Sing anyway! Even if it has to be online for now.
We are still singing.
We are singing to find balance with hope, joy, and the hard edges of life.
As a songleader, I’m falling in love with online singing and the concept of “singing anyway.”
I’m remembering back to earlier this year when I was talking with a colleague about my aspirations for starting an online singing group. I love singing in person and the connection and community it creates. I was also feeling that I wanted to serve the huge numbers of people who, due to some kind of barrier, might not ever come through the door of a community singing event.
I wanted to explore online singing because I had just spent the better part of two years in pain due to a hip injury. I lived with a lot of pain and I still have a felt sense of the raw effort it took to get out and do anything at all. I let go of so many things during that time, but I never let go of singing. I sang anyway. I went to my beloved acapella rehearsals each week despite the pain, because I knew how much better I would feel afterward. I made the effort because I already knew how singing transmuted pain. I already knew the bliss of harmony and the joy of singing with others. It became the one thing that I could do without pain and one of the only times in my week that I wasn’t engulfed by some strategy to get through the day.
I was fortunate to know the benefits of singing. There are so many who aren’t pre-conditioned to know how singing can feel, especially singing in a connected community. I wanted to reach those people specifically. I wanted to go beyond the in-person singing and bring it to everyone with an internet connection. Location, mobility, life circumstance…I felt the barriers could be erased if I could only find a way. I was surprised no one had thought it it yet. Ha! I was naive. Turns out others had explored virtual venues, and let’s just say we all agreed it didn’t work that well.
I persevered. I enlisted several friends and colleagues to give it a try with me over Zoom. We played with echos, delays, and inconsistent sound. We laughed a lot and felt the excruciating dissonance of trying to harmonize online. We all firmly decided it didn’t work. I could maybe teach one way songs over videoconference but the group mode simply wasn’t built for success. I let go of the online singing aspirations and decided to put all my energy into developing an in-person singing experience and maybe sharing a few simple songs in a video format.
Fast forward a few months and virtual singing is all we have right now.
It’s still not the same as singing in person. The barriers are all still there. The sound quality and delays are annoying. Having everyone muted except the songleader is weird and a little exhausting. The glitches with movement and sound can make it feel a little disconnected.
But it’s working!
We are singing together!
Thousands of people around the world are singing together online. We are forming communities, or sustaining existing ones, and making our way within a medium that is less than perfect for singing. But what I’m coming to realize, as shared by one of my songleading mentors, Lisa Littlebird, “It’s only imperfect if we compare it to singing in person.”
It will never be the same as singing in person.
But if we compare singing online to not singing? I choose singing.
I will sing anyway. And I will lead singing anyway.
I had committed in October of last year to make songleading a part of my life and career.
I made the decision to share singing, even though it seemed like an unusual modality to add to my coaching practice, because I had never felt more alive and on purpose than when leading songs.
I’m still committed and I find it more than a little ironic that my original plan of singing online is now my only option for now. I’m learning to fall in love with this new venue and finding some unexpected gems.
I love that online singing accentuates the simple.
I treasure that we are singing short and easy to learn songs with uplifting lyrics that are an affirmation to life.
I might have thought them too simple in the past, but these little doses of musical medicine seem to slip by the anxiety/fear center and make their way in as a soothing and refreshing balm to the uncertainty of our days.
I am deeply touched by the fact that people are singing who wouldn’t have considered coming in person. They blissfully sing along while muted and are moving past years of not sharing their voice for fear of “not being a good singer”. All those people who felt they couldn’t sing can now sing in community without fear.
I’m learning that singing online does work.
It works differently.
It’s a little dose of joy and connection.
It’s musical inspiration that ripples out into the week.
Online singing is about singing anyway. Singing when it’s not perfect. Singing when we are in pain. Singing when we feel alone. Singing when we are uncertain or afraid. Singing when we can’t get out to sing.
I’m all in for online singing. For today, while it’s the only option, and for the future when it will remain the only option for some.
Want to “sing anyway” with me?
Find out more here about online singing each Sunday in May, 6:30pm PT, and connect for upcoming singing opportunities: https://www.tunetojoy.com/singing-and-songleading.html
Carole Marie Downing - songleader and coach. Sparking joy, creating connection and inspiring resilience through words and song.