Thursday, January 08, 2009


Do you sing? Lots of people do, but I notice that many don't. Some people feel really awkward singing. Dancing is what makes me feel awkward. I'm clumsy and feel like I have two left feet.

But although I have a really ordinary voice, I've always enjoyed singing. When I got to high school, I was invited to join the Belmont High School Choral Group, which I thought was a great honour. I was a tenor for a brief time, but my voice deepened and I had to change to bass.

We used to sing a version of the well-known Bach choral from St Matthew Passion, which as a hymn is called O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded. But our version was called Commit Thy Way To Jesus.

And we sang what we called Negro Spirituals such as Who's That a-calling? and Standing in the Need of Prayer. I think we should call them African-American Spirituals currently, until the next name change...

In the 1960s, it seemed that every school had a choir and choral group, but few had bands. These days, lots of schools have stage bands and concert bands, but not so many have choirs.

Quite a few of my piano students over the 40 years I've been teaching piano have been shy about singing. They think that a musician is someone who presses keys, hits things or blows into metal or wood. But a singer, they think, is a person who hangs round with a bunch of musicians.

WRONG! That's a drummer! [Sorry Pete...]

I think everyone should learn to sing for these reasons:
1. Sing to praise the God who made you for the wonderful world he has given us and especially for sending his Son Jesus to die for our sins.
2. Learn to sing so you can sing to your children and grandchildren.
3. If you learn to use your very first instrument [your own body and especially your voice], playing another instrument will come more easily and you will play it more musically if you play what you are singing in your head.

You are a really terrific portable musical instrument that doesn't need to be plugged in and won't run out of batteries for ages, we hope.

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