One of the first gifts that I gave to my new lover, John, some years ago was a song called, “The Nearness of You.” I had recorded myself singing the romantic song very informally on my iPhone. I sent it to him for his birthday after we had been seeing one another for only a couple of months.
It was a bit of a bold move. And to be candid, I think he was a little embarrassed. But he was also quite pleased. Our birthday-celebration weekend together was more “romantic” than usual.
And some time later, the gesture was reciprocated to the delight of both of us. Holding aloft a Greek classical period hoplite helmet that he had bought in Crete; John moved enticingly around the room, half-clothed, while singing in a deep voice the song “Golden Helmet of Mambrino.”
It is an amusingly noble (and masculine) song from the musical The Man of La Mancha. John’s rendering of it was fun and sexy. And noting the pleasure in my eyes, he began to sing for me more often. As I did for him. I believe we both felt a more fluid romantic bond after these shared musical moments.
Finding this kind of joy in singing songs for those who are close to us is more common than you might imagine. A long-time friend, who is also a singing student of mine, has taken lessons with me for several years. In her late 70s, she continues to improve her singing voice so that she can serenade close friends and family members.
Her unique approach is to take well known songs and sing them with her own newly-created lyrics that relate to the life of the person for whom she is singing. At present, she is not singing for a lover. But I know that she still hopes to find a romantic partner. And no doubt, she will sing a special song for him.
But it isn’t just through singing solo for one another that powerful feelings are generated. Singing in choirs is also a deep and emotion-full experience. Research shows that choral music “does make people feel better and closer to others. When you sing with others, …there is a palpable sense of social solidarity.”
When we are not in a pandemic, singing in a choir can also lead to romantic bonding. For those who are not comfortable with other ways of looking for a mate, a choir setting can help to break the ice. We sit next to one another and harmonize our voices. We hear the testosterone in the men’s voices. We feel the visceral pleasure of making music together.
Then, after you have shared the making of wonderful music with a person to whom you are attracted, it becomes easier to strike up a conversation. Since we humans can bond very deeply when we make music together, is it surprising that romance is sometimes in the air?
The speaking voice can also be important to a budding relationship. Former first lady Michelle Obama relates how appealing it was to hear Barack Obama’s voice on the phone when they first connected. She had been skeptical about meeting him. But, “Oh, that voice!” she said in an interview.
Think for a moment about how a person’s voice can grate on you or attract you. In both singing and speaking, this can be the case. Perhaps you lack confidence about your voice – you’ve been told that you sound rather whiny and shrill. Or that you sing out of tune.
In my long experience as a performer and a vocal coach, I know how heavily these kinds of comments can sit on a person’s heart. And how long-standing the effects of hurtful comments can be.
Later in life, women and men have timidly approached me for lessons saying exactly that: “My mother told me I have no voice. So forget it! But I really want to sing before it’s too late!” or “My husband says I’m always out of tune. Do you think I can improve?”
In working with this kind of student, I help them to see that they have more options than they can currently imagine. With time, patience and lots of laughter, the sound of almost every voice can be improved upon. And with that more luxurious voice comes greater confidence in other areas of life, as well. And perhaps… a little more romance.
Do you love to sing? Have you performed for your loved ones? Do you think singing can create or intensify romantic emotions? Have you found creative ways to serenade someone you love? Please share below!
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