Heartfelt singing

Sunday, May 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:22 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Everyone has something to say. We want to devote a space for you, the reader, to express your thoughts and emotions about more than just politics. In Muse, we want to give you a space to tell us what inspires you. For this week, we invited people to write about singing.

Appreciative audience

There is something about music that appeals both to our highest form of intellect and at the same time our most base emotions. And when something reaches out and grabs me like that, I have to participate. When I was 12, the boys choir I was in was invited to sing at the inauguration of the first President Bush. Luckily, there were 70 other members, and it probably took all of them to cover my warbling. And now that the mediocre soprano voice of my childhood has matured into the flat and off-key tenor of a man with no vocal talent, it has not slowed me down one bit. Anywhere, any time, any song, my complete lack of ability does not stop me from belting out just about any tune. I subscribe to the philosophy that enthusiasm and volume can make up for not being able to carry a tune or knowing the actual words.

My favorite place to sing is my car. I have somehow managed to convince myself that no one can see me as I croon along to almost anything that comes out of my radio. Strange looks from neighbors at stoplights over the years have not intruded on my own private concerts by me, for me, in the comforts of my own automobile. I may have peaked in my musical career very early, but the sheer joy I gain from singing will ensure that while my current audience may be small, it is very appreciative.

— Seth Howard, Columbia

Learning the hard way

I never sang when I was growing up or had the need to. There was always something inside me that knew if I did sing, bad things would happen. And I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Then, for some reason, I got involved in the theater when I was in the seventh grade. Someone asked me if I could sing. I didn’t know for sure, but I always shrugged and said “maybe.”

The theory went untested for years until I arrived at high school. When asked if I could sing and I said maybe, they wanted to find out. They handed me some music (which I couldn’t read) to a song I’d never heard of. Funny thing was, I wasn’t scared. I was usually pretty good at trying new things. Being very studious and a fast learner, I gripped the music tightly and thought, “Let’s wing it!”

I didn’t have the luxury of being alone when it happened. In fact, the entire cast of the school musical “Crazy for You” was present for my performance. I found out two things that night. I found out I sing flatter than a paved road in Kansas. But luckily, I also realized I was tone deaf. The more experienced singers must have thought it was the apocalypse.

Over time, I have gotten better through the painstaking assistance of multiple choir instructors. I’m still a bit embarrassed of my voice and I always question how in tune I am. Maybe one day I’ll have it all worked out and sing without a care in the world. Until then, for other’s safety, I refrain my singing to when no one’s in earshot.

— Michael Baxter, Columbia

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