If there’s a better feeling in the world than belting out a tune at the top of your voice, I don’t know what it is!

Whether you’ve had a bad day and want to release some pent up stress or whether you’ve had an amazing day and you’re feeling like you could take on the world, singing loudly just feels…great. It’s freeing, it’s invigorating, it’s therapeutic. It’s just wonderful.

I love hearing it and I love the energy it brings to a room. Which is why what I’m about to say pains me just a teensy bit:

Sometimes we just gotta rein it in!

It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I remember a few years ago I was taking part in a workshop. I thought I was one of the stronger singers there so I dusted off my halo and decided to sing a little louder in an attempt to help out those participants that felt a bit unsure, or a bit less confident.

All was going well (so I thought!) until Ysaye Barnwell asked us to stand in front of the person who supports you when you sing. Do you know how many people stood in front of me? Two! Just two! I was baffled for a second, and then came my inevitable conclusion…

Savior complex is overrated!

You see, you may feel like you can support a full section just by singing a little louder. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious you may feel like you can support the entire choir. But it’s always an illusion. At best you can only ever help your immediate neighbors.

It was an eye-opener for me — and a valuable lesson that I’d love to pass on to you too.

Because whatever your motivation for singing that little bit louder than everyone else — whether you’re playing the white knight (like me during that workshop!), adjusting to a new choir, or just feeling the need to let off some steam — it isn’t always the most helpful way to participate in choir.

The beauty of blending.

Of course there may be times that a choir needs a louder voice; if you’ve been introduced to a new song it can be helpful to have someone who’s already familiar with it singing a bit louder to help everyone else follow the melody. And if you’ve been given a solo, then by all means, go for it.

But, generally, when it comes to choir, true beauty lies in the blending.

Yes, some of you will have better, stronger, more confident voices than others, but no one person is any more or less deserving of their space in the room. And it’s not a competition! 

When you all come together, as a team, and sing in harmony, there’s nothing more beautiful — your audience will be fully immersed in the music without the distraction of individual voices, your fellow singers will find their own pitch and tone more easily, and you’ll do the piece of music the justice it deserves.

So, the next time you’re singing with your friends in choir, it’s worth taking a moment to ask yourself whether you can hear your neighbors. If you can’t, you’re singing just a teensy tiny bit too loudly. And if you’re reading this and worrying that you’ve been a bit too…enthusiastic…in the past — don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone! Getting used to blending in can be a real learning curve.

But once you’ve mastered it, your reward is the pure joy that comes from singing in perfect harmony with the rest of the choir. Because when you all come together as a community, and sing as one, you ALL shine even more brightly. It’s a glorious thing!

Could you use a little more music in your life? I’d love for you to join me at any of the three choirs Sing Portland! has available for you –– Sing Portland!, Pop PDX, or Vocal Improv