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When men sing together, lots of great things can happen. I won’t try to write an eloquent post about it, because this simple list of one-liners says it just fine:
- When men sing together, they put the troubles of the world behind them for a time in order to focus on doing something meaningful.
- When men sing together, they enjoy a camaraderie that is sadly unusual for men in our greater culture.
- When men sing together, they achieve a musical effect that no man can achieve by himself.
- When men sing together, they discover an experience that is much stronger than merely listening to the same song sung by others.
- When men sing together, they exercise the courage to put themselves out there for a cause that proves to be worth it.
- When men sing (well) together, they learn an awareness of what the others in the ensemble are singing.
- When men sing (well) together, they deliberately discipline themselves to do things in a certain way, because this makes the overall sound better.
- When men sing (well) together, they make one of the most noteworthy sounds in all of music.
- When men sing together, they create for themselves not only something to do, but a place to belong.
- When men sing (well) together, they create an art that serves to thrill many an audience.
- When men sing together, they bring together people of all kinds (both in the chorus and in the audience)–who might not ever get to know one another otherwise.
- When men sing together, they give themselves something to enjoy richly in life, and it can become a life-long hobby.
- When men sing together, they cause us to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, people could come together for causes other than music.
I don’t mean to overstate the case here; men singing together will certainly not fix everything that ails this world. But what it does do is to significantly enrich the lives of the individuals involved. It gives us something to look forward to each week, and in my view, that’s a really big deal in this hum-drum and troubled world!
I think I will never forget hearing a senior citizen say after a recent men’s chorus workshop, “I don’t remember when I’ve ever had this much fun singing!” And then there were the two teenagers who were hooked for life on their first experience singing in a men’s chorus. One of them interrupted the rehearsal to ask, “So, this group only meets on Tuesdays?!”
It is for me one of life’s most meaningful experiences, and yet its meaning is strangely non-pragmatic. I mean, it’s not like the economy does better because of men singing, or that it solves congested traffic patterns. But its value lies in something of a different sort; there’s something so “human” in the experience. And I find that Jack is simply a better person when there’s something like that to be experienced, and to be looked forward to each week.
There’s also quite a therapeutic effect in it for me. Dealing with all the details of the music, getting things just right–that’s part of it, to be sure. But really, it’s that SOUND. It’s just so “freakin’ cool” that it makes a 52-year-old director use terms like “freakin’ cool!” And when you see a room full of men grinning ear-to-ear when they realize how excellent the sound they just made was, that’s an unforgettable experience!
Of course, with Sing, Montana! Men’s Chorus, a couple more elements come into play. One is our multi-generational aspect, since we welcome men from a mature 13 up to 120. There’s a real chance here for men who have acquired good musical skills to be a part of introducing the younger singers to that same rich art form that has pleased so many in this life. That’s worth an authentic man’s effort right there! And where do the generations interact with one another anymore? Yet here, we do it on purpose!
The second element that I’m referring to is the chance to be part of a charitable organization that helps other people on purpose. It’s a little early to announce it just yet, but as we grow, Sing, Montana! is going to be in a very special position to help serve the local community in a very important and practical way. I’ll give the details later when the time is right, but what I have in mind is a way to support the local arts (including music education) in a way that is not currently being done.
All these things are why I’m so excited to be (finally) putting together an organization like this. It’s a huge undertaking, to be sure, but it’s worth it! And while we’re in these first few months of slow and patience-demanding chorus building, keeping all these things in mind makes it all the easier to envision a day when we’ll have over 100 men singing together and saying to themselves, “I wish I had gotten involved in this sooner!”