How Can I Keep From Singing?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

I’m average.

I’m a regular mom, not a Supermom. I write and sing and play the flute, but I don’t stand out above the crowd. I’m not bad at these things, I’m just…average (except in height; there I’m below average). I get the job done—and I enjoy doing it—but I don’t have anything in particular to crow about.

Which leads me to wonder: Why do I blog?

If I’ve got nothing of any particular import to share, no particularly wise or motivational words, no amazing stories about the year during which my family produced zero waste or the epic birthday cake I decorated for my kid’s fourth birthday party, why bother posting?

Why do I show up at the keyboard nearly every day and send open letters to the internet declaring myself to be average?

This past Sunday, Kathleen Howland, professor of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston, led a lay service for our congregation entitled, “The Transformative Power of Music in Society.”

In her service, Dr. Howland spoke about the many ways in which music has helped—and is helping—to combat poverty, trauma, tyranny, and war throughout the world. She highlighted programs like El Sistema in Venezuela, and The Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay, which bring music education to children living in poverty, and a program in Kenya to help former child soldiers heal through song.

In addition, she read David McPhail’s Mole Music, in which a mole works for years and years improving his violin playing. He never plays outside his den, but his music floats to the land above, and promotes peace and growth in all living beings in the vicinity. Just by playing music for himself, the mole changes the world.

Less than a year ago, at the encouragement of a dear man who has since passed away, I joined our church choir. I’d never sung in a choir before, but with this man’s encouragement, I took the chance, and it has paid off. I’ve always enjoyed singing, but being in the choir increases that joy exponentially. Wanting to go even deeper, I started taking voice lessons. Through my daily practice, I hear both my voice and my confidence growing stronger.

And something odd has happened lately: I sing my practice songs and think how I’d like to sing these songs for other people, not just for myself and my family as they’re drifting off to sleep.

I don’t really understand why I want to sing for other people. When I fantasize about singing a solo in front of a group, I don’t imagine large crowds or bouquets of flowers or my name in lights. No American Idol for me. I just imagine me and a pianist and the presence of other people who have gathered to share the joy I feel when I sing.

This, I think, is also why I blog. Writing and singing are both things that I love and fear. They’re both ways for me to loose my voice in the world, to be here and to celebrate both the turmoil and the treasures of life.

Writing and singing bring me peace and joy, and for whatever reason, I want to share that.

Whether anyone’s listening or not.

“Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!”

-“My Life Flows on in Endless Song,” by Robert Lowry (as printed in Singing the Living Tradition)

7 Replies to “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

  1. And that’s enough really. Artistic expression doesn’t need to be about everything it’s come to be about for so many people; money, fame, adoration, recognition. It’s about personal expression and sharing something beautiful with the world. Right on! This post really resonated with me!


  2. My secret dream (that I’m only sharing with you, so shhh), is to get the nerve to sing karaoke. Okay, that’s not much of an aspiration, I realize, but I’d still like to go belt out some great ballad to an audience and not just to my dashboard.


  3. This is so real. I feel like everybody feels that way; like they’re good at a lot of things but not great at anything. It takes a lot of trust to put something out there that you don’t think is GREAT, but if it’s for you – if it’s what makes you you, and what makes you feel alive – then it doesn’t matter. It’s great if it makes you great 🙂


  4. Music is the one thing in the world that makes the most sense to me. Love hearing about these programs that bring it to people who need it the most.


  5. HI! I’m so far a lurker over at the yeah write and stumbled upon your blog. Love the idea behind it. (seems similar to mine) and I can TOTALLY relate on the writing end of things. Sometimes after I’ve spent hours writing, sharing, tweeting, and trying to promote my blog, I let those ideas of self-doubt creep in and think to myself, “I’m not an expert on ANYTHING. Why does anyone want to read this?” But, the truth is, I think other people like me want to read it because we are just average too. And, what you write will resonate with other people….even if you think it is just average. Going to follow you now! 🙂


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