The Power of Song

Whiffs 2
Andrea here
, musing today about lifting the spirits in times of trouble. We writers are used to a more solitary daily routine than most people (and we tend to be introverts by nature) so the shelter-in-place restrictions that most of us are facing right are perhaps a little less disruptive. Nonetheless, the sense of isolation can feel daunting. I think a profound part of being human is the need for connection with others, especially friends and family.

Spizz 2There’s the physical connections—hugs, just holding hands—that so many of us of us miss. And voices. Many of us have been on the phone or video chats with our loved ones to share that bond. But what’s also struck me is how music—again, an elemental means of communicating that seems deeply ingrained in humanity—is a source of solace and a means of lifting the spirits. A lot of us have been sharing links to songs to create flickers of sunshine among the dark clouds.

I shared a very fun virtual concert with the Wenches the other day. It was by an a capella singing group from my alma mater, which has a wonderful heritage in this genre of unaccompanied singing. They loved it, so I thought I’d share a few links with you of these marvelous college students raising their voices in song, along with a little background on their singing groups.

Here is the virtual concert, by the Spizzwinks (?) of Yale University which inspired this post. It was all done remotely, which resonates even more right now. And what I love about it that it was was an alumni event, so the singers are of all ages. Music—especially a capella singing—is a big deal in undergraduate life. It's a popular extracurricular activity and there are a number of wonderful groups, for both underclassmen and seniors. I'm just going to highlight three "Firsts!" The Spizzwinks (?)—yes, the question mark is part of their name—are the oldest underclassman a capella group at Yale, founded in 1914. Their website has this to say: “Since 1914, we’ve entertained audiences around the world with our unique blend of sweet harmony and tongue-in-cheek humor.”

Spizz 1
The name follows the Whiffenpoof (more on them in a moment) tradition of creating a fanciful mythical beast as the namesake of the group. The name “Spizzwink” comes from a Midwest “legend” that the great Iowa corn blight of 1906 was caused by an insect called—you guessed it—the spizzwink! But however silly the name, I think you’ll agree that their sound is just beautiful.

Whiff formal

The Whiffenpoofs are oldest—and most prestigious—of the Yale a capella singing groups. They were founded in 1909, and it’s for seniors only Each year the best 14 singers of the senior class are tapped to continue the group's world-famous tradition. It’s a huge honor to be a “Whiff” They sing all around the world, and have serenaded presidents and heads of state throughout the years. Here’s a blurb from their website: “Today, the group has become one of Yale’s most celebrated traditions. Singing a mixture of old Yale tunes, jazz standards, and other hits from across the decades, the Whiffenpoofs perform more than 200 concerts across six continents each year.”

WhiffsNow, as women weren’t admitted as undergrads to Yale until 1969, the a capella tradition was always “men -only” for the Whiffs and many other groups. Most groups are now co-ed, however the Whiffs remained “men-only” for years because of “sound” reasons. But recently, the Whiffs made history by tapping their first female member. Some older alumni grumbled, but most everyone agrees they sound as marvelous as ever. You can hear them sing their own arrangement of the classic Beatles song, Got To Get You Into My Life here. (It seemed a perfect song for today!)

Yale-Whiffenpoofs-copyNow to the name—as their fame grew, the original singers decided they needed a group name. One of the members had recently heard a funny joke involving a mythical dragonfish called a whiffenpoof. They all thought it sufficiently whimsical (I have a feeling alcohol might have been involved in the decision) . . . and history was made.

Whim-formal

Whim 3In 1981, the women of Yale founded their own a capella senior singing group named Whim ‘n Rhythm. They are are now a grand Yale tradition too, and also tour all over the world. Here they are singing one of my favorite Indigo Girls songs. And here’s a link to a beautiful vocal called Songbird.

I hope you've enjoyed listening to these wonderful singers. Do you find that music lifts your spirits when you’re feeling a little blue? Have you been listening to more music recently? If so what’s your favorite genre?

90 thoughts on “The Power of Song”

  1. Andrea, it’s so very, very true that music lifts our hearts more than anything! (Though a minority claims chocolate is best for this. *G*) The Yale music traditions produce amazing music. Thanks so much for sharing–and such nice musical selections!

    Reply
  2. Andrea, it’s so very, very true that music lifts our hearts more than anything! (Though a minority claims chocolate is best for this. *G*) The Yale music traditions produce amazing music. Thanks so much for sharing–and such nice musical selections!

