By James Worsdale
For practitioners of this sometimes poorly received habit, serious scientific studies have linked singing in the shower with higher levels of happiness and self-esteem. For instance, there’s no cure like humming along to Usher’s “My Boo” while lathering for those Monday blues. So what’s a Broadway baby with a song in her heart to do when she’s got the craving to croon but has roommates to take into account?? Tragically, many New Yorkers don’t have the luxury of a private bathroom in which to sing their hearts out. Herewith, some basic guidelines on how to practice shower singing considerately and most enjoyably for all parties:
Notice time of day and volume.
This is perhaps the most obvious tip and one of the most common hurdles I have faced as a lifelong shower singer. When I was in middle school, I remember my Dad explaining to me that though he appreciated my patriotism, he didn’t exactly love that 6 a.m. high C in the “Star Spangled Banner” when he had just gotten home from the night shift. Courtesy is the paramount principle of cohabitation and that goes for shower singing as well.
Feel out reactions the first time and follow suit from there.
A trick that I like to determine if roommates appreciate or resent my harmonious hygiene sessions: when you come out of the shower after a full set (generally, three to four songs), act surprised that anyone was home and pretend to be embarrassed. “Oh my God, how humiliating! Had I known anyone was here, I never would’ve busted out that Boyz II Men ballad! I’m SO sorry!” And if they protest, “What?! What are you TALKING about? You sounded soooooo good!” then you know it’s okay! But if they agree, (which has never happened to me) then they don’t know real talent but in the future you should probably refrain if anyone’s home.
Song selection matters.
If you know the length of songs, you can use them as barometers for the length of your shower sessions. For example, in high school, I knew that the Something Corporate song, “Konstantine,” was about ten minutes long. This became a great way of knowing when I had been in the shower for too long. If I can make it through, “Konstantine,” twice, then it’s definitely time to get out. Mostly just sing what makes you feel good. If your roommates don’t hold it against you that you’re singing in the shower in the first place, then they’re not going to mind that you’re screeching, “Oh Holy Night” in the middle of August, either. That being said, remember that this isn’t an American Idol audition. Clive Davis is not going to be banging down your bathroom door offering you a recording contract because of your moving interpretation of, “You’re So Vain.” Do not go for the gold in the Olympics of vocal gymnastics, nobody wants to live with someone who’s constantly emulating Jenna Maroney.
If you or your roommates have guests, probably refrain.
This is an extension of the first rule, but don’t embarrass your roommates just because you don’t get embarrassed yourself. A side note on this rule: if you are the houseguest, definitely refrain. I was once taking care of my friend’s golden retriever in college while he was on vacation in Florida and I got out of the shower after having nailed it on the key change in Whitney Houston’s, “I Have Nothing” only to learn that his very surprised roommate had come home halfway through.
I have three current and many more former roommates who would be quick to observe the irony in my scribing this guide. I regularly warble through my showers with personal arrangements of Cher, Usher, Jewel and other one-named musical acts. But I’m mindful of my manners in practicing this pastime so as to not piss off my cohabitants or run up our water bill. Remember: when there are roommates to consider some shower activities are strictly verboten. Singing in the shower does not have to be one of them.
James Worsdale is a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident and an aspiring subway performer. By that, he means, he hopes one day to be able to book a recurring gig at the fast food sandwich shop. He hopes his insight on successfully practicing shower singing without sacrificing harmony in your household is somewhat useful.