Skills Insight of the Day #7 – Singing

Should singing be a job skill requirement?

It’s a few days before Christmas and Christmas songs are everywhere for the next few weeks. When I was in elementary school, we had to sing Christmas carols in December and Happy Birthday throughout the year. I still sing – I mean lip sync – the birthday song.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know I would be learning a life skill when I learned the words to Happy Birthday. I’ve sung it a thousand times by now at celebrations for family members, friends, and classmates, and I’ve heard it at my own birthday. When school was finished, I sang it at work for coworkers.

Singing is a useful skill to have. If you’re on a road trip, it brightens the mood when you and your coworkers can sing to some tunes. If your first job is babysitting, singing to children is a job saver. Humming to tunes while at your desk (back when working at the office was popular pre-COVID) was also useful. The coworker who hummed seemed pleasant and approachable.

At one point, I had an Asian boss, and if you’re familiar with karaoke and Asian culture, you know what’s next. I found myself listening to coworkers and the boss blasting karaoke songs in a room one birthday party evening.

I discovered that my coworkers (whether they were Asian or not) sounded like professional singers, maybe because of the electronic equipment that enhanced your voice. More likely they sounded pro because they karaoke a lot. They flipped through the song list with the familiarity of someone looking for dishes in their own kitchen.

It was karaoke again when friends from one of my business groups chose singing to be our skill of choice for a talent show. So I found myself lip syncing again, hiding my ugly truth from everyone. An Asian who can’t sing but pretends to is probably the most awkward kind of Asian. I’ve heard Asian friends who love karaoke and aren’t ashamed to sing off key. That’s not me.

Over a lifetime, I’ve perfected the skill of pretending to sing. When you’re in a small group singing Happy Birthday, the ability to lip sync is tested to the extreme. The secret is to stand next to someone with a booming voice. (Like a little fish swimming under the protection of a giant fish.)

Back to the original question. Should singing be a job skill requirement? Maybe, maybe not. It does have its advantages. At the very least, you should be able to sing Happy Birthday.

What do you think about singing as a life skill? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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