Our Own Ode of Joy
Singing Heals Our Soul, Sets Us Free
Before singing was part of any human culture, it was part of nature. Nature never tries hard; it just is. It grows and blossoms and flows. So does heartfelt singing—as a joyful expression of soul, of one’s essential being. It is giving and sharing. Most of all, it is alive.
Singing like this doesn’t ask for effort. But it does ask for courage. In expressing our longings, hopes and love, we may encounter fear, shame or sorrow. That’s part of the beauty and surprising simplicity of liberating ourselves through song, which can be equally cheerful, lighthearted and humorous, or insightfully confronting the challenging issues in our lives.
Some people make every effort to sing eloquently, but the joy of singing is just as fully accessible for those that can’t master the technical qualifications or even carry a tune. All we really need to do to achieve personal satisfaction is to sing what’s inside us, enabling who we are to emerge. That’s why singing is healing; it helps make us whole.
Giving emotional space to ourselves in song allows us to be heard in a special way; no two voices are alike because each is exactly suited to the individual. Our innate tendency to sing, like other forms of music, connects us with others and reminds us of ways in which we are attuned to one another. More natural than talking, the vibration of a singing voice is the most magical, direct way to connect our internal and external worlds.
It’s comforting to note that we can only sing off-key if we compare our voice to another’s. No child ever decides by himself that he can’t sing. A child spontaneously sings, dances and draws without preconception until an authority figure steps in with a discordant opinion.
Singing is a natural phenomenon as intuitive as breathing. It’s our right to sing freely, and so share our hearts and music with the world. As a soaring expression of love it contributes greatly to the well-being of individuals, communities and society.
Jan Kortie first introduced the idea of voice-liberation in the Netherlands 30 years ago, developing a joyful approach to personal and professional singing that extends beyond traditional methods and techniques. His book, Your Soul Wants to Sing, available in Dutch, is the primer for his Academy of Voice Liberation, where he serves as director.