Singing With Others – The Key to a Long, Happy Life

1 Oct

Recently I caught an installment of “This I Believe” on the radio, and I discovered what experimental musician/producer Brian Eno holds to be his truth: that singing–especially singing with others–is the key to long and happy life. In his words:

Well, there are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don’t for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call “civilizational benefits.” When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because [group singing] is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings—to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

It’s no surprise that I agree! I also believe that singing (and music-making in general) is an essential part of life. What I especially appreciate in Brian Eno’s words is his focus on the power of making music together. I see it all the time in class–adults who never met before this semester share a laugh, a moment, an awareness of one another that they would not have discovered if their children had merely played together at the park. Music connects us in a way that other interactions simply cannot.

Eno declares that the world would be a better place if singing were included in the core of school curricula, and I heartily agree. But even if that were to happen, those of us over 18 would still have to find our own opportunities for group music-making. Thankfully, we sing together all the time in my house, and I know my children will do the same with their children, and so on. I hold the deep hope that families in my classes are doing the same–establishing a lifelong routine (and legacy) of singing together. If Brian Eno is right, we’ll all be smarter, healthier, and just plain happier for it.

To read the transcript of Brian Eno’s “This I Believe,” follow this link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97320958. And, don’t miss his paragraph that begins, “I believe that singing is the key…” Hot stuff!

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