Sunday, June 22, 2014

Does Having a PhD make it Harder to Have a Reaction?

Having been so moved by what I heard at the memorial for my friend the voice coach, I shared my reactions with a friend who is helping launch an effort to increase awareness of the realities of mental health.  This extraordinary undertaking (called the Hot Stove Project) seeks to put faces on individuals who cope well and contribute to society in overwhelmingly positive ways.

She was astonished that I was made so ill at ease by the made-in-the-factory singing I heard at their gathering.  Just because you have a PhD in some demanding discipline does not guarantee that you have reliable gut reactions to such elemental signs of life as the singing voice.  Most of us are unaware that we have genuine singing voices, having been bamboozled into thinking that those algorithmed products we hear constantly whether we want to or not are what human voices are supposed to sound like.

Wake up.  Sing something.  Sing something that you know from way back when, before you listened to CDs or the radio.  Sing something your mother or father sang to you....

Last night a friend told me of crossing the Atlantic on a ship laden with students, at the beginning of the folk song revival period of the 60's.  Though they wanted to sing together the only songs they all knew were commercials: "Use Ajax, the foaming cleanser..."