I believe that singing is a lot more than most people think it is. In fact, I believe singing is proof of the soul. More to the point, music is proof to me that we each possess a soul, regardless of our species. But for the purpose of this entry I'll stick with the human being, and I'll stick with singing rather than playing an instrument.
A body without a soul would feel no reason or need to sing, nor would it derive joy from singing, or from listening to another sing. If there is no soul, then what is it that singing touches in us? Why do we go out of our way to listen? Why do we spend money on concerts, musical shows and operatic performances? As sentient beings, singing seems to be intrinsic--absolutely necessary. Before we discovered that hitting a hollow log with a stick made different sounds, we were already singing.
I also believe that all music emanates from and touches different spiritual centers (chakras) in the human being. Some music arouses our most basic instincts and some touches the heart. Some appeals to the intellect and some inspires our highest spirituality. We have to have all of it to be balanced, but there is an overload of music in our society that is geared only toward the lower three chakras (base instinct, sexuality and rage, and "me" centered attachments that are really not about love, but about need). This is why I've always felt that those of us who are musicians need to understand the power we can have over other people's emotions. When we make music from any of the spiritual centers, that is the effect we create in those who hear us.
When we sing, we're using our body, which is a musical instrument in itself; all instruments were invented to mimic the human voice. Nettl has spent her entire life learning how to use her instrument. Just like playing the violin or the piano requires flexibility exercises, warm-ups and a working knowledge of exactly what each instrument is capable of, singing demands no less dedication. And playing any musical instrument is an atheletic art. Don't think so? Try this:
Hold your abdomen in very tight and while doing so, say "HA-HA-HA-HA -- HA-HA-HA-HA" very quickly (about 4 "HAs" per second) for about a minute. Each HA has to be clear and distinct, and equal in execution. Now try doing it in scales, up and down. Imagine following an orchestra, in front of an audience, then imagine doing it while walking back and forth across a stage while acting out a role, complete with remembering your lines. Finally, imagine doing it with several other people singing completely different things, and even one person singing their part right in your face. And if you're singing Handel, those HAs would have to be executed about 8 per second. Oh, and imagine that you have to breathe in there, somewhere. Feel any respect for operatic singers now? The HA-HA is a basic exercise that all formally trained singers do to warm up. There are countless others that are even harder.
But we don't need to be formally trained to sing because, fortunately, there's all kinds of singing. Have you ever sung when you were a little in your cups? Or do you sing while driving? It doesn't matter how good or bad it sounds, it feels great, doesn't it? You don't care, you just love the way it feels. I think we all should sing as a personal release, whether we can carry a pitch or not. That's not the point. If someone has an irritating speaking voice, should they not speak? Of course not. Singing is every creature's birthright. It's how we connect with our soul, and sometimes with others. It is the soul's expression of its existence: "I am!"
Just because we've developed singing to the extent that we have, we're really no different from wolves, birds, whales, or crickets. We all have the capacity to sing out, and we should. It's one of our inate functions, one that is designed to make us feel good. So just open up and let it out! Singing releases chemicals in the brain that comfort us, make us feel love, and help us heal.