Are you the one who hangs back in the crowd, hoping that no one can hear you croak as others carol?
Do you pretend to not be able to find the right page in the hymnal as others are singing all around you in church?
Have you ever feigned laryngitis so that you didn’t have to take your turn at karaoke?
Or, rather, take a different approach. You, too, can make a joyful noise!
I’ve been a church musician for many years, and I love singing, especially to facilitate prayer during services throughout the year. I’ve heard many people tell me they “cannot” sing, or that their voice is “terrible.” I’ve seen so very many people stand throughout a long hymn, their mouths shut firmly, their expression a mixture of terror and embarrassment (perhaps they’re thinking of how terrible they’d sound if they tried to sing with everyone else?)
And, yet, I don’t know anyone in the family of believers who does not like music, especially Christmas music. So, for all the Caroling Cowards out there, here are some tips to encourage you and help you join in, even a little, the next time a Christmas song sounds brightly at church (or elsewhere):
o Much of singing – in fact, the greater part of singing – “on key” and with others is listening. Listen for pitches, tones, changes of dynamics (loud/soft). Think about matching the sounds you hear around you – hear others around you more than you hear yourself.
o Think of the words and emphasize them. As you listen to the pitches around you, focus on the words of the songs. Songs of faith are songs of prayer – and so, bring out the words more than the music. Connect the sentences. Feel the message of these powerful songs in your heart and keep them soft and sure on your tongue.
o Have fun! Remember, the phrase is “Make a joyful noise” – and this is what all the fuss is about when it comes to Christmas caroling. If you are very unsure of singing in a group, ask to be the one to carry the jingle bells or strike the drum. Smile, extend warmth and welcome to those for whom you carol. Be part of the festivities and feel your insecurity fade.
o Understand your voice. Your voice is not “good” or “bad,” it is part of you – and part of what God made when He made you. How can it be anything but wonderful? So, understand what you are capable of in terms of using it. Can’t solo? Enjoy being part of a choir? Self-conscious in a crowd? Practice singing to a recording in your home or car to gain confidence. Listen. Reflect on the prayer-that-is-song. Feel that joy in your heart from God’s love bubble up so strongly that you cannot do anything but sing!
As much as people have said it, I haven’t met anyone who truly could not sing. Each person has a voice – a God-given voice – and you have only to find yours in order to go from Caroling Coward to Christmas Song Singer!
Blessings for the day,