Music has been a part of my life for over forty-five years. I have enjoyed it in many forms from playing (guitar and piano), writing, disc jockeying (both on radio and at live events) and simply listening to it. But above all, I love singing.
I started with the church youth choir at seven years old. I would sing with other troupes, eventually participating in school choruses and chorales. I performed in my share of school musicals. Competitively, I would audition for the various levels of school festivals and eventually even find my way to the Allentown Symphony Chorus for a brief stint.
It did not matter when or how, as long as I enjoyed doing it, I was going to keep singing.
Music has played some very important roles in my life. Besides my younger formative years, I relied on music to take my mind elsewhere as I sat in a chemotherapy chair for three hours during each treatment, the music inspiring my mind to help fight my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Of course, music would also be blasted through my headphones, every time that I had to rehabilitate my body back from the many challenges it has faced.
And depending on the source of stress, I would pick a genre of music (I listen to everything), to help me meditate and reduce the toxicity that stress causes.
I should also mention, that my daughters also being involved in “musical” activities such as dance or orchestra, also produced enjoyment for me.
But over time, my survivorship has taken its toll on my body. Damage from late developing side effects from radiation therapy and chemotherapy have wreaked havoc under the shell that people see. Mobility and flexibility has been greatly limited, endurance mostly gone, fatigue a major problem, I simply do what I can, and I am happy with that.
Following my first heart surgery back in 2008, I needed to rehab my lungs, actually my entire rib cage area from being cracked open for the surgery. Increasing and maintaining lung capacity is critical for recovery. To help with this, I was given a “toy.”
This, is called a spirometer. The goal is to get the “ball” to a certain higher number, repeatedly and eventually without effort. And though it may seem easy, it can be frustrating, and boring. But it was a requirement as I recovered from the surgery. I would see this device several times after that, following two bouts with pneumonia, and other concerns with my lung capacity, courtesy of radiation damage to my lungs.
Like I said, using a spirometer is boring and difficult to keep up the interest. But without this type of exercise, my lung capacity would continue to decrease, only more rapidly.
So, that is when I relied on something that had always been there for me in my life, music, in particular, singing. There would be no better way for me to keep my lungs workable and pliable, than the level of breathing used to sing.
Unfortunately for me, my own worst critic, and having been professionally trained, there is something called technique, which my current lung capacity has taken away from me. Musically, I still hit my notes, and for the most part, as clear and pleasant tone as I have always had. But in my head, I notice my technique is gone. Someone listening to me who has also been trained will likely notice it, those who are not, may not.
But singing has helped me keep my lung capacity as optimal as I can. And given the crisis that we are currently in, Covid19, and the impact the virus can have on the lungs, with this pre-existing condition (one of many I have for Covid19), it is critical that I do what I can to keep my lungs in the best shape I can. There are not may options for me if I get the virus and if impacts my lungs.
Keeping my lungs in shape recently has been difficult. With various health regulations and advisements against public gatherings, opportunities to sing in public are between few and none. Even karaoke, something I definitely enjoy, is not an option for me right now. Sure, there is singing in the shower and in the car, but it is not the same.
I must keep singing though. My lungs depend on it. I must keep music in my life. It is what gets me through. Music is more to me than just the notes. Music is life.