How Singing Creates Community
A few weekends ago I led a full-day singing retreat. A participant commented about how much better we each sounded as individuals, when we were singing together. She noticed that the sheer act of putting our voices together elevated the quality of the sounds coming out of our mouths.
Why Do Our Voices Support Each Other?
When you’re singing on your own, nerves and self-conscious thoughts creep in and hinder your ability to hit a note. When you’re singing on your own, especially with other people listening, this anxiety can make it really hard to focus, and even to hear. Have you had this experience? Even someone who is comfortable with singing (like me) experiences this sometimes (I do). If you have problems with singing in tune, and especially if you know this is hard for you, the anxiety can be overwhelming and prevent you from singing as well as you could if you weren’t anxious.
Like the Dotted Lines on the Highway…
…Singing simultaneously with others can help you stay on the road. If you’re relaxed and not feeling on the spot, the input of other voices can really help you to stay in tune. In the world of drumming and rhythm this is called entrainment. We humans are sensitive to each other’s nuances and there is a natural, subconscious urge to “match up.”
When one person in a room starts tapping out a rhythm to a steady beat, the rest of the people in the room usually find the beat and tap along, without even trying: entrainment. I just heard a talk on the radio that talked about the contagious nature of laughter: entrainment. Often if I sing a note and hold it for a while, the whole group, whether they’re “non-singers” or not, will join me in singing that exact same note.
So it’s easier to sing in tune when you’re singing with a group.
Permission to be Expressive
When you’re in a comfortable, non-judgmental group, you naturally feed off the energy of others. It’s not only easier to sing those notes accurately. It’s also easier, and fun, to sing more expressively and infuse more feeling and meaning into the song you’re singing.
As a supportive group, we are more than the sum of the parts, we are lifted to a higher level, we’re truly feeling the groove, and we sound awesome!
Creating Community through Singing
This is why and how singing builds community. Whether it’s in school, at church or other places of worship, during an army drill practice, or around the campfire, singing together works its magic. This is also why singing and making music works so well as a team building activity. We can make music by singing alone, but when you add instruments and other voices, the result has more feeling and a bigger impact. Everyone is doing their part to contribute to the whole. Even in a group of “non-singers” and beginners, singing creates community.
I’ve created the Fearless Singers Facebook Group! Join this upbeat community of beginning singers. I’ll post singing tips, updates on my upcoming workshops and more-all in support of your singing journey!