Music is good therapy
Sun City, Calif.
Music is good therapy. If it hadn’t been for music and sports, I probably would have left high school, because the classes were boring and school didn’t provide much incentive. However, when I got involved with singing in the choir, things changed.
It wasn’t easy. I told the music teacher several times that I couldn’t sing. The reason was that my older brother was a good singer and I didn’t think I could ever be as good as him. However, the music teacher had an interesting recruitment technique. He sent two senior boys (football players) up to the study hall where I was at the time. They came down the aisle (one on each side), picked me up from my seat and physically carried me down to the music room, sat me down in the bass section, and told me to sing. I began to sing and eventually learned to read music.
Looking back, that is one of the best things that ever happened to me in high school. I went on to sing in college choirs, men’s choruses, glee clubs, barbershop quartets, lyric operas, musicals, and an international performing group. I got the opportunity to tour the East Coast, West Coast, and Mid-West, singing in such places as Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. I got to tour the Soviet Union in 1986 with the Alaska Performing Artists for Peace, a cultural exchange group. While in the Navy, I sang with the Bluejackets choir and traveled with them too.
I owe a great deal to my high school music teacher, who saw potential in me that I could not see in myself. Seeing potential in someone is a gift and few people have it. When I was in high school, we had a baseball pitcher who wanted to play on the town team when he graduated. The local coach told him he was not good enough to play on the town team, a town of about 5,000 people. He went into the Army and five years later was pitching in the world series for the New York Mets. So much for the local coach’s ability to see potential.
Now in my elder years, I am still singing with a group of my peers, in a church choir and a group called The Happy Harmoneers; it’s great therapy and a relief from getting bored. My wife says that I’m always happier when I’m singing, and I know that to be true. Singing lifts my Spirit, as does listening to a group of young people, singing their hearts out. Singing brings joy to my soul.
This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.