    Reply
  3. Andrea, it’s so very, very true that music lifts our hearts more than anything! (Though a minority claims chocolate is best for this. *G*) The Yale music traditions produce amazing music. Thanks so much for sharing–and such nice musical selections!

    Reply
  4. Andrea, it’s so very, very true that music lifts our hearts more than anything! (Though a minority claims chocolate is best for this. *G*) The Yale music traditions produce amazing music. Thanks so much for sharing–and such nice musical selections!

    Reply
  5. Andrea, it’s so very, very true that music lifts our hearts more than anything! (Though a minority claims chocolate is best for this. *G*) The Yale music traditions produce amazing music. Thanks so much for sharing–and such nice musical selections!

    Reply
  6. Oh yes, music is the best. My mother was one of 14 children growing up out in the country during the depression. Often they would spend the evening just singing together. It was the only entertainment they had.
    When I was a child and we would attend family reunions, it was never long before they would grab their guitars and banjos and whatever other instruments they could get their hands on, and start singing. Old songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing Andrea.

    Reply
  7. Oh yes, music is the best. My mother was one of 14 children growing up out in the country during the depression. Often they would spend the evening just singing together. It was the only entertainment they had.
    When I was a child and we would attend family reunions, it was never long before they would grab their guitars and banjos and whatever other instruments they could get their hands on, and start singing. Old songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing Andrea.

    Reply
  8. Oh yes, music is the best. My mother was one of 14 children growing up out in the country during the depression. Often they would spend the evening just singing together. It was the only entertainment they had.
    When I was a child and we would attend family reunions, it was never long before they would grab their guitars and banjos and whatever other instruments they could get their hands on, and start singing. Old songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing Andrea.

    Reply
  9. Oh yes, music is the best. My mother was one of 14 children growing up out in the country during the depression. Often they would spend the evening just singing together. It was the only entertainment they had.
    When I was a child and we would attend family reunions, it was never long before they would grab their guitars and banjos and whatever other instruments they could get their hands on, and start singing. Old songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing Andrea.

    Reply
  10. Oh yes, music is the best. My mother was one of 14 children growing up out in the country during the depression. Often they would spend the evening just singing together. It was the only entertainment they had.
    When I was a child and we would attend family reunions, it was never long before they would grab their guitars and banjos and whatever other instruments they could get their hands on, and start singing. Old songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing Andrea.

    Reply
  11. I almost always have music playing, even if only in the background to keep me calm. When I’m writing, it has to be music without words, or I get caught up in the lyrics, and most of the time I play music from my own collection. But lately, cooped up in the house, I’ve been playing WQXR (over the computer) because I feel the need of an occasional human voice. And their announcers have such soothing voices.

    Reply
  12. I almost always have music playing, even if only in the background to keep me calm. When I’m writing, it has to be music without words, or I get caught up in the lyrics, and most of the time I play music from my own collection. But lately, cooped up in the house, I’ve been playing WQXR (over the computer) because I feel the need of an occasional human voice. And their announcers have such soothing voices.

    Reply
  13. I almost always have music playing, even if only in the background to keep me calm. When I’m writing, it has to be music without words, or I get caught up in the lyrics, and most of the time I play music from my own collection. But lately, cooped up in the house, I’ve been playing WQXR (over the computer) because I feel the need of an occasional human voice. And their announcers have such soothing voices.

    Reply
  14. I almost always have music playing, even if only in the background to keep me calm. When I’m writing, it has to be music without words, or I get caught up in the lyrics, and most of the time I play music from my own collection. But lately, cooped up in the house, I’ve been playing WQXR (over the computer) because I feel the need of an occasional human voice. And their announcers have such soothing voices.

    Reply
  15. I almost always have music playing, even if only in the background to keep me calm. When I’m writing, it has to be music without words, or I get caught up in the lyrics, and most of the time I play music from my own collection. But lately, cooped up in the house, I’ve been playing WQXR (over the computer) because I feel the need of an occasional human voice. And their announcers have such soothing voices.

    Reply
  16. My father was a semi-professional singer (he had a chance to become professional, but education was his main love, and he stayed with that). My birth in 1927 was announced on his radio show the next day.
    I mention this because this background influenced the music in our house. Often one of his females was at the piano to accompany him as he prepared for a requested performance.
    But just as often the family just gathered around the piano and sang. We sang broadway, and hymns, and the truly old popular songs (like old oaken bucket) and we had a wonderful time.
    My sister and I joined church choirs and also the choirs in highschool and college. Our five chilldren followed that tradition (my three and her two) as did some of my great-grandchildren.

