"The human voice is unquestionably the most expressive musical instrument," said author Neil Gaiman in a Nov. 30 National Public Radio interview. He was referring to the nuanced ability of the voice to enliven text. Gaiman advocates reading aloud and records audio books. But this is about more than speech. Add music and you get an enormous range of possibility.

Many of us take the voice for granted. This has led to vocalists sometimes being viewed as non-musicians. We can join a choir at any stage of life and be successful, where picking up an instrument has a much steeper learning curve. The voice is the most accessible instrument. It's free and we are always "practicing" it. It is natural. It is innate. Almost anyone can learn to sing. Those who think they can't were probably told so by an unkind person when young; but more than 90 percent of the population can sing, and learn to sing well with motivation and guidance.

New York Voices will be here on Wednesday. This group is outstanding at showing what the voice can do. Yes, they are talented. They've also worked to get where they are, the top of the vocal jazz world. Our kids, the Astoria High School Port City Singers, will open for NYV. I hope you will come support our young singers and the Voices. Maybe you'll be inspired to do a little voice experimentation yourself.

REBECCA PIERCE

Astoria

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