by Guest Contributor: Robert Edwin

I am a singer. A huge percentage of my life is occupied by music. I sing. I compose songs to sing. I teach other people to sing. I write about singing in blogs and articles. My thoughts and emotions always seem to find their way into music. I sing when I’m happy. I sing when I’m miserable. I sing for joyful events such as weddings and I sing at events full of sorrow such as funerals. I even sing in my head without making a sound.

Now I need to sing in the middle of something that has grabbed the world by the throat and doesn’t seem to want to let go. Although my immediate family has been spared… so far, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has caused a catastrophic amount of pain, fear, suffering, and unimaginable sadness for millions of people. Maybe even you.

So I ask myself, how can I help? I’m not a nurse or a doctor. I’m not a scientist who can create a vaccine. I’m not a powerful world leader who can set responses into motion that can confront and defeat the virus. I’m a singer. It’s what I do best. So, my small contribution to this tragic mess we’re in is to offer some reasons why singing can help you in your life as you cope with your own pain, fear and sadness:

  • First of all, singing is something almost everybody can do. It’s not about quality. Singing runs the gamut from the person who was told she was the worst singer in the world to Broadway star and our fellow Harmony Helper friend, Rob McClure. Singing (without judgment) is a very doable activity.
  • It feels good to sing. Scientists tell us that singing is actually physically and mentally healthy for us. It lights up parts of the brain that bring us pleasure and a sense of wellness. No drugs necessary.
  • Singing is free. You just open your mouth and out it comes, no charge.
  • No special equipment is necessary. In sports, you usually need a ball or a puck or something. If you want to knit or crochet or paint, you have to buy supplies. If you want to play an instrument, you’ve got to get an instrument. With singing, you are the instrument, so you’ve already got what you need.
  • Singing has been with us since the beginning of human history. What’s in your throat is the world’s first instrument. Sing, and you’re doing what your great, great, great, great (you get the idea) grandparents did to express everything from great joy to deep sadness.
  • If you’ve got the blues, you can learn to “sing the blues.” It was developed largely by African Americans in the delta part of America, more specifically, around New Orleans. With the blues, you can create the words to fit how you feel at any given moment. If you need help writing your own song, go on YouTube for some guidance about blues and R & B (rhythm and blues).
  • Your song choices are almost unlimited. From classical opera to hip hop, there’s a song out there that can express exactly how you feel or how you want to feel. If you want to inspire yourself or others, sing the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, “Climb Every Mountain” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” or even that great song from Annie, “Tomorrow.” Not into Broadway? Try Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” or “Know Your Worth” from Khalid x Disclosure, or “Rise Up” from Andra Day. If you’re leaning more toward classical music, it’s tough to beat “Hallelujah,” the uplifting chorus from Handel’s The Messiah. Go find the songs that work for you.

So, here’s to all of us singing through the pandemic – Rob McClure in his shower (since he can’t be on Broadway right now starring in Mrs. Doubtfire) and you and I in our respective showers, shampoo bottle microphone in hand. Oh, and by the way, Harmony Helper is here ready, willing and able to help all of us to sing better and more accurately if we want to. If not, that’s OK, too. Just sing, and stay safe and well.

The good news is this pandemic will end someday. Singing, however, will go on for as long as there are people on this planet. That thought alone should bring us some comfort and hope in these troubled and dangerous times.

Yours in this together,