by Dr. Ken Larsen
The above quote from Wm. James somehow has always made sense to me, even if I don’t fully understand the reason the meaning is so intuitively insightful.
I envy musicians who can sit together and jam with impromptu abandon and not only enjoy themselves, but they bring happiness and joy to those sitting around them watching. It’s a language and a connection that goes above and beyond what us non-musicians enjoy. They don’t even have to share the same language. Music is their language.
A friend of mine is a retired trumpet player/ entertainer. I enjoy listening to him tell me about some of the nuances in the musical arts that are not evident to the uninitiated. His stories about rubbing shoulders with well known entertainers in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe are interesting and memorable. I’ve gotten to know some celebrities through Mike without ever having seen them.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that when I sing, I can lift my level of mental health and happiness. There is something in going to another internal place to sing and make music that is soothing to me, and distracting from the ordinary cares of life. Listening to music is OK. But I find being actively involved in singing and perhaps playing to be much more fulfilling.
As an undergrad a friend taught me a few chords on a guitar. I’ve used what I learned often throughout my life since then. When people ask me if I play guitar, I smile and respond, “I play at it.” And indeed I do. Good mental health and happiness require a certain amount of “play” time in our lives. Playing guitar and singing old favorites is good therapy for me.
Even if you can’t play an instrument, you can go to YouTube and find some of your favorites available as Karaoke recordings, so you can sing your favorite songs with high quality accompaniment and arrangements in the quiet of your home. And if you have a dog, he or she may sometimes join you in a doggy harmony. J
My wife is tolerant of my caterwauling because she knows how much I enjoy it. We even sing together from time to time, but not as often as I’d like.
Life is sometimes hard and at the end of the day it’s good to go to another place to be refreshed in our mind. I used to do that with booze and TV, but today I find an hour of singing in my study is far more restful and refreshing to my beleaguered psyche.
If you ask what music I enjoy, I would have to say anything with melody and harmony. The vocalists I like to emulate are Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Kris Kristofferson, and Elvis of course.
So try it sometime, remembering Wm. James insightful words: “I don’t sing because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.”