“Too late to start this now.”
That’s what I heard over and over again when, at 31, I picked up a cello for the first time and decided to learn how to play. I started teaching a year later, and have now taught for 20 years.
“Oh, that’s certainly too late.”
That’s what a lot of people thought when I started learning African drumming at age 35. I went on to play in an African percussion band for two years, and have taught djembe for another 10.
“It’s way too late in life for you to even think about this!”
So I heard when I decided to adopt two children at age 46. Six years later, I still consider it to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
“OK, c’mon, definitely too late.”
That’s what the little voice in the back of my head said when I decided to attend my first choral training at age 47. A year later, I launched Sing Portland! and it’s been an amazing ride ever since.
It’s never too late. Not for doing the things that expand you, revive you, help you remember who you truly are — and this definitely includes singing!
A lot of times, I’ll get someone poking their head in the door about halfway through a term, cringing because they think they’ve arrived “too late”, asking apologetically if there’s any way they could still join in. My answer is always the same: “Of course you can!”
There is no expiration date on singing.
It’s never, ever too late to sing, and I reinforce that message whenever and wherever I can, from welcoming a singer into rehearsals just a week or two before a performance to giving my standard answer to the all-too-common “But surely you don’t want me in your choir, do you?” (Hint: I really, really do!)
So many people have gotten the idea that singing is something formal, a skill you have to put into a tiny, rigid box of disciplined practice to learn. And sure, you want to become the diva in an opera company? You’re going to need some training. But you never need training simply to sing — it’s such a core part of our humanity; saying that you need to learn how to sing is like saying you need to learn how to breathe!
That’s why I always throw my full support behind every single person who shows up to sing at Sing Portland!, no matter what.
If someone shows up three weeks before a concert and is eager to be part of the performance, but worry that they might be a little too late for this round, they’re quickly set straight. That’s why we have practice tracks online; just study those and you’ll be able to jump right in. I would never dream of stopping that kind of enthusiasm, or putting pressure to perform (or not perform) onto anyone who wants to sing. And the same goes the other way. If someone joins and doesn’t feel ready to perform, there’s no pressure to do so. It’s all about following your relationship with music, whatever that looks like at any given time.
I’ll say it again: it is never, ever too late to follow your heart.
I could go on about this forever — but I’ll leave you with one last illustration that I hope you’ll remember whenever you start feeling like maybe it’s too late to do something you really want to do.
My grandmother bought a grand piano the year she turned 80. Her best friend told her she was crazy. Why go to all that trouble when she might die in two weeks? Surely it was too late for this kind of nonsense, right?
My grandmother replied, “If I die, I die. And I’ll have enjoyed having this beautiful grand piano for two weeks.”
She would go on to play and teach with that piano for another eight years … and my sister went on to enjoy that piano for another 30 years!
So whatever your thing is — whether it’s learning a new skill, getting that gorgeous piano, or rediscovering the joy of your very own voice — do it.
If that thing happens to be singing with us, fantastic! Come join us for a rehearsal at any time. We can’t wait to sing with you!