I’m a big fan of musicals. I grew up listening to original Broadway cast albums and original movie soundtracks by the score. In our local community theatre, the summer musical was one of the most anticipated events of the year. Roberta, Guys and Dolls, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, The Fantasticks–all held places of pride in our family memories. We used to play a version of “Name That Tune!” in which one of us would sing a song and the rest would have to guess what musical it was from. It was a blessing to me to pass down this love to my son, who played roles in a number of musicals at Central, Muscatine High, and New Era Lutheran Church’s dinner theatre. We all continue to enjoy more recent Broadway offerings: Hamilton, Hadestown, and Mamma Mia!, are current favorites.
But, for some reason, there are a lot of folks out there who hate musicals. Now I don’t deny them their right to feel as they do; I don’t like horror movies and I’m sure there are many people who are aghast that I feel that way. But one of the most frequent complaints that I hear about musicals is that, “no one just bursts into spontaneous singing in the real world!” (Of course, my response is, “Obviously you’ve never been to MY house!”) They don’t think that musicals reflect reality as they know it. But what if they did? What if our world was about expressing the music that comes from our souls?
When I ask myself this question, my thoughts always come around to my mom. She was not a musician; my dad, a long-time church choir director, and I, a singer and player of multiple instruments, claimed that title. But it was from my mom that I learned the joy of music. She knew a seemingly-endless number of songs and would often just start singing when a particular song fit the situation. The problem was this: she couldn’t carry a tune in a basket. Yes, my mom was completely tone-deaf! But she never let that stop her from enjoying music. She often said, “I know I don’t have the greatest voice. I wouldn’t try to sing in a choir. But I’m not going to let that keep me from singing.”
So what does the music that is in you sound like? Is it joyful? Sad? Lonely? Passionate? Confused? Whatever music is in your soul, don’t be afraid to express it. The ability to do so is a great gift, one that can draw us closer to others and enable us to communicate in ways both public and intimate. You don’t have to stage a big song-and-dance in the middle of street, but don’t keep this part of yourself hidden away. If we all can learn to share our songs with one another, perhaps we will learn to listen and understand each other with grace and harmony.