I know that every one of us has had the experience of dragging ourselves through a cold/dark/miserable night to a choir practice we’re going to only out of a sense of duty.
At one time or another, each of us has walked into rehearsal enveloped in a large black cloud of anxiety, grief or just grumpiness – and somehow, and some time before the end of the evening have been transformed back to our cheerful alter ego.
I don’t know for sure why this happens, but I have some theories.
Interaction with other humans – especially those who are glad to see you is good for us. Perhaps they’re merely a distraction, or perhaps it’s also because some of the more tuned in ones will see the look on your face and spontaneously hug you – often without you even having to tell them what’s wrong.
Maybe I’ve been especially fortunate, but humour has always been present in my 47 or so years of experience of choral life.
There’s something very powerful and healing about the physical act of singing – especially with a group of people. Every major religion has group singing, or chanting as part of its tradition. This can’t be a coincidence – it just makes us all feel better.
Then of course there’s the Zen of music. You really can’t make wonderful music unless every part of you is completely involved moment by moment by moment in its creation. Spiritual masters have been telling us this for thousands of years – that the Now is the only reality, and that trying to live in the past or future is what brings us suffering. So when we’re crafting a perfect phrase, or singing flat out – straight from the heart, now is all that matters.
And that makes us wake up and feel alive.