What role does music play in your everyday life? I asked this of my students at the beginning of every semester in my music appreciation course. I would often get responses that related to expression of one’s mood and emotions, a vehicle for creativity, and even a means to filling silence in the background. For some it was a place to escape, while for others it was a way to pump themselves up for a run or a workout at the gym. What was immediately obvious to me was that nobody lived without it. Music played a significant role for everyone.
As a professional singer and music educator, music plays a large role (or several roles) in my life. The most obvious one: it is my job to sing and teach others to sing. Teaching music is basically getting paid to have fun all day, and it is immensely satisfying to see a student succeed and be successful as a singer.
I love to sing! Partially for the challenge. It is exciting to get in front of a group of people and present music you have spent time working on and perfecting. You often put in hours and hours of practice, working on your technique, learning your music and working on effectively communicating the emotion and message of your piece. The difficulty in this process is what drew me to classical music and performing, I love the challenge in trying to master difficult pieces of music.
One of the things that makes music special to me is its ability to affect emotions and attitudes. For me, music is a palate cleanser. If I’m having a trying day, music can turn that around. Berthold Auerbach said, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” There are days when being able to engage in music takes away the stress of my day. In fact, there are times when I can even relieve a headache by singing.
Another beautiful aspect of singing is the ability to be uniquely creative and expressive. Music provides a wonderful opportunity where I can express my emotions and personality. I can present music that is fun and lighthearted, full of romanticism, or music that shows my faith in Christ. While every piece of music is written with defining characteristics, it is the way I interpret and connect with the music that results in a performance that is unique to me as the singer. I can “put my fingerprints on it.”
Collaboration is a large part of music that I really enjoy! It is an incredible experience to work with other quality musicians on music and then perform it together. Over the past eight years, I have had the opportunity to be a part of Deo Cantamus; singing in the ensemble. Deo Cantamus is wonderful because it includes all of the aforementioned things that I enjoy about music in a choral setting. The ensemble provides an outlet where I can work alongside other musicians and perform challenging music that turns the heart and mind toward my Savior. The bond through faith is something that makes Deo Cantamus really special. This ensemble is comprised of individuals who not only seek to be high-quality singers, but also desire to worship our Lord and present music that will point others toward Christ.
There is no denying that music is a large part of my everyday life, and I enjoy every minute of it. Nothing washes the dust away like praising the Lord with fellow believers in Christ.
~ Richard Joseph