Last Sunday Claire and I wound up the weekend in Seattle and decided to attend the Song Circle sponsored by the Seattle Folklore Society (SFS). There were about fifteen voices and song leaders that evening. This weekly circle has been going on for three decades or more thanks to the dedication of SFS members.

Singing is not icing on the cake, it is bread for the soul. Songs circles are a wonderful place to find your own voice, and enjoy the healing benefits of community singing. There is usually an opportunity to present three or four songs in a typical song circle. It doesn’t hurt to prepare a list of songs so you are ready when your turn comes around. I try to present a song for a reason … like something old, something new, something funny, something true… and occasionally something irreverent.

Something old comes from a body of shared songs everyone knows and can sing freely. A well known Bill Staines song like Roseville Fair, a ballad like Red River Valley, or a rock&roll song like Bye Bye Love, helps to open voices and build harmonies. Everyone singing freely and openly is what it is about… otherwise we might as well stay in the shower.

The circle is a great place to try out a new song. This may be an old song just learned, a new song which might stand the test of time, or maybe a recently completed original song. Like some others in the circle I believe a song worth singing is a song worth memorizing, so this is a good place to test the memory as well as try out the song. If it is a song you believe in don’t be shy about repeating it in future circles… how else will it become an old song that everyone can share with vigor?

Funny and true may be done for entertainment and that is encouraged too. That’s how you develop confidence in your voice. It doesn’t hurt though if there is a good chorus to bring the community along. Of course plans change and you may not do any of the songs you prepared. You may be reminded of a different song by one you hear, or a theme may develop and you just have to sing that one frog song in your repertoire.

What ever you sing, sing it with conviction. You will gladden those around you, and lift your own spirits through the week that follows. 

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