In his new book, New York Times bestselling author Daniel H. Pink says that the time of day we do things matters. That beginnings, middles, and ends are significant. And that when we synchronize our actions with other people’s actions, amazing things happen.
In researching that last statement for When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink was floored at what studies revealed of one activity in particular: choral singing. Not just singing, but singing in groups. Research shows that the benefits are massive: higher pain thresholds, reduced need for pain medication, fewer symptoms of depression, more sensitivity toward others, higher production of infection-fighting immunoglobulin, improved mood, and more.
What is it about choral singing that brings about such dramatic benefits? According to Pink, when people come together and synchronize their actions, it gives those participating a deep sense of belonging. And, as others have written, belonging is a fundamental need that drives much of what we do as human beings.*
Creating a real community where singers feel they belong prompted the late Carla Wood (who wrote under the pen name CJ Williamson) to begin a newsletter for singers 30 years ago. That newsletter eventually became Classical Singer magazine. The magazine then expanded to online forums, workshops, Auditions Plus, and an annual convention.
The convention, especially, was Carla’s vision for the singing community. She wanted those who read the magazine to come together and meet, to see each other face to face, and then to learn, work and, most especially, to sing together. In the 15 years since that first convention in Hartford, Connecticut, singers have found that sense of belonging at the CS Music Convention.
In this issue you can read about the exciting events—classes, competition, audition feedback experience, and more—happening at this year’s convention this month in Boston (pp. 55–83). Find out what topics will be presented and who will be presenting them (p. 66). And you definitely won’t want to miss masterclasses offered by the always energetic and engaging Deborah Voigt, featured in this month’s cover story (p. 18).
This month we also bring you articles from and about Boston-based singers and companies to give you a real sense of the Boston singer community. First, Cindy Sadler takes a look at singer-started opera companies, including the Boston Opera Collaborative (p. 34). Next, Dana Lynne Varga brings you stories from singers who are also moms and how they manage the difficult but rewarding task of balancing work and family (p. 42). Finally, Margaret Felice shares what singers must see when visiting Beantown (p. 50).
One of my favorite moments each year happens in the final moments of the final concert on the final evening of the convention. It has become tradition to stand and sing together—hundreds of singers, teachers, coaches, parents, directors, judges, and more. Each year somebody makes the joke, “Wow! This is the impromptu choir every director dreams of!” And the sound generated from all of those voices truly is amazing.
But even more memorable for me than the incredible volume and thrill of sound is the moving and unforgettable feeling of synchronizing my voice with so many others and creating something so powerful. That sense of community and belonging is what Carla dreamed of and hoped for. I can’t wait to experience it again in Boston this month. I hope to sing with you there.
* Roy F. Baumeister and Mark R. Leary. “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation.” Psychological Bulletin, Vol 117, No. 3. May 1995, 497–529.