Monday, February 25, 2019

Singing in harmony as a metaphor for life

Singing together is known to have many benefits, for both mental and physical well-being.

photo by William Murphy

But if we think about it, singing together is also a wonderful example of how to live a harmonious life. Here’s how singing in harmony can be seen as a metaphor for life.

When we sing together we come as a group of individuals. But we work as a team to create something bigger than ourselves.

We need to put our individuality to one side in order to build something larger (see Singing in a choir – balancing individual freedom with the demands of the team).

singing in harmony

I once met somebody who had no background in music. She thought that “singing in harmony” means “singing the same thing as everyone else”, i.e. unison singing.

The word ‘harmony’ in common usage suggests that. When we talk about a world in harmony we think of everybody on the same page, everybody being similar to everybody else.

But “being in harmony” doesn’t mean that.

It means complementing what others are doing and co-existing in a pleasing way that everyone agrees with, that benefits everyone equally.

When we sing in harmony together we may find ourselves standing next to somebody who is singing something very different from us.

We accept that “something different” as a part of what we are jointly trying to create. We don’t try to change what that person is doing. Neither do we need to change ourselves in order to “fit in”.

We allow our own vocal contribution to exist alongside theirs. We are expressing ourselves, but also realising that we need their contribution in order to complete the arrangement.

a harmonious life

Singing in harmony is about two (or more) people being themselves, but collaborating to create something bigger than both of them.

At the same time as becoming part of a greater whole, the individuals still hold on to their sense of self.

That is pretty much a definition of how to live a harmonious life.

To be able to live and work alongside others in our community (or neighbourhood or city or nation).

To respect differences and the unique contribution that everybody makes.

To realise that by combining our unique inputs we end up creating something bigger and better than we could as individuals.

All this whilst maintaining a healthy sense of our own selves.

Next time you come home from choir, try to keep that sense of harmony and let it seep into your everyday life. Who knows, together we may create a better world.

See also A choir is a shining example of the perfect community.

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Chris Rowbury



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Chris Rowbury


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