Monday, November 3, 2008

my music story and the maestra. Part I

My first musical recollection was at age 3. Perhaps noone will believe me if I'd tell them that I still remember that moment. My older sister Mcel was playing the piano with both her hands, and I was fascinated at the sight & the beautiful sound she was producing. I thought it was easy, and I could do it.

I tried imitating her on my piano toy. I don't think it came close, but during one of the visits of her piano teacher Mrs. Conde, the old lady saw instantly a musical child in me. Of course, I was too young. Piano teachers have this unwritten rule that the child should at least know how to distinguish A from B, before they could take her in as a student.

The old lady did not wait long. She said, I was too special. So when I was 4 , my first piano lesson began.

I still remember that day. A woman ushered me in to a dark living room. There was a lifesized picture that looked more like a painting, hanging above her pre-war upright piano. Later on, I found out that that woman in the picture is Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

The place had a musty odor, and there were music sheets laying everywhere. The maestra was sitting on a table, and was writing. She was oblivious and was obviously in the middle of something. The woman almost whispering, informed the maestra about my arrival.

The maestra immediately stood up and gave me a beautiful warm smile. She asked Iyay, the woman who let me in, to prepare something for me. The maestra then asked me to play something for her. I can´t recall what I played, but I remember her smiling after I finished the piece. She took out a piano book and taught me how to read notes. And that´s how it all started.

The maestra literally took me under her wing. I was not just the favored one, I was the favorite. I was her musical child. All her advanced students knew about me. They refered to me as the espesyal na batit or the `gifted child.´

The maestra had big plans for me. She always inspired me with her playing, and mind you, she doesn´t play for her other students. After our lessons, I always got a bowl of ice cream and cookies. She told me about the lives of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, and even Rachmaninoff. She always held a fan in one hand, and everytime she mentioned their names, there was this twinkle in her eyes that is hard to describe.

She said, you need Bach for your technique; Mozart, to connect with the child in you; Beethoven, to understand emotions and how sturm und drang sounds; Chopin, to enjoy music poetry; Liszt, to paint provocative and stirring sounds; and Rachmaninoff, to capture that nationalist spirit in you. I sat there and listened to her stories. She became my idol. I just knew then that I wanted to become like her when I grow up.

But when I was 7, the maestra had a vehicular accident. She spent the next 15 years of her life, on a wheelchair. As for her piano students (myself included), we had to look for another teacher. She didn't want me to go. I was after all, her favorite. But she could not play the piano anymore. She can´t even stand, or sit for a long time.

So we had a new piano teacher. She was nice. But I could tell right away that she wasn't as good as the maestra. Her method of teaching was nothing like the maestra. She did everything by the book. There was no life. No passion. No intense love for music. She even gave me the impression that she taught music because she doesn´t know what else to do.

I also discovered one thing. She was not very good at sight reading. I was so cocky then, I really thought I was better than her. I went back to the maestra. Told her about my observations. She was silent. That same day, I told my mother that I don't need piano lessons anymore. That was in 1979, I was 11 years old then. I was learning Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata & Grieg's Anitra's dance, and I didn't have a teacher.

A year and a half later, maestra invited her nun, concert pianist niece to Sorsogon. Sor Ester, who was trained in Germany, took me in. I was so happy. You see, Sor Ester is a virtuoso pianist and an excellent teacher. She was soooo good, the 8 months I spent with her as a student was a humbling experience.

I´ll stop here.... will continue again another time.


maricel said...

Ah...piano lessons??
Cant find a piano teacher to motivate my kids haha

cherie said...

matibay ka na baga batit ka pa lang. buhay pa an maestra mo? she sounds wonderful.

Droomvla said...

Cherie: Awat na siya kamatay, san 1991 pa. She was indeed a wonderful person. Pinadaba ako sadto na baga an sadiri niya na apo. :)

Anna said...

i never went past "teaching little fingers to play" book 1, he he he. na terrorize ata ako san ruler ni sor vita.

Droomvla said...

Di bale na, listuhunon ka man magsurat. Kaluoy man an mundo kun pati sa music mag excel ka! HAHAHAHAHA

Mel said...

i've been telling Bianca, my eldest about you. she's into music as well. naamaze ako sa iya kay matibayon sa mga instruments maski wara nagtutukdo. and she's also got a good voice. she read your blog and she was amazed that you could play the piano at 3. you're a genius daw. i smiled in agreement. she wants to meet you, magkadi ka kaya nan turuan mo siya magpiano hahahaha! she's also having her piano lessons but her teacher is not as great as the maestra that you were talking about anyways, looking forward to reading the part 2.

Droomvla said...

Isad an Canada sa mga countries na magayon an world music program sa eskuwelahan. Bianca should not have a problem finding a good teacher there.

Tell her, I'm not a genuis. I'm just a wasted talent.

Sa mga gin conduct ko na music researches sa Sorsogon, sa Bacon ako nakaagi sin mga very talented na musicians. They are not schooled musician like myself, pero very extensive an knowledge ninda sa mga elements of music. I was so impressed.

AMo man an Batangas. Ronnie is from Batangas, right? Kaya, dili ako magnga ngalas na may talent ina na batit mo. Sana makakuwa siya sin mayad na vocal coach nan music teacher dida. It would also help kun mag entra siya sa Glee club or music groups.

Padarahon mo didi sa akon sin one summer kay turuan ko. HAHAHAHAHA

Jesusa Arevalo said...

can't wait to read the part 2!

Aristarkhos said...

"Bach for your technique; Mozart, to connect...and Rachmaninoff, to capture that nationalist spirit in you."
What a lovely way to characterize each one's work. A true connoisseur.
I, on the other hand, cannot tell one man's work from the other. I just go, "Aah! Bach!", wave my hands about with a little spring in my step and behave like a Zubin Mehta or Seiji Ozawa. In short, a true ignoramus. :)

Droomvla said...

