The Joys and Benefits of Singing

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Yup, that's me at the John Finley Walk pop-up-piano, but mostly I'm singing because I regrettably stopped practicing piano a long time ago. But getting "everyone singing" and 'singing along" is this column's most ardent desire. And you may say, just because you're blessed with a nice singing voice and a strong musical gene, what about those who don't have them?

Well, research says everyone benefits from even humming along. Society also benefits from singing together. Less talking is safer! No one gets left out, and no conflicts occur. Weren't bar scenes healthier when there were pianos that encouraged patrons to do more singing and less sipping?

The Pop Up Pianos need a much longer run and community sings need an all-out revival. When I grew up, home pianos and piano lessons were commonplace. And we also sang walking down the street and on car trips, Wherever. Taken for granted were the glee club, choir and band extra- curricular activities offered at my Edison High School in Minneapolis.

Yes, music was quite different then. Except for the predominance of couple love songs which slighted the family and friendship kind, I'd sure like to turn back the musical clock, at least part of the time. It would be a way to expose younger generations, especially, to the Great American Songbook classics.

Faith groups would benefit from bringing back familiar hymn sings, which relates to what this column is most overjoyed about. Thanks to William Grimes' May 28 front page New York Times' story "Something Happened on the Way to Bountiful: The Audience Sings Along," I learned that the mostly black audience, without being asked, joined Cicely Tyson in singing that grand old hymn, "Blessed Assurance." Everyone knows Tyson won the Best Actress Tony Award but highest honors go to the Grimes story and to this audience who felt singing along to this well-known hymn was, "the natural thing thing to do."

On a separate topic, I'd like to mention the premature passing of Upper East Sider, 68 year-old Artie Elefant from leukemia. Legally blind, Elefant was an invaluable supporter of the Daniel's Music Foundation, composed of members with various disabilities. Elefant was blessed with close extended family and friend relationships, but the overwhelming consensus heard at his standing-room-only funeral service, was that any support Artie needed, could not have been more mutually beneficial. And later, his neighbors and apartment house staff, reportedly said how he was never too busy to stop and ask how they were doing ? and that he really wanted to know.

Another custom we need to revive - along with everyone singing.

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