Human voices can be quite loud without the addition of any electronic amplification. Just think of the last time you heard a baby crying in a crowded, noisy store. Did it not penetrate your awareness and make you hope the parents would remove the baby as soon as possible? Babies are not self-conscious and when they are hurting they let us all know about it.
Most of us have been socialized not to yell in public and I am glad of that. But when we are in situations where loud singing is possible and desirable, such as group singing, or in private where no one can hear us and we are able to fully express ourselves, all that socialization can get in the way, and we don’t sing loud enough to hear ourselves or be heard. If we cannot hear ourselves well, we are much more likely to sing off-key, and that can be discouraging if we are trying to train our brains to recognize and match pitches. Singing loud enough to hear ourselves gives us the feedback to be able to change the pitch if we perceive it to be different from what the others are singing, or the record, or our internal memory of what it should sound like. If you are nervous about pitch, the tendency is to sing quietly so you will not disturb others. To get over that, practise singing loud when by yourself, even if it is wrong. It doesn’t matter. You will get better over time if you keep singing, and if you sing loud you will get better faster as you recognize your pitch errors more quickly.
The other part of singing loud in a group is to add your weight to the circle. When a few people are singing together and one or two are very quiet, it is like there is a hole on that side of the circle. Singing loud balances the sound among those present so we can feel each other’s presence, which is much more effective for community bonding. It can make the whole experience stronger for everyone. Just think of the last time you felt really good about singing a song in a group. Was it loud?
Once you have become comfortable singing loud, it is great to practise singing quietly as well, and this adds depth to the experience, individually and in groups. It also makes it possible to sing on the bus without bothering people. But until you can sing loud, the quiet stuff is not so useful or satisfying.
So sing loud!