As I have said, I have been a choir director for more than two decades already. Over the years I have gained some expertise on the field of choral direction; and to think that I did not have any formal training in whatever aspect of this career I found myself in. Let me tell you how I happened to be here.
I remember as a child I was always mesmerized by the church organist in the church where we attend the Sunday worship services. I would sit there and anticipate the singing part of the worship. Then with eagle’s eyes (I think), I would watch the very beautiful lady organist as she walks over to the Hammond organ and do her thing. If I were to compare her to any local movie star, she looked like Phoemela Barranda of TV Patrol, Entertainment newscaster. In fact, even a bit better looking. I can still recall the aesthetics of those sounds that were somewhat embedded in my subconscious.
Beyond our means, we never acquired any musical instrument in our home. But when I was about ten, my parents opened our home to be a mission house church, or a daughter church as is called nowadays. The sending church provided a manually-pedaled organ where the organists do just that, pedal, using both feet to produce sound. And then I realized that I can play oido (by ear). I would simply review a song in my head, and then try to find the right melody on the keys. As I did, I was able to hear, in my head a second note travelling with the one I was imagining. I reckoned this must be the way the organist play different notes simultaneously. Through trial and error, I managed to play two notes at the same time, one on each hand.
You will never guess what happened. I have a very persistent mother who would always push me to do things beyond my capacity. Because there was no one to play the instrument, my mother would coerce me to play during the worship service. I refused quite vehemently, but the mom had a way with me. I cannot escape her determination to make me play. And at times, everything surprisingly falls into place. I found out later that all I can play was a set of chords in the key of C, nothing else. Thus I play all songs in that key. There are times the small congregation cannot reach the range of the key. Nowadays, amused, I remember the young pastor as he tried to sing through the high-pitched songs. Luckily, he can really sing, so he can improvise and make everything appear alright.
Through the years, I nourished that desire to really play the piano. I guess that somehow, several years later, and several houses later (we lived in seven houses in all my entire life), and thus, several churches later, our church pastor, the Rev. Genovevo Lubaton (in our final church where we have been attending since 1978, what do you know, it’s been thirty years!) noticed I have some raw musical talent. His daughter Jasmin, who was a year or two years my junior, gave me free piano lessons during weekends. There slowly, I finally got my hands on true music theory, thanks to the good pastor and his daughter; and my church, who gave my piano tutor transportation allowance to attend to me. For about five months I was guided by this young lady until it had to end as they migrated to the States (US), and guess what, I was left with the responsibility of providing music for the church(can you believe that?). Left with my third grade John Thompson book, I tried to study by myself the rest of the book. Upon finishing it, I got me a hand-me-down fourth grade piano book which I painstakingly self-studied.
I played during worship, and prayer meetings, and other church fellowships. I was thankful every time a transient Seminary student would stay with the church and help out in the handling of our church’s music. They were many; and I sincerely thank them all. Today, thank God, our church has at least four pianists, that is, if I would pass for one.
My choral stint is another story altogether which would eat a good amount of bytes. Maybe you guessed by now that I have been a willing victim to some vicious cycle where I get to be pushed into jobs I hesitantly accept anyway. People have a knack of giving me huge responsibilities I never knew I could afford to carry; many thanks to the grace of the Lord. I guess it’s my destiny. So I guess you have to be back to read all about it. Regards.