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Saturday, September 9, 2006

God's Gift of Music

"you know i can’t smile without you. i can’t smile without you. i can’t laugh and i can’t sing, finding it hard to do anything!" that’s my favorite song when i was in 2nd grade. that’s also my audition song sana that time… kaya lang, my folks advised me to dance instead =( sob!

i was a very terrible singer back then. i also remember, when we were taught mass songs in grade school and high school, our teacher politely asks me to keep my volume low so as not to disturb the others. geesh! what happened to the ’sing to God’ encouragement thing?

my spirits are really dampened. you see, i really love singing. but, as they say, singing doesn’t love me. so i tried dancing, but that’s another story…

back in grade school and high school, we always have music classes. and because i really dreamt of becoming a rockstar someday (idol ko si jett pangan. nag-shave din ako ng eyebrows! kwento ko next time…), i worked my way learning how to read notes, even if i don’t know how to sing them. just imagine the face of my music teachers everytime we have recitals… you will really pity them when i sing my heart out, i promise!

in an effort to develop our passion for singing (i really thought i was a hopeless case), i remember our music teachers taught us to vocalize. as in… miiiiiyoooooooohhhhh! (piano goes a note higher… dun dun) miiiiiyoooooooohhhhh! i said to myself ‘hey jet, this is your opportunity to learn singing! so sing to the top of your lungs!’ but then again, i saw my teacher nearly call it quits.

i was really hoping my music teachers will teach us how to play a musical instrument like piano or guitar, to at least give those who can’t sing an opportunity to participate actively in music classes. guess what they taught us? a flute! ok jet, forget it! be mediocre again, its way out of your league, man!

so my level of love for music during my formative years was limited to listening to almost all types of music from ballad (basil valdez is my all time favorite), to rock (guns and roses, the dawn!), rap (candyman, snoop doggy dog, andrew e), heavy metal (metallica), grunge (nirvana, rage against the machine, red hot chilli pepper), rnb (bobby brown, milli vanilli), jazz, etc etc etc. pero like an addict, i sometimes ’sneak’ in the bathroom to try my luck in singing… ganda kasi ng reverb eh, hehehe =) kaya lang wala talaga, pati ako convinced, hopeless case nga ako sa singing…

when i joined yfc, i was again encouraged to ’sing to God.’ in order not to ‘disturb’ the others in praise and worship, i kept my volume low, sweetly singing my praises to Him. i really meant every line i sing to the Lord, for i was singing from my heart. and knowing that when i sing my praises, i was actually praying twice, as what st augustine says.

during an overnight planning session with my brothers from san beda, we have thought of assessing ourselves: our strengths and our weaknesses. God made us realize the importance of music in our lives. that it is a gift from Him, for us to beautifully praise and worship Him! God is so good! He actually equips us with the essential things we need as His creation, for us to do the work He entrusted to us.

but we have a problem. we don’t know how to play a single musical instrument. some of us are even terrible singers (and i’m on the top of the list!). great! now who will play the guitar in case no one is available during assemblies? or missions? or prayer meetings? anxiety… anxiety… anxiety…

in my prayer time that night, i borrowed the guitar and songbook. my brothers were like shocked and had a thought balloon ‘what is jet gonna do with those?’ above their heads. i didn’t mind them, and allowed the Spirit to lead me as i pray. i talked to God, told Him ‘You know how much i love music. and You know very well how much i love to sing. i now ask You my Lord, please teach me how to use this thing to create music for You. i know you will be pleased. i just want to glorify You in everything that i do. and for me to learn to at least play this thing at the beginner level and hopefully sing correctly will surely be a big miracle that i will use only for You my Lord.’

after a while, i started turning the pages of the big blue glory songbook from the back cover. i saw the chord chart. so what’s a chord chart? (i only know notes!) then i continued turning the pages. saw exodus 15 (song number 222, even in the red glory songbook. i don’t know in the rainbow edition, hanapin nyo na lang, alphabetical naman eh, hehehe…) it was the song of moses. i know how to sing it, but i don’t know if i actually sing it correctly (in the right tune, that is!). saw that it only had three chords (d, c, and g) and immediately referred to the songbook. got a leading from the Spirit to just do what the others do when they play the guitar, follow the chord chart and the songbook, and strumm one at a time…

here it goes… (strumm d…) the Lord… (strumm c…) is my strength… (strumm g…) and my song…

voila! i was singing in my prayer! i know in my human standards, it was poor. but i know God was so pleased with the gift He gave me to use, to bless Him back. so i persevered to learn just the basics of the guitar. and i learned best during my prayer time. i found myself singing at the same time.

was that it? nope! when God blesses you, He blesses you abundantly! (keep that in mind, ok?)

when i joined sfc, i was asked by a sister (hold your horses! she’s one of our elders, hulaan nyo kung sino… clue… bestfriend ko yung 2nd daughter niya…) to join the christmas caroling group. i told her i was a terrible singer. she said ‘hindi naman ah?’ i said to myself ‘maybe she has hearing problems?’ hehehe =)

so did i join? unfortunately, i didn’t make it. why? did i fail the audition? nope. i was just too busy with stuff that time, that i can’t attend the practices. but i joined one of the caroling sessions. they’re good! awesome, actually! then what am i doing here? i’m not that good. maybe the sister was just being polite (actually, i have this funny feeling up to now that she really was just being polite, hehehe).

after the christmas season, the group thought of forming a church choir. i was again invited, but really, i was hesitant to join. yes there are practices, but is the sister really serious in her invite? ok i gave in to the invitation. in our first meeting, an expert was invited and we were first grouped according to our voices (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). i asked if i could be bass? hold your horse, jet! they need to check you out first. uh oh! bahala na!

so we were asked to vocalize like the miiiiiyoooooooohhhhh! was actually praying at the same time that time. was singing quietly at first. i was told to make it a little louder (yikes! they’ll gonna kick me out! bahala na talaga!) was singing low notes… then getting higher… higher… then higher… so the verdict? baritone daw! pareho kami nina kuya sel and aldy (pati looks namin, pare-pareho malakas ang appeal! hehehe). tone deaf din siya siguro, or maybe polite din (low confidence talaga!).

so from one choir practice and service to another, i learned to sing. and i’m progressing, huh! the songs by my standard are getting difficult, but we all believed that we need to do it well, to bring the people who are attending the mass, into praise and worship.

‘isang dalaga ang maglilihi, batang lalaki ang sanggol…’ my first crack to sing solo… solo?! yep! the sister made me sing the solo part (after several please please please hehehe. i told her, in the spirit of christmas naman eh). was really tensed before. but my choirmates really supported me all the way. some say ang guapo daw ng voice ko… some are teasing me… but that’s God’s way to make me feel confident. and i again knew in my heart He was pleased!

then i was leading the music ministry. the once terrible singer, now teaching the songs in front, leading God’s people into praise and worship.

what a miracle! you see, i once had a problem (a pre-requisite for a miracle) and i asked God to bless me, and i cooperated by allowing Him to work through me, and He blessed me, His will happened! praise God! praise God!

‘i will sing forever of Your love, oh Lord. i will celebrate the wonder of Your Name. for the word that You speak is a song of forgiveness, and a song of gentle mercy and of peace.’


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