Just got back from a House Jacks tour to 4 states, and we spend some time working with students, which I love.
However, it was an interaction with a teacher - a superintendent, in fact - that left the strongest impression on me.
After our show, he mentioned longingly how much he loves singing, how he used to sing with a couple people in a (shall remain unnamed) well-known professional group, and delivered a heavy sigh.
Then, when he heard how old I am (!), his daydreaming turned to remorse. I saw, in his eyes, that he realized he could still be singing. He should be singing.
So, it's this message I'm delivering to all of you. Don't be that guy!
Chances are, if you aren't currently singing, you're on your way:
You graduated from your college group a couple years ago, love a cappella, enjoy going to the occasional event, but just don't have time for a group? Wrong. You don't have time NOT to have a group. Are you kidding me? Wait 'til you're married and have kids. That's when you need an established group with which you can just show up and sing. You have all the time in the world right now, and you just don't realize it. Seriously. You'll look back in a decade or two and actually have trouble remembering what you did to fill up all that free time.
Maybe you're doing more than just attending concerts and occasionally browsing a cappella web sites. Maybe you arrange, hopefully for a living. Maybe you're recording groups, or editing files, hoping one day to be referred to in awe with just a few, power-packed letters, ala Hare/Boyer/Dio. In essence, you're hoping to spend your entire career listening to other people sing a cappella. And you aren't singing yourself?
Are you @(&*^#^@# crazy?!?!
This is a slow form of torture that will slowly make you extremely jaded, if not nuts. You might not miss it now, but you're still young. But boy, will you ever miss it.
Basketball commentators wish they could (still) play professionally. DJ's often wish they were rockers themselves. You're in one of the few fields where you can be involved as an active participant in a vital creative field until you're old and grey. No one is stopping you, except yourself. And why aren't you singing?
* "I'm too busy!" - That's a huge crock, and you know it. Do what you love, you'll find time to do it. Want something done, give it to a busy person.
* "I'll get around to it later" - Nope. You won't. If you've told yourself this for more than 3 months, I no longer believe you.
* "I'm waiting for a group to have an opening" - unless you sing bass, you're probably gonna keep waiting for a long, long time. Plus, if you're the kind of person that reads a blog on casa.org, you're the kind of person who should be starting his/her own group. You have the knowledge, you have the skill.
* "I only want to sing in a group that's incredibly, unbelievably amazing." - This makes me mad. It's personal mythology tightly wrapped in entitlement. You don't deserve to sing in a great group until you sing in a mediocre group. Or, perhaps, a bad group. You have to make mistakes, you have to learn what to do when the monitors are feeding back, or everyone is walking by on a Tuesday afternoon and you have to draw and hold a crowd. You know about 13th chords but you don't know how to look someone in the eye and sing to them. Too bad, there's no shortcut.
* "Being in a mediocre group will undermine my reputation." - Nope. Being in a group where you have to be on stage and you have to wrestle with performing yourself will make you a far better engineer/producer/arranger/coach. More insightful, more nuanced, more experienced.
* "I don't want to tell anyone, or have anyone find out, but I'm not so great." - Yet. You're not so great yet. Your voice will get stronger, your presence more dynamic. You'll find your niche. You'll start collecting songs you can sing very very well. You'll develop sounds and a style. It will happen, but not from watching YouTube clips.
* "I'm too old/too fat/too whatever" - Like that really matters. A cappella welcomes everyone. People love quality and heart. I could start naming names of people who do not fit the typical pop music mold, yet thrive in a cappella.
So, in a nutshell: Sing, Dammit!
You sang before. You loved it. It's why you do this. Music is in your heart. And right now you've decided to spend the rest of your life sitting back and watching other people, helping other people sing. No good. You want your best stories to be about what you did last week, last month. Not last year or last decade.
And if you're singing (good for you!) but know someone who isn't singing and should (which, of course, is everybody), email them this missive. Don't post it on their Facebook page, unless you're really trying to call them out and have already discussed this. People's egos are fragile, and in come cases tough love will backfire. But reach out to them nonetheless. Send them a heartfelt note letting them know you love their voice, you remember them singing X in college, and really think they should still be singing.
We need them. We need their voices. If we're going to spread harmony through harmony, we absolutely do not want to leave anyone on the bench. Including the coach.