    Reply
  17. My father was a semi-professional singer (he had a chance to become professional, but education was his main love, and he stayed with that). My birth in 1927 was announced on his radio show the next day.
    I mention this because this background influenced the music in our house. Often one of his females was at the piano to accompany him as he prepared for a requested performance.
    But just as often the family just gathered around the piano and sang. We sang broadway, and hymns, and the truly old popular songs (like old oaken bucket) and we had a wonderful time.
    My sister and I joined church choirs and also the choirs in highschool and college. Our five chilldren followed that tradition (my three and her two) as did some of my great-grandchildren.

    Reply
  18. My father was a semi-professional singer (he had a chance to become professional, but education was his main love, and he stayed with that). My birth in 1927 was announced on his radio show the next day.
    I mention this because this background influenced the music in our house. Often one of his females was at the piano to accompany him as he prepared for a requested performance.
    But just as often the family just gathered around the piano and sang. We sang broadway, and hymns, and the truly old popular songs (like old oaken bucket) and we had a wonderful time.
    My sister and I joined church choirs and also the choirs in highschool and college. Our five chilldren followed that tradition (my three and her two) as did some of my great-grandchildren.

    Reply
  19. My father was a semi-professional singer (he had a chance to become professional, but education was his main love, and he stayed with that). My birth in 1927 was announced on his radio show the next day.
    I mention this because this background influenced the music in our house. Often one of his females was at the piano to accompany him as he prepared for a requested performance.
    But just as often the family just gathered around the piano and sang. We sang broadway, and hymns, and the truly old popular songs (like old oaken bucket) and we had a wonderful time.
    My sister and I joined church choirs and also the choirs in highschool and college. Our five chilldren followed that tradition (my three and her two) as did some of my great-grandchildren.

    Reply
  20. My father was a semi-professional singer (he had a chance to become professional, but education was his main love, and he stayed with that). My birth in 1927 was announced on his radio show the next day.
    I mention this because this background influenced the music in our house. Often one of his females was at the piano to accompany him as he prepared for a requested performance.
    But just as often the family just gathered around the piano and sang. We sang broadway, and hymns, and the truly old popular songs (like old oaken bucket) and we had a wonderful time.
    My sister and I joined church choirs and also the choirs in highschool and college. Our five chilldren followed that tradition (my three and her two) as did some of my great-grandchildren.

    Reply
  21. WQXR is wonderful isn’t it? They ought to bottle the voices of the announcers and sell as calming medicine!
    I can’t write to any music with words either. Way too distracting, as I always want sing along! Mozart and Handel are my go-to sounds, but also enjoy a range of other genres, like jazz and Celtic music.

    Reply
  22. WQXR is wonderful isn’t it? They ought to bottle the voices of the announcers and sell as calming medicine!
    I can’t write to any music with words either. Way too distracting, as I always want sing along! Mozart and Handel are my go-to sounds, but also enjoy a range of other genres, like jazz and Celtic music.

    Reply
  23. WQXR is wonderful isn’t it? They ought to bottle the voices of the announcers and sell as calming medicine!
    I can’t write to any music with words either. Way too distracting, as I always want sing along! Mozart and Handel are my go-to sounds, but also enjoy a range of other genres, like jazz and Celtic music.

    Reply
  24. WQXR is wonderful isn’t it? They ought to bottle the voices of the announcers and sell as calming medicine!
    I can’t write to any music with words either. Way too distracting, as I always want sing along! Mozart and Handel are my go-to sounds, but also enjoy a range of other genres, like jazz and Celtic music.

    Reply
  25. WQXR is wonderful isn’t it? They ought to bottle the voices of the announcers and sell as calming medicine!
    I can’t write to any music with words either. Way too distracting, as I always want sing along! Mozart and Handel are my go-to sounds, but also enjoy a range of other genres, like jazz and Celtic music.

    Reply
  26. I spent a whole day listening to the 2Cellos. Was not a classical music fan but they are changing my mind. Besides they are good looking – haha.

    Reply
  27. I spent a whole day listening to the 2Cellos. Was not a classical music fan but they are changing my mind. Besides they are good looking – haha.

    Reply
  28. I spent a whole day listening to the 2Cellos. Was not a classical music fan but they are changing my mind. Besides they are good looking – haha.

    Reply
  29. I spent a whole day listening to the 2Cellos. Was not a classical music fan but they are changing my mind. Besides they are good looking – haha.

    Reply
  30. I spent a whole day listening to the 2Cellos. Was not a classical music fan but they are changing my mind. Besides they are good looking – haha.

