Swans sing before they die — ‘t were no bad thing
Should certain persons die before they sing.
I take issue here with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Singing is a birthright, and it would be tragic to stifle this basic human impulse for fear of harsh judgment.
Coleridge, of course, refers to those who sing for the wider public, and not everyone is so equipped. As the Jerry character says in Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love: “In life I have a terrible voice, but when I’m soaping myself under hot water, I sound just like Eartha Kitt.”
But singing is not just an art – it is a fundamental way of communicating. While we may enjoy singing in the shower or as we go about day to day business, it is also a way of sharing experiences that transcends mere words. And consider the multitude of ways we use songs, the myriad situations, the variety of types of singing across every culture.
While the benefits for young children are well known, less familiar are outcomes singing produces throughout education. A recent New York Times article featured the accomplishments of the VOICE charter school, a K-7 school in New York City where singing is a focus of the curriculum and where students significantly outperform peers at comparable schools.
In our annual Summer Conservatory, San Francisco Opera Guild provides a unique opportunity for young people to explore their vocal abilities at many levels. In a varied, experiential program, young people ages 10 to 18 come with a range of prior experience to learn together, rehearse, and mount a fully-staged opera. While not all go on to further study, they experience the special bond and sense of communal accomplishment that singing together can create. These are profound rewards that many who sing in choirs, in religious congregations, with family, or around campfires feel, and one that is available all around us.
Applications are currently being accepted for Summer Conservatory 2015 this July and can be found here.
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