Singing to Heal

My mother always told the story that I would sing anywhere that I was. Especially in the sandbox in our backyard. She called in “Sandbox Lullabies” I couldn’t make more than a few words at the time. But I sure could sing.

Some of my favorite memories are of my father singing. You didn’t have to ask him. If there were more than a few people at a gathering, he would sing. I sang in the “Junior Choir” at our church and I could not wait to be old enough to sing in the “Big Choir” (you had to be in high school)

The only time I sang with my father was in that choir. For me, it was the only time that I could do something with him. He was ‘old school’ and didn’t allow me to go fishing or play golf with him. Those were ‘boy’ things. But he shared his music with me as long as I sang alto.

So I sang.

Part of his legacy to me is the joy I find in 40’s music. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Vic Damone, Nat King Cole and, of course, Tony Bennett.

Driving is my opportunity to listen to stations that play 40’s music. I find it soothing because 1) I knew the songs and 2) I can sing along as a tenor.

When I joined the Vocal Arts of San Luis Obispo, I realized that singing made me feel better-physically, mentally and emotionally. I could be dead tired and not want to go to rehearsal but by the time it was over, I felt like I could do anything. When we sang in competition or, sometimes, in a regular concert, I would feel like I could fly.

The ability to sing again, as a group, has been a mental and emotional life saver. No, we are not in the same room. Vocal Arts invested in a thing called Jack Trip which allows us to sing from our own homes and hear all the singers in real time. The difference in our collective mental health has been astounding.

Nothing confirmed our feelings like the AARP article on Tony Bennett. He is battling Alzheimer’s and has difficulty remaining in reality. But he kept doing concerts. Because, on stage, singing, he was still Tony Bennett. His memory would get better. He connected with his audience and his family when he sang. He remembers the words and the notes that he has sung for years. He feels them.

(see )

Singing heals. Something happens to me and my brain when I sing. Holly Near once said that singing, for her, was like an internal massage. That is how it feels to me.

And if it keeps my brain alive, that is just a giant bonus.

And here is a little bonus for you–Vocal Arts in France, 2015

Categories: Church Choir, Holly Near, Singing, Vocal Arts EnsembleTags: , , ,


  1. This is a lovely post, Gael. Having watched the videos I can see why this is so enjoyable for you, and why it has such a positive effect.


  2. Thank you, Gael, for posting the video along with memories of your dad. As a child and young adult, I too loved to sing, and I too sang with my dad – everywhere we went, we sang. I remember a family car trip to Las Vegas to see my aunt Wilma and uncle Fred (yep). That long drive through the desert was the funnest with the hills we called “tummy ticklers” and singing – my mom and brothers asleep. And I too sang in the church choir with my dad. His amazing tenor voice aimed straight at me, an alto in the row directly across from him. Great memories. Thank you, again. I hope to hear you all in person sometime soon. OOO

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely story and music. Thank you for sharing. I shared this on my Facebook page. I have found that the older I get the more i love the music of the 40’s and 50’s the smooth and soothing voices of Sinatra, Como and many others. Thanks and blessings, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!! I find the music very soothing, too.


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