    Reply
  31. Music and song are something I need every day. I hum all the time much to the irritation of those around me – they hear it but I am usually unaware I am humming. I love baroque, Classical and Romantic periods for music. I love to hear and sing songs of all types. Country, early rock and roll, some big band sounds, Irish, Scottish and German folk songs. When living alone I need some sound in the house as I can only talk to my cat for so long.
    In my family we sang together, for the joy of it. My parents are German and taught us many of the old folk songs. I learned how to make my own versions of harmony.
    I put on music while I read, sometimes makes for an interesting mix of emotions.
    My favorite composer is Beethoven as he stirs my soul. So his music is often heard throughout the house.

    Reply
  32. Music and song are something I need every day. I hum all the time much to the irritation of those around me – they hear it but I am usually unaware I am humming. I love baroque, Classical and Romantic periods for music. I love to hear and sing songs of all types. Country, early rock and roll, some big band sounds, Irish, Scottish and German folk songs. When living alone I need some sound in the house as I can only talk to my cat for so long.
    In my family we sang together, for the joy of it. My parents are German and taught us many of the old folk songs. I learned how to make my own versions of harmony.
    I put on music while I read, sometimes makes for an interesting mix of emotions.
    My favorite composer is Beethoven as he stirs my soul. So his music is often heard throughout the house.

    Reply
  33. Music and song are something I need every day. I hum all the time much to the irritation of those around me – they hear it but I am usually unaware I am humming. I love baroque, Classical and Romantic periods for music. I love to hear and sing songs of all types. Country, early rock and roll, some big band sounds, Irish, Scottish and German folk songs. When living alone I need some sound in the house as I can only talk to my cat for so long.
    In my family we sang together, for the joy of it. My parents are German and taught us many of the old folk songs. I learned how to make my own versions of harmony.
    I put on music while I read, sometimes makes for an interesting mix of emotions.
    My favorite composer is Beethoven as he stirs my soul. So his music is often heard throughout the house.

    Reply
  34. Music and song are something I need every day. I hum all the time much to the irritation of those around me – they hear it but I am usually unaware I am humming. I love baroque, Classical and Romantic periods for music. I love to hear and sing songs of all types. Country, early rock and roll, some big band sounds, Irish, Scottish and German folk songs. When living alone I need some sound in the house as I can only talk to my cat for so long.
    In my family we sang together, for the joy of it. My parents are German and taught us many of the old folk songs. I learned how to make my own versions of harmony.
    I put on music while I read, sometimes makes for an interesting mix of emotions.
    My favorite composer is Beethoven as he stirs my soul. So his music is often heard throughout the house.

    Reply
  35. Music and song are something I need every day. I hum all the time much to the irritation of those around me – they hear it but I am usually unaware I am humming. I love baroque, Classical and Romantic periods for music. I love to hear and sing songs of all types. Country, early rock and roll, some big band sounds, Irish, Scottish and German folk songs. When living alone I need some sound in the house as I can only talk to my cat for so long.
    In my family we sang together, for the joy of it. My parents are German and taught us many of the old folk songs. I learned how to make my own versions of harmony.
    I put on music while I read, sometimes makes for an interesting mix of emotions.
    My favorite composer is Beethoven as he stirs my soul. So his music is often heard throughout the house.

    Reply
  36. My university-age son is back at home due to the virus. While I’ve heard countless tales of disgruntled families resenting the adjustment to wayward young adults suddenly back in the nest, my husband and I are rapturously counting our blessings. Said son (who is also in an a cappella group at his school) is spending the time he’s not studying or hanging out online with friends playing the piano. He plays old classics, he plays contemporary music while singing – either in English or in French, he composes, and he’s decided to challenge himself during this period of physical imprisonment by learning Bach’s Goldberg Variations. These troubled times will leave scars for generations, but there are also innumerable blessings.

    Reply
  37. My university-age son is back at home due to the virus. While I’ve heard countless tales of disgruntled families resenting the adjustment to wayward young adults suddenly back in the nest, my husband and I are rapturously counting our blessings. Said son (who is also in an a cappella group at his school) is spending the time he’s not studying or hanging out online with friends playing the piano. He plays old classics, he plays contemporary music while singing – either in English or in French, he composes, and he’s decided to challenge himself during this period of physical imprisonment by learning Bach’s Goldberg Variations. These troubled times will leave scars for generations, but there are also innumerable blessings.

    Reply
  38. My university-age son is back at home due to the virus. While I’ve heard countless tales of disgruntled families resenting the adjustment to wayward young adults suddenly back in the nest, my husband and I are rapturously counting our blessings. Said son (who is also in an a cappella group at his school) is spending the time he’s not studying or hanging out online with friends playing the piano. He plays old classics, he plays contemporary music while singing – either in English or in French, he composes, and he’s decided to challenge himself during this period of physical imprisonment by learning Bach’s Goldberg Variations. These troubled times will leave scars for generations, but there are also innumerable blessings.

    Reply
  39. My university-age son is back at home due to the virus. While I’ve heard countless tales of disgruntled families resenting the adjustment to wayward young adults suddenly back in the nest, my husband and I are rapturously counting our blessings. Said son (who is also in an a cappella group at his school) is spending the time he’s not studying or hanging out online with friends playing the piano. He plays old classics, he plays contemporary music while singing – either in English or in French, he composes, and he’s decided to challenge himself during this period of physical imprisonment by learning Bach’s Goldberg Variations. These troubled times will leave scars for generations, but there are also innumerable blessings.

    Reply
  40. My university-age son is back at home due to the virus. While I’ve heard countless tales of disgruntled families resenting the adjustment to wayward young adults suddenly back in the nest, my husband and I are rapturously counting our blessings. Said son (who is also in an a cappella group at his school) is spending the time he’s not studying or hanging out online with friends playing the piano. He plays old classics, he plays contemporary music while singing – either in English or in French, he composes, and he’s decided to challenge himself during this period of physical imprisonment by learning Bach’s Goldberg Variations. These troubled times will leave scars for generations, but there are also innumerable blessings.

    Reply
  41. Music really it a source of joy, isn’t it. I’m eclectic in my taste too. Beethoven is a great favorite, as is Haydn and Mozart. But I love rock, and folk and Celtic, jazz . . .really, most anything. I wish I had a better voice. I like to sing, and can carry a tune, but have a lousy range.

    Reply
  42. Music really it a source of joy, isn’t it. I’m eclectic in my taste too. Beethoven is a great favorite, as is Haydn and Mozart. But I love rock, and folk and Celtic, jazz . . .really, most anything. I wish I had a better voice. I like to sing, and can carry a tune, but have a lousy range.

    Reply
  43. Music really it a source of joy, isn’t it. I’m eclectic in my taste too. Beethoven is a great favorite, as is Haydn and Mozart. But I love rock, and folk and Celtic, jazz . . .really, most anything. I wish I had a better voice. I like to sing, and can carry a tune, but have a lousy range.

    Reply
  44. Music really it a source of joy, isn’t it. I’m eclectic in my taste too. Beethoven is a great favorite, as is Haydn and Mozart. But I love rock, and folk and Celtic, jazz . . .really, most anything. I wish I had a better voice. I like to sing, and can carry a tune, but have a lousy range.

    Reply
  45. Music really it a source of joy, isn’t it. I’m eclectic in my taste too. Beethoven is a great favorite, as is Haydn and Mozart. But I love rock, and folk and Celtic, jazz . . .really, most anything. I wish I had a better voice. I like to sing, and can carry a tune, but have a lousy range.

    Reply
  46. What an amazingly talented young man, Margaret! (I’m coming to visit!) And how lovely to have his beautiful music to fill your house (and heart) in this time of stress. One looks for silver linings to the pandemic, and stories like yours-—families forming closer bonds–is one of them. Enjoy!

    Reply
  47. What an amazingly talented young man, Margaret! (I’m coming to visit!) And how lovely to have his beautiful music to fill your house (and heart) in this time of stress. One looks for silver linings to the pandemic, and stories like yours-—families forming closer bonds–is one of them. Enjoy!

    Reply
  48. What an amazingly talented young man, Margaret! (I’m coming to visit!) And how lovely to have his beautiful music to fill your house (and heart) in this time of stress. One looks for silver linings to the pandemic, and stories like yours-—families forming closer bonds–is one of them. Enjoy!

    Reply
  49. What an amazingly talented young man, Margaret! (I’m coming to visit!) And how lovely to have his beautiful music to fill your house (and heart) in this time of stress. One looks for silver linings to the pandemic, and stories like yours-—families forming closer bonds–is one of them. Enjoy!

    Reply
  50. What an amazingly talented young man, Margaret! (I’m coming to visit!) And how lovely to have his beautiful music to fill your house (and heart) in this time of stress. One looks for silver linings to the pandemic, and stories like yours-—families forming closer bonds–is one of them. Enjoy!

    Reply

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