Caroling for the Vocally Impaired

I love music, and in fact love to sing. Alone. Not because I am a great solo artist, but because no one wants to hear me sing, or, god forbid, sing with me.

Turns out that’s not so bad. According to a study on vocal health conducted by Rhonda S. Hackworth of Rutgers University, music teachers are at high risk of having vocal health issues. Obviously, they use their voices all the time.

Her survey broke teachers into three categories,

  • Pre service (no previous teaching experience)
  • Early career (those in the first 10 years of their career)
  • Late career (11 years or more teaching)

When asked whether they were experiencing or had experienced a vocal disorder, an astonishing 5% of pre-service, 22% of early career, and 46% of late career music teachers responded positively.

Singing is dangerous. .

can't sing

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I too have a voice disorder. I’ve been told it’s called being tone deaf. People from my fiance to my children, to total strangers have politely and not so politely asked that I not sing, at least not out loud. I’ve even been told that me mouthing the words was noisy and disturbing.

But with Thanksgiving this past week, and the holidays just around the corner, it was inevitable for someone to ask me to go Christmas carolling. Turns out this year, it was a group of music teachers. Despite the risks, the prospect of alcohol laced wassil has me anxious to bundle up and head out the door. How do I join in without…well, ruining things?

Lip sync. Like Milli Vanilli before me, and countless other artists who have had to fake it to make it, and despite even mouthing the words may prove my musical ineptitude, for the right holiday drink I’ll risk keeping a “Silent Night” while moving my mouth in a close imitation of those around me. In a group large enough, my lack of audible contribution will go unnoticed, and my wise man status preserved.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Offer to Play an Instrument. At Christmas and in the carolling world, you don’t have to be good, just the first to volunteer. I can play a mean triangle, and I’m not above shaking a bell in time to the music. I can fake my way through the Little Drummer Boy, even though I’m hardly little, and certainly won’t be mistaken for the Start of Bethlehem or anywhere else for that matter. As long as it gets me in on the flask tipping section of the evening, I’m in.

Threaten to Sing. If lip synching is frowned upon, or you can’t get the group to allow you to play an instrument, go ahead and hum a few bars. The moment I break into song, every creature within earshot, including my neighbor’s nearly deaf poodle, begins to protest, most often verbally. What if they ask you to stay home, since you can’t sing? Threaten to tag along close behind, and sing anyway.

You’ll probably end up dragging a wheeled cooler with all the beverages in it. Lucky you. You’ve managed to become the Christmas carolling version of a water boy.

If you’re a music teacher like my friends, or want to be one, watch out for those vocal disorders. Take care of your vocal chords. You know, get enough sleep, warm up your voice, and drink water. That way you can cover for us, the vocally challenged, this holiday season.

Oh, and don’t try to teach me to sing. Even when it comes to Christmas miracles, there are limits.

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9 thoughts on “Caroling for the Vocally Impaired”

  1. Stand in between two men with really loud voices. That way, you can sing as loud as you want and they’ll still drown you out.

    If that doesn’t work, suggest that everyone partake of the holiday cheer before all the singing. If everyone is a little sloshed, they won’t mind if you aren’t in key.

    Hey! I’m just trying to help.

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