Why singing is getting a bad rap these days.
As churches, synagogues, mosques re-open, current directives are sayiing “No” to congregational or choral singing. Why? In short: “Have spit. Will travel.”
It’s true. Singers do spit, and the louder they speak and sing, the more “aerosol” they spew forth and at greater distances of 6-8 feet.
So I wanted to clear a few things up here.
No one is saying that SOLO or PRIVATE singing is risky or harmful. It’s the CONGREGATIONAL and CHOIR singing that has had a bad track record during this pandemic. It’s also knowing how far your spit or “aerosol” will travel when singing.
The CDC guidelines are based on the example of a choir in Washington in which one infected singer infected 87% of the group, resulting in two deaths.
CHOIRS AND MUSICALS
Having been in choral organizations and many musicals throughout my lifetime, I know that when one person takes ill, the entire cast or chorus can come down with it by the next rehearsal.
When I toured with the USO on the state side or our schedule, we were traveling up the East Coast, 50 people sardined on a tour bus. On the way to our host’s home, my roommate and I got violently nauseated and spent the night with little sleep. The next morning, we arrived at the bus, dressed in our PJs. We were surprised to to discover that the entire group had taken ill. When we arrived at our next destination, we were held in quarantine in a large chapel, all lying on the floor, far apart from each other.
Believe it or not, the show was not canceled. So as one performer ran off the stage to barf, the others went on to sing and dance as if nothing had happened. The entire night. Unforgettable.
We know performing on stage is ripe for contagion. This is why opera singers and Broadway performers walk around with their necks and noses wrapped in mufflers even when it’s not freezing cold. We are a paranoid group because we have all experienced the panic and helplessness of having to sing with laryngitis when there is no understudy.
I was in the audience when Bernadette Peters walked on stage with a Kleenex during a performance of Sunday in the Park. She blew her nose in front of the audience, but most especially right in front of Mandy Patinkin. I can only visualize all those particles of airdrops and aerosol sprayed all over him.
So here we are in a pandemic and I’m making the case for singing. Please note: I’M NOT REFERRING TO CHORAL OR CONGREGATIONAL SINGING.
I’m talking PRIVATE – SOLO SINGING LESSONS.
Summer’s right around the corner. It’s going to be a BIG ONE because we can’t do all the social gathering as entertainers or parents of the next generation of super stars.
So NOW we have time to focus on the TRAINING.
TRAINING ONLINE OR ONSITE
This solo singing training can be had safely by Zoom, FaceTime or safely onsite, under recommended guidelines.
Once you identify your trust and comfort levels on the method of delivery, you can use this valuable time to your best benefit to improve your singing.
HOW SINGING CAN PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN YOU DURING THE PANDEMIC
After the bad rap singing is getting, this may surprise you, but singing is a healthy activity with positive effects on the physical, psychological, emotional, mental, and social aspects of our lives.
While there are many research papers published, this article is an excellent summary.
Because of the COVID pandemic, I’d like to highlight a few benefits that apply.
A recent COVID study has shown that singing improves the quality of breathing for those who suffer respiratory disease.
It boosts the immune system, which is huge especially with the pandemic.
It encourages good posture which in turn produced good, deep breathing, expanding lung capacity.
It feeds higher levels of oxygen into the body, excellent for cardio-thoracic health. Singers sleep better by reducing apnea, and it clears sinuses and bronchial tubes.
Singing is sometimes just as good as getting a workout at the gym. The body is interconnected and every muscle engages in order to produce the tone, pitch, or volume.
The psychological and emotional benefits are enormous. Studies show that singing is an excellent anti-depressant and stress-reducer. It activates endorphins, even stimulating oxytocin, controlling cortisol levels.
SINGING LESSONS OR PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Think about it this way: the cost of a one hour voice lesson is far less expensive than a one hour visit with a psychiatrist. With the psychiatrist, you may or may not go home with endorphins giving you that feel-good, calm feeling. With singing, you do.
OTHER AMAZING BENEFITS OF SINGING
Singing has long been known to help dementia and memory as well. Socially, singing can improve confidence and improve communication skills. The exercised used for the face and mouth also tone those muscles and the neck, giving a more youthful look.
Speaking of youthful, singers can maintain a youthful voice and avoid that aging tone if they continue to exercise their singing voice into their 70s and 80s.
As a professional singer-actor for most of my adult life, I can testify to these benefits. I look back and realize that from the time I went to my first private voice lesson at age 15, and all the years I studied with different teachers after that, never once did I leave feeling depressed.
Just the opposite. I may have arrived feeling discouraged but I left feeling upbeat and energized.
TURN IT AROUND. SUMMER IS NOT CANCELED.
If you or your family or friends have found the shelter-in-place and quarantine to have not only become old, but more recently harmful to emotional and physical health, this is a great opportunity to take action to turn that around.
Summer is NOT canceled. I’m super excited to help you with and help set your goals, from professional to recreational. Let’s conquer the COVID together. We got this.
Click here to learn more about my summer voice coaching-lesson plans. If there’s not one right for you, we can work together to customize it exactly as you would like.
PS. A good word about CHOIRS and CONGREGATIONAL SINGING. It will be back, and I hope sooner than later. So much research has gone into the phenomenon of singing and how it positively impacts us.
The one benefit I did not list above is this: CHORAL/GROUP SINGING changes us. It changes our hearts. The hormones released from singing bond us, they give us a feeling of being TOGETHER. Singing is powerful. Use it wisely.