One of the many things I see suggested to beginning voice talent is that they volunteer to read for the blind. Organizations like RFB&D help create and distribute content to those who cannot read or struggle to do so through no fault of their own. For the voice artist, it give you the chance to work on your chops, your characterization and your endurance, as well as giving you a chance to give back to the greater community.
I have not done this, but I wanted to let people know that what you do can have an enormous impact on people you don’t even know. This came to mind after an event I have been involved in the last few years. Here in the Charlotte area, The Havens, an Alzheimer’s and dementia home for the elderly, has asked me to come in and sing Christmas songs for the residents for the past 4 or 5 years. If you haven’t experienced what being around Alzheimer’s patients is like, it can be heartbreaking. Many times they move around in their own haze, or not at all. Even with the caring staff around them, they can be unresponsive. Those who are responsive often struggle to make sense of things around them, and comments can come out of the blue. One year I sang there, a little lady very earnestly discussed her little dog with me for 3 minutes, and abruptly turned away to speak on some new topic with a neighbor.
However off-putting it may seem to be, I try to make sure to do it every year. Because for those few minutes that I sing for them, I can see the impact for many almost immediately. Some sing along lustily, some merely murmur the words. And some just cry.
When I sing for them, I have learned that the most important choices I make for music are the ones that bring them memories. No unique Christmas tunes here: “White Christmas” never fails for the good people in the Havens. “Winter Wonderland,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and more of the all time favorites are the way to go. And I hear it from the families who come year after year that they appreciate having Mom or Dad hear those old songs at this time of year.
This is the impact you and your voice can have on those who need it the most. As a voice artist, you are already used to not having people leap to their feet in applause after your finest performance. Keep in mind that sometimes what you do with your voice affects people in very small, but still very important ways. Reading for those who cannot, singing for those who need it most, using your gift in the finest way possible. Especially this time of year.
So go ahead and start doing some reading or singing. For you, because it is always good for your soul. And for the people who need your gifts. Even those who cannot tell you they need it.