I was at a party a few years ago where the people split into two groups - the ones who were happily singing around a piano and the ones who were hiding in the kitchen, aghast that people would sing, in public, for fun. The split was clearly generational in nature - the older folks had clearly grown up singing together, the younger ones considered singing to be something that was done by musicians.
And despite theoretically belonging to the second group I've generally felt that this was a bad thing. My parents used to sing on long car journeys, entertaining us when we were little, and it always seemed like a lot of fun. I can trace the point where I lost any interest in it to my first choir lesson in school, where we all lined up in rows and sang through something vaguely religious - and then afterwards the choirmaster told me that I should just mime along. This would have been twenty six years ago, but the memory still sticks with me.
The idea that a pupil who wasn't good at something should be told to just _stop_ is something that shocks me in retrospect - it's a massive failure on the behalf of any teacher. And the idea that singing is something that should be done only by the trained - rather than a natural expression of our humanity is also something that bothers me deeply.
There does seem to have been a resurgence recently - things like YouTube and Singstar/Rock Band seem to have encouraged people to put their own voice out there in the same way that blogs encouraged people to write. But I doubt very much that we're going to end up back at the point where sing-songs around the piano are common place again.
Mind you - a lot of this is probably down to the fact that playing Grand Theft Auto is a more distracting and, dare I say it, fun way of spending the evening :->
All of this triggered by a quote here
in an article on the long history of articles decrying technical progress in the "content industry" - starting with Sousa (the composer) worrying about the player piano and the gramophone:
"Under such conditions, the tide of amateurism cannot but recede until there will be left only the mechanical device and the professional executant.