How has singing influenced my life? First of all, like almost every other kid, I learned the alphabet by singing “The Alphabet Song.” It is not an exaggeration to claim that singing is probably the first step toward literacy. (Even though I laughed when the song paused for an instant on the letter “P.” After all, I was only 4 when I learned it.)
But even more importantly, think about this: Newborn babies cry. We check their diapers, and try feeding them, but eventually we rock them and sing them to sleep. Unless you’re a really bad singer, it works. After a few kids, and now grandchildren, of my own, I have come to think of singing as a need that is hardwired in all of us, only slightly less important than food and a change of diaper, I suppose.
The practice of rocking creates motion in the vestibular fluid of the spiral canals of the inner ear, where our sense of balance comes from. This is why rocking chairs are so popular in nurseries and living rooms — and stress centers. Rocking creates the same motion an unborn child feels while swimming in utero. We remember our first home — and it is calming and wonderful. We are balanced as we enjoy the rocking motion. And what do we do when we are content? We sing. The two experiences are fundamentally linked. Heck, even today if I have a really awful day, I know I can make everything better if I curl up in the fetal position, rock, and sing something.
Being pushed on a swing is really just large-scale rocking. My granddaughters sing when I push them on their swing. Even before they knew how to talk, they sang. It’s pure joy.
I have come to think of singing as a fundamental expression of happiness and wholeness. Singing is as important as anything in the world.
- Jeff Britton, Heartland Board Member