My parents were lucky enough to Host Mr. C and his wonderful band members-Krina (Keyboardist), Juarde (Drummer), Dave (Bass guitar) & Junji (guitarist) during the RCS Australian tour in Sydney at Castle Hill, November 13th 2009.
I found Mr. C so humble and down to earth. He is an Icon in the Philippines, a living legend who has greatly influenced and shaped Filipino music and culture.
The concert was Amazing! The RCS (Ryan Cayabyab Singers) voices blended beautifully yet individually had their own unique sounds, style and tones that made their solo parts captivating.
Apart from their voices the simple and effective choreography was top-notch. Their coordinated costumes looked so stylish and oozed elegant simplicity.
I finally got the courage to ask Mr. C if he could answer a few questions for my blog. Hope you all enjoy his answers. I certainly did.
HI there Tina. I will try to answer your questions as best as I can.
But before that, I wish to thank you and most specially your dad and Mom for taking us into your house, I worry much though because I think we made such a mess of your otherwise clean and well-kept house!!!!
Your mom cooks very well, and both your mom and dad are so much fun to talk and exchange stories with.
Here are my answers:
1. Your daughter Krina toured with you in Sydney and is part of your band. How did you introduce her to music and at what age? And what did you do to help encourage her to pursue her music career.
Krina had seen me do my work (arranging, writing new music) at the piano since she could walk, or since she could remember. We noticed that she already had a good ear as a kid, she was in tune every time she sings and her natural tones were always ‘placed’ – no chest tones, no throaty sounds emanated from her as a kid, she had a naturally placed voice. We let her take piano lessons as soon as she turned three (same with my son) because as music educators, both Emmy (my wife) and I believe that early music education helps children grow up to become good, productive citizens – of course this does not manifest itself immediately, but as the person grows, because the discipline instilled in learning a musical skill is deeply ingrained. We have seen it in Krina; we also see it in Toma (our 18 year old son).
Discipline here doesn’t mean a certain rigidity in time and schedules, and in the military sense of discipline but more of a natural learning mechanism or method that supports the adage ‘pratice makes perfect’.
We all know what it means when we say practice makes perfect. But the end effect of this mantra is that the result makes for a satisfying feeling, a reward in itself.
We did not push Krina into a music career, it was her own decision. Let me give you an example of how we tried to discourage her early on.
When she was in grade school she wanted so much to join their year level singing competitions. We told her not to join – not because we just didn’t want her to join, but because she wouldn’t win this kind of competitions. Singing competitions in our country always focuses on the ‘birit’ or power singing – the louder and the higher the voice, the better the chance of winning. She wouldn’t win in this competition because Krina’s natural voice is not loud, and although hers was a soprano range, her voice quality was crystalline – pure and cherubic!
One day she came home from school (she was in grade two) she was crying so hard and we asked her why. She said she joined the singing competition (without our knowledge) and she didn’t win. It was such a heartbreaking moment. I think she was crying more because we told her before not to join any singing competition…
She joined again the next year. She lost again. But by the time she was in Grade 4 or 5, she finally won! Hurray! But we never knew how she did it, because we never encouraged her anyway! (We surmised that 1. Her main competitors in the past didn’t join any more; 2. She picked a better song to sing; 3. Her personality is such that she doesn’t stop until she gets what she wants…and that practice makes perfect)
Today she heads an all female jazz trio as music director, arranger and lead soprano. They do gigs in various music outlets – pubs, corporate events, and university functions. Plus, she will march next year
With a bachelor’s degree in music, major in choral conducting, summa cum laude at the University of the Philippines College of Music.
Did we influence her? Not consciously, but more like she imbibed it naturally – just by listening and observing. Just the way I did it as a child living in a house with ten lady boarders taking up music, and with a mother who was an opera singer (my dad wasn’t musical at all!), and with siblings who love to sing and play music.
2. What advice can you give to parents who want to introduce music to their children?
From the above (answer to #1) – it should be evident that either one of the parents must love music, must indulge in it, must be involved with music making, or must be a music lover of the first degree. When young children are taught music via the Suzuki method; the parents are required to do follow through exercises at home.
But I have heard other musicians who grew up with parents who are not musical at all. Life is a mystery.
3. Are there any reading resources or music that you would recommend to any parent, singing teacher or performer?
None that I can think of at the moment. But I think parents should research on music methods that they can be comfortable with for their children.
By the way, my two children attended a pre-school that had a very strong music program, involving various music education methods (Kodaly, Orff, etc) and very active music teachers who were very influential in shaping their musical skills. (By the way, Emmy and I never attempted to teach our children piano or voice – they had to be taught by other teachers in our music school. Eventually, our son Toma learned not only piano, but also voice, drums and guitar. He is not going to be a musician but his training in music will be a source of inspiration, or a source from where he can relate to abstract structures vis a vis every-day routines and realities)
4. What are you listening to on your Ipod or CD player at the moment?
None. I try not to listen to as much music as possible because as a music writer, it is difficult not to be influenced by what one hears. I did listen much to music before, through my formative, educational years. A lot of classical or serious music is inside my head and when I listen to them being played I connect right away. Same with other genres of music.
5. You mentioned in your Sydney concert that your last composition was your tribute to “Vegemite” for your Australian tour-which was perfect by the way-do you have any more plans to compose more songs in the near future?
I regularly write music for recordings, commercials, institutional, film, TV and theater. The experience I had tasting vegemite inspired me to write the song. It is supposed to be a novelty song.
6. Now that you have arrived home from Sydney, What is your next project?
I have a concert with Piolo Pascual (a Filipino multi-media artist) on Nov. 28, and the ABS-CBN annual Christmas Specials on Dec. 11. There are other gigs and commissions in between. That means a lot of writing
music materials, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing…until we perfect the songs.
And lucky last
7. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Be the best in whatever you do, be an authority – and everything else follows. (And to be the best, one has to learn the ropes, learn everything about your career choice…plus, you must love what it is you are doing)
Again, thanks for the hospitality and give my best to Mom, Dad, Rob and Christian.
Thank you Mr. C for your inspiration and for bringing beautiful music into our lives!
Were you inspired too? Leave a comment below
Musically yours Tina