such a thing should be developed and used. The fact that it annoys the altos in the choir is just a bonus.