This evening I had the priveledge of volunteering at The Village Nursing Home Casino Night. A friend of mine laughed at the thought of me “drinking and gambling with a bunch of old people.” Well, they don’t drink anything other than juice, and it’s not really gambling (more like the random allocation of miscellaneous donated “prizes”), but I was there as a volunteer worker, handing out chips and prizes and just talking with different residents. However, Jane, the woman who runs Casino Night, heard me singing along with someone else who’d been asked to sing, and next think I know, I’m standing in the middle of the room singing half the score of OKLAHOMA! I have to say, it was one of the most gratifying “performances” of my entire life. My voice was shaky with nerves and I forgot a few lyrics; those residents didn’t care. I didn’t give a single thought to my technique, and yet I feel I have truly accomplished something this evening — I made a few people happy. I’m high on my own selfishness, excited about all the compliments and gratified to be asked to return, but I know it’s true: This is what it’s all about. This is the power of music. If that sounds clichĂ©, so be it. Screw the Broadway industry; tonight I remembered that music is still the language of my soul. I feel like I’ve found my voice again. I don’t want to sell music. I want to give it, share it, lavish it upon others. I don’t want to fight tooth and nail, perfect myself, my craft, my art, hone my talents and claw my way into a Tony, a Grammy, a CMA, or even a Dove award nomination. I want to help others find their voices. I want to soothe and empower with melody and harmony, voice and instrument, creating and listening.
This must be why people volunteer.