After a couple of years away, I've started singing again with the Olio Glee Club (formerly known as the Prelude Glee Club). This is the perfect choir for me: no audition was required; the music is challenging but not impossible for me to sing; and our practice space is close to home.
Glee, but watching and listening to other people sing, even though they are WAY better at it than I am, is just not as satisfying as taking a deep breath and going for it myself. I think we lost something important when we stopped making our own music and just let ourselves be entertained by professionals. Radio, TV, concerts, sound systems and iPods are great, but if they are the only ways we get music, we miss out on the benefits of participating.
Consider, for example, the health benefits. Singing is all about using breath to create sound. To do that well, we have to empty our lungs and take in the deepest breath possible - over and over. I figure that I take in more oxygen in a two hour practice session with the glee club than I do in two days of ordinary, sitting-in-front-of-the-computer, shallow breathing. This deep breathing boosts metabolism, improves heart and lung function, relieves tension and gives me a wonderful sense of well being.
Singing in a choir has another benefit - it creates a community. We are a small group working together to achieve something: learning a piece of music, blending our voices to create harmony, preparing for a performance. It gives us a shared sense of accomplishment. It is fun. It gives us something to look forward to. It is an antidote for loneliness.
This month we will be practicing Christmas carols to get ready for the 24th Annual Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition, which will be held downtown Seattle on "Figgy Friday," December 3rd. This competition raises funds to benefit the Pike Place Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank. We will be one of over 40 singing groups taking to the street corners that night to entertain and help our neighbors.
Here's a video from a group called "The Beaconettes" (our neighbors to the east on Beacon Hill) singing in a past Figgy Pudding competition. They've altered the lyrics of a well-known carol to acknowledge yet another great Seattle tradition: the naked bicyclists who show up each year at the Fremont Solstice Parade.