Let me tell you a secret — a story that few people know about me.
I’m 14 years old, and full of the joy of music and the potential of life, so much so that I tell my father that I’m going to study music.
“You’re not good enough.”
That was his instant reply. That I wasn’t good enough, that I’d never be good enough, and besides, even if I was, I would never make a decent living as a musician. Crushed, I went to cry on my mom’s shoulder, expecting her to comfort me. After all, her mother had been my piano teacher since I was five, so clearly she would be on board with my dream of studying music!
“Better keep it as a hobby,” was her reply.
The message was clear: trash that idea, think of something else. Grow up, find something real to throw yourself into, forget these childish dreams of music.
And so I did. (At least for a while.)
But no matter how many detours I took into business, advertising, business development in the third world, education, music kept coming back to me. Eventually, I just couldn’t resist my desire to make a living with music anymore, so I became a music therapist. Now I’ve created Sing Portland!, where I sing together with others who have been told again and again that they’re just not good enough … just like I was.
That’s how I know that you are good enough. No matter who told you otherwise. Even if you think you can’t hold a tune in a bathtub! (Yes, really.)
I’ve seen it again and again, adults telling children that they can’t sing well, or that they’re out of tune, or that they should just mouth the words at the concert. That music is only good for a hobby, that they’re just not good enough.
The truth is, every human is musical.
We’re made of the same stuff the stars are, we have the harmony of the spheres built into the very core of our beings. Still, the most common reaction I get when I invite people to join Sing Portland! is “Oh no, you don’t want me in your choir.” People convince themselves that there’s no way their voice could be welcome, that they could actually be a crucial part of a choir.
But it’s true — everyone is welcome at Sing Portland!, and every single member is just as important, valued, and needed as the next.
OK, but maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the exception. To which I say, get this:
We’ve had singers in Sing Portland who are practically deaf. Singers with cancer. Singers who are grieving miscarriages, and are not about to give me that flutey, “perfect”, happy voice. Singers with depression, who find some desperately needed relief, if only for two hours a week. Singers who have never sung a note in their lives before stepping in my door. Singers who are burnt out on choir after singing the same boring songs over and over and over again for years. People who have been told that they’re “not singers”, only to realize that they really, really are.
I love how diverse our group is, how it really reflects the beliefs I’ve built that into Sing Portland’s DNA, from our sliding payment scale and tuition-trade agreements to the types of songs we sing.
As I’ve said before, I truly believe that if you can talk, then you can sing — and I’m willing to prove it to you.
So if you’ve been thinking that you’re not a singer, or that I couldn’t possibly want you in Sing Portland!, or you’re the one exception to the rule, the single totally unmusical human in the world … just give us a try. I’m sure you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.