Margaret's Musings: Singing - using your built-in musical instrumentAhhhh!!! It is the time of year when I am privileged to witness, what I have come to think of as the great equalizer, the human voice in song.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
Ahhhh!!! It is the time of year when I am privileged to witness, what I have come to think of as the great equalizer, the human voice in song. It has been decades since I joined others in song, having been an active member of the choir program in high school. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to recognize that much of the same appeal applies to today’s youth.
There is something magical, wondrous and, some claim, healing about song.
Granted there are a few who were not born to sing, but for a vast majority of human kind, one of the smallest, cheapest and easiest instruments we can learn to play, resides within us.
According to the editors of Scientific American, ‘although the human vocal system is small, it manages to create sounds as varied and beautiful as those produced by a variety of musical instruments.’
Take that ability and combine it in a mass choir and the results can be overwhelming and uplifting. How many of you have left a vocal concert with a bit more spring in your step, looking up, not down and perhaps smiling or humming as you go? Surely I am not the only one to feel enlivened having heard and witnessed the results of hours of practice and teamwork, combined to create music that can bring joy and tears simultaneously.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Where words fail, music speaks,’” said Hudson High Choral Director Kari Heisler, whose dad used to wake her up by singing. Heisler and Andy Haase have teamed up to offer Hudson High School students a vocal musical education that few will have a chance to enjoy again. With 300 students from grades 9 through 12 participating in the program and practically everyone of them singing in the Home for the Holidays concert, there can be no doubt about the equalizing factor. That factor is probably even stronger when it comes to putting on the fall musical.
“They all bond over that connection,” said Heisler. “It doesn’t matter what sport they play or what clique they are in they can find common ground in music.”
That is one of the things I do remember from high school, we all sang out, from the average Joe to the basketball star. Once you entered the choir room, the rest of the world was left outside. We were there to make music and do it together. Granted our musical director was not young but she was effective and demanding; we gave her results as a group and enjoyed it.
Another perspective comes from Hudson resident Alice Urban who sang in the Chicago Children’s Choir, from third through eighth-grade.
“It was all about diversity,” said Urban. “It always has been.” The Chicago Children’s Choir remains today and continues to provide children of all cultures and economic means a chance to experience music. “There is something primal about people singing,” said Urban. “It brings people together for a greater good, creating something together.”
Urban’s son John participated in the Hudson High School Choral program, as well as band.
“It is amazing to see the results when all the support works together,” said Urban, of the time and money which come from the school district, community and parents.
Feeding the vocal music program at the Hudson High School is the music program at the Hudson Middle School, which includes, chorus, band and orchestra. This school year there are 300 students in three elective choirs at the Hudson Middle School.
“I wanted to show the town that music doesn’t have to die off after fifth grade,” said Carol Dahle, who has directed the middle school choral program.
“There is a place for every child,” said Dahle. “They may discover band or orchestra along with vocal music. To my knowledge there has never been a child, kindergarten through 12th grade who’s been turned away if they wanted to sing.”
“They learn life skills in choir,” said Dahle. “Discipline, social interaction in large group settings, concert etiquette and they learn what is expected from the audience.”
“What Andy Haase is doing with the holiday concert, having the orchestra play with the students, it is fabulous. They may never have that opportunity again,” said Dahle. “It can be life changing.”
“I feel song is the instrument of people’s souls, my students also learn new languages as they sing songs from other countries,” said Dahle. “It all makes the world smaller.”
Last summer when, Andy Haase, director of choral activities at Hudson High School, called for volunteers to participate in a community choir over 130 people from age 15 to 80 responded.
“What it boils down to is for the voice to be a life-long instrument,” said Dahle.
I couldn’t agree more. So as we enter the New Year, try singing along with the radio, in the shower, in your church choir, anywhere you want. You might be surprised how it affects you.
If you would rather enjoy the song of others, don’t hesitate to attend any one of the area concerts in Hudson area schools. Some will find you walking out in complete amazement as to how such incredible music can be created by students.
Others such as the St. Patrick School musical, that I attended recently, will give you hope for the future as the youngest students, sang, danced and starred in a complex presentation.
So Happy New Year everyone. Aren’t glad I didn’t write about dieting and resolutions? Give singing a chance.