Great Essays about Group Singing

I wanted to start a list of must-read pieces I’ve come across about choral singing. My list begins with only two, but I plan to add to it and I would love suggestions.

If Congress Were a Choir

I’ve started emailing this to people who respond to my email about my TEDx talk, and I’ve already posted about this essay here. But Margaret Evans makes so many points about all the valuable things singing adds to life. “Unless you’ve been given a solo – which is a privilege, not a right – your voice should never stand out. It’s all about the blend. There is a strange, inexpressible joy in blending. There’s a joy in lending your own small, imperfect voice to something much greater than the sum of its parts.”

How Can I Keep From Singing?

This was written by Dave Rowe, the choir director for the First Universalist Church Unitarian Universalist in Auburn, Maine. It’s a very moving treatise on the power of song. “The voice is the only instrument we all can play, the only instrument that is hidden inside of each one of us …” I see he also has a number of folk music bands! And he’s a voice teacher. Lucky people who live in Maine.

Why I can’t have nice flowers. Now I have to google to see if lilacs are poisonous. They probably are. Because they are one of my favorite flowers.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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5 thoughts on “Great Essays about Group Singing

  1. I’m Lucky enough to be in Dave’s church choir. Come visit sometime :-). For real.

  2. Julia, thank you for looking that up! Do you miss your car? (I didn’t when I got rid of mine.)

    Ellen, you are lucky! And I’m sure it would be so fun to visit and hear your choir. I do have a friend in Maine, I have to see how far she is from Auburn.

  3. I only miss having a car when I need to go do something that involves distance, carrying big things, or weather. But then, I rent a car, so I always have access to a car that is new and maintained etc. I don’t miss the payments or the maintenance or the worry of ownership. A car is just a tool. At one point, when we lived in the country, my husband and I had 2 cars, 1 truck and a motorcycle! Now, we don’t have anything with an engine. We bike, take the bus, walk or rent a car. But we live in the city so it is easy to do that.

    I haven’t had a car since 2003. In 2009 however, my parents were travelling and they left their car at my place (so I could take them to the airport). I realized as I drove their car here and there that I felt like a grown-up! I have been working on this idea about what is mainstream, what is marginal and identity issues for my philosophy degree. But right now, I have to write about metaethics for final term papers!

  4. Yeah, I felt more like a grown-up the last time I got behind a wheel. That would make an amusing list: Things That Make Me Feel Like a Grownup.

    Good luck with all those final term papers. The idea makes me shudder, but I loved grad school. Made me feel so vital, and alive. I love the community. I hope you’re having a great time too, in the midst of all the work.

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