Is it the person you’ve known since you were a 5 year old kid running round your yard, playing catch? Is it the one person you know you can call to pick your kids up from school when you get a flat tire on your way home from work? Maybe it’s your college buddies, friendships cemented by exam stress and embarrassing stories from your youth.

I used to think that true friendships were formed over time — that it would take years of shared laughter and tears, chats over coffee and cake, or putting the world to rights over a glass of wine.

Now I’m not so sure.

Last summer I had the joy of experiencing Circle Singing. Bobby McFerrin and I were there along with the other participants — all strangers. We didn’t know each other, we had no shared experiences to fall back on and yet, I began to feel love towards them. I began to feel as if I knew them. By simply singing together, by being vulnerable together, it felt as if our hearts had opened and we’d let each other in. We didn’t know each others’ stories but it didn’t matter. We shared tears without even having exchanged a single word! I was blown away by the love I felt for these “strangers”.

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Yet calling them “strangers” doesn’t feel right. By sharing that wonderful experience, by harmonizing together, we had formed a bond of friendship. And now that I think about it, I see the same thing happening to everyone who joins us at Sing Portland!

When you walk through the door for the first time there’s a real kick as you realize, “Wow, I’m harmonizing with strangers”. It’s amazing how the experience of singing together shifts people out of the “strangers” category, and into something else. It’s not long before you find yourself thinking, “I really like these people”!

Love comes from creating beauty with strangers.

And it all comes back to the music. Of course we have a 15 minute intermission during rehearsal time, to give everyone a break and let them socialize but that’s not a whole lot of time to get to know your fellow singers. Yet friendships are being made. Week in, week out, I see the bond between the singers grow and turn into something deeper.

By standing together, hearts open, perhaps singing in different sections, yet seeing each others’ expressions and hearing each others’ notes dance into joyful music, relationships are formed.

Through song, we share laughter, we share tears, but also sharing our dreams, hopes, possibilities visions through the lyrics we sing.

It’s a wondrous thing and I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of it.

If you’d like to come along and experience this for yourself at Sing Portland!, we’d love to welcome you.