One of my favorite Tri Sigma memories from college involved singing as a group. It seemed like we were always singing, it was practically Tri Sigma the Musical. We would sing during Recruitment, during meetings, or just impromptu anywhere. Some of the songs were sentimental and sweet, while others were just plain silly, but no matter what the tune I always felt better after singing with my sisters.
Current research now backs up what I suspected all along, that group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins (Stacy Horn, Time). So you can imagine my surprise at learning that Sigmas just do not sing like they used to. Case in point, at Tri Sigma’s last convention in Orlando, a few of us older Alumnae attempted to initiate singing during a break between sessions. This was a time-honored tradition, but when we broke into song our actions were met with a collective eye roll. Have Tri Sigmas lost their voice? I confess that I was… disappointed.
Following our spurned sing along, Alumnae more involved with the collegiate chapters explained that the younger generation would rather chant than sing. Now as a former cheerleader, I can appreciate a good chant as well as the next Sigma, but isn’t there room for both?
This reluctance to sing as a group is not unique to Tri Sigma; it seems to be a growing trend throughout our culture. In the past, before sporting events, those in attendance would sing our National Anthem together. Now it is more common for the crowd to merely stand at attention and listen while someone sings for the audience. I have also noticed this trend in a few church services that I recently attended. These were mega churches, which featured talented singers and musicians that performed throughout the service. During these programs, I felt more like a member of an audience rather than a congregation. Although, I realize these churches offer tremendous advantages to their members, should they be moving away from something that researchers are beginning to discover is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits (Stacy Horn, Time)?
As Stacy Horn concluded in her article, Singing Changes Your Brain, Time August 16, 2013, group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed. So why not pull out your chapter’s copy of The Songs Sigma Sing, and discover for yourselves the fun of a Sigma sing along. Better yet, as the holidays approach, take some time to go caroling around your campus community. I am planning to attend our convention in Chicago this June, and I am hoping to hear some young voices joining the old ones this time, as we celebrate our glorious sisterhood together.
Jacqulyn King (Alpha Phi) is a retired high school Library Media Specialist, and she and her husband Mark divide their time between homes in Michigan and Florida. She belongs to the West Michigan, Central Michigan and Southwest Florida Alumnae chapters. Her blog Confessions of a Sigmaholic runs the third Tuesday of every month.