If you think about it, how much do most people care about singing? In comparison to football, say, or any other sport — golf, tennis, baseball, even soccer, singing pales. I often wonder if vocal competitions were handled like the Olympics, with certain kinds of things given a number for a degree of difficulty, would that make more people pay attention? (This run from “Lucia” is a 3.5 degree of difficulty. Here it comes! Oops, she flubbed that top C, and those roulades on the way up were uneven! That will cost her some points! That’s it, and the judges now give her a total of 8.6, dropping her to fourth place, behind the Romanian soprano. Too bad!)
What about comparing singing to cars? Cars are sexy, hot, cool, powerful, symbols of success and style. The ads for cars cost millions of dollars every year. How about ads for singing? (Men, this piece of music begs to be sung. Singing it will make you the envy of every girl at your gym. This song is so persuasive that when women hear you singing it they will follow you around no matter where you go. You can purchase this song for only $.99 at UTunes. Don’t be sorry, sing it!)
You can compare singing to just about anything in our culture and it comes up near the bottom of the heap. I tried contacting Billboard to get statistics about singing. How much money was made by singers last year? What kinds of styles are singers doing most? No one bothered to answer me, even though I tried several times and also went to other places. Millions of dollars are made worldwide by singers, but no one keeps track? Did you know that there is no category in most “job searches” for “singer” but there are ones for musicians. Does that mean all musicians are singers or all singers are musicians? Hmmmmmmm.
When school music programs were eliminated or cut, what was it that also went out the window? You could maybe keep the piano, keep the DVD player, keep the music ed, but there isn’t any more singing of songs in the classroom. And most of the choral directors of the schools, universities and religious institutions are pianists first. Singing training isn’t necessarily a part of choral conducting. The American Choral Directors Association Journal hardly ever mentions singing as a separate topic, but when it does, it is certainly only one small part of the overall topics covered. You can’t have a choir if you don’t have singers, so why not pay MOST of the attention to the singing? Beats me.
And yes, 32 million people watched “American Idle” [sic] last week and the contestants on that show are supposed to be singers, but we know that this show isn’t as much about singing as it is about sensationalism and the egos of the judges. Does it raise anyone’s awareness about the richness and variety of singing as it exists throughout the world? Well, you know the answer.
If we cared about singing the way we care about some of these other things our entire society would be different. (Singing Sunday!! Singing Snacks!! Tailgate Singing Parties!!) Each of us would be different. Singing itself would certainly be different.
It is incredibly apparent that the people in this world who are passionate about singing are in the minority. Amongst those folk some people only care about certain kinds of singing or certain singers, so you can’t include them all as being “singing enthusiasts”. Some people who are passionate about singing don’t sing themselves. Passionate non-singing fans — a group unto itself.
It is not surprising then, that making a change in the general attitude about singing isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. It isn’t simple to reach a mass audience and interest them in singing issues when you can’t even interest some of the people who are singers and teachers of singing to pay attention.
How about we get together next year and buy a Super Bowl TV commercial that says “Singing, the best thing to do to make the world a better place!” All we need is a few million bucks. Whaddya say?