We forget how eloquent human voices in song can be when unfettered by electronics, especially when they break silence. To be in the same room with an accomplished singer performing, and to be amid silence, are both surprisingly rare in our digital and media-soaked society.
I was reminded of this on March 22, as students from Platte County and other metro area schools competed in the district vocal music contest held at Liberty High School. An ensemble from Park Hill South High School had just finished singing a wonderful song, voices blended, high and low notes reverberating in a small classroom. Then there was quiet, followed by applause and then more quiet settled over the room.
The quiet came from politeness and consideration for competitors. These students practice vocal music all year. They take it seriously. Some take private lessons. They love to sing. There is a bit of the sacred to them in these contests and the music that fills the air for moments. All respect is granted to the music.
But I can’t help but wonder if the quiet before and after adds to the magic.
Voices are constant in most of our worlds. The clock radio voice awakens many of us in the mornings. Televisions are clicked on. Weather forecasters and news anchors speak with polished voices as we eat breakfast. Into the car we go to head to work and new voices come from the radio or perhaps a personal music device is switched on.
I remember a few years back, when I made a visit to a college campus to speak at a class. I had not been on campus in a while. It seems like two out of three students walked the sidewalks with ear buds piping in the music coming from their iPods. In fact, during class, the laptops clicked open and on went the headphones. I probably would have done the same if such devices had been available in my time. I love music. We felt hip if we owned a transistor radio.