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  • Maire Clement

Singing To Be Heard


A student recently brought up a question for me. If they are never going to be a professional singer, then why do voice lessons? Why sing if not professionally, or for a gig or to obtain a goal?

I've been wracking my brain recently to answer this same question for myself.

Do I sing to be heard? If I am singing and no one pays to hear me, is my voice still heard?

I believe that my voice is always heard. I am heard when I practice, when I perform, when I hum on the streets...

The other day I was really excited about a new song that Davey and I wrote and was singing it quietly as I walked through a Jamaica Plain neighborhood. I thought I was alone. A man walked down his driveway and I suddenly realized I'd been caught singing simply for enjoyment. This stranger told me I had a really beautiful voice. I was seen and heard when I didn't even realize it.

Do you remember being a little kid? When I was little, I was always excited to try new things. By the time I got to high school, I was in piano lessons, voice lessons, dance class, plays/musicals, a brief fling with the speech team, choir, extra choirs...etc. When I started each of these activities, I wasn't thinking I would be a professional. I did them because they were fun. I liked them. It felt good to express myself in new ways.

Around my last birthday ( a couple of weeks ago), I started to wonder about the meaning of life and death. My spiritual teachers are often telling me that it isn't about "doing" but about "being." I have always done so many things...all of a sudden I wondered for the first time, "why?" Why should I sing? Why should I write or play music? What's the point?

Boston has been a very magical place for me. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to play the violin. I was so busy singing, dancing and playing piano that I put that dream aside. A year ago for Christmas Davey gifted me my first violin. This year for Christmas, he gave me fiddle lessons! I always dreamed of being a song-writer, and now I am actually writing music regularly. I dreamed of being an Irish step dancer, and now I am taking IRISH STEP DANCING LESSONS. I met Kieran Jordan at a gig that we did at The Burren in Cambridge. Since meeting and becoming friends, we have been trading music lessons for Irish Step Dancing lessons! I was at my Irish Step Dancing lesson two weeks ago and as I danced, the pressure of "why" finally left my chest. I realized that life isn't about making plans and setting goals, but it's about experiencing all that life has to offer. I used to interpret the phrase "live like today's your last" from a negative/cynical point of view. Now, I hear it in a new way--experience life--just for the sake of living. For me, that means Irish step dancing, fiddling, singing, yoga, meditation, teaching, hiking, playing games, watching the sun rise or set, dipping my toes in water, cuddling my cat, or holding a baby as they fall asleep in my arms (I am an amazing baby-sitter.)

So, why take voice lessons if you aren't going to be a professional singer?

Maybe a better question is: Do you like to sing?


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© Maire Clement 2019

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