The voice is a powerful instrument. Whether delivering a political speech or performing a song, our voices can be a moving mode of communication.
We go to school for years, where we strengthen our vocabularies and learn to speak eloquently. We use our voices in battles of wit and intelligence, to argue our points and get what we want. We use them in times of danger and distress to call out for help.
Yes, our voices are very important, especially our musical voices, which we can use to reach others and ourselves in impactful ways.
I have been thinking about the voice a lot lately as I have recently moved in with a new roommate who sings 90% of his waking hours, whether it be "There is a puppy, across the street, wearing a leash" in a high-pitched drawl or a medley of Glee tunes while he is getting ready in the morning. In my life now, singing is everywhere.
One may think that would be annoying, and possibly to some it would, but surprisingly, I have found quite the opposite has happened. And I have also begun to sing.
I realized this the other day when I caught myself singing my latte order to a barista, then again when I missed three calls because I was singing so loudly to myself. I have also found that when you sing, you tend to be pretty happy.
A warning, however: When you're singing because you've caught the bug from someone in close proximity, be warned that songs sung are not up to the individual in question, and they will by default be stuck singing snippets of songs sung by the infector.
And it's funny how a song has the power to take you back in time; memories can come flooding back at the sound of a particular cord progression. Sometimes, you are transported for the brief moment in time and you can remember what if feels like to be at your eighth birthday again.
The connection between music and memory can be seen in Alzheimer patients, who often have strong flashbacks and recollections when they hear songs from their past, and are sometimes so struck they will sing the words of the old song and react with smiles and tears to the melodies. My great-grandmother would play her piano for hours and sing old songs softly to herself. She said that she did not feel alone when had her music and said that she often felt like her deceased sister was sitting next to her on the piano bench.
Besides, it just feels good to sing. Something happens when you move your lips and find a melody that makes you happier and makes it stick. I wonder if one day when I am much older and wiser, and again hear one of the tunes my college roommate used to sing, will I be transported back to this time in my life? Is all this singing solidifying and strengthening my memories?
I guess only time will tell but for now, it just feels good to belt it out like there is no one watching.
Naomi Yorke is a Port Coquitlam student who lived in Shanghai, China for four years, writing about her experiences twice a month for The Tri-City News. She now lives in Chicago, where she's attending art school, and continues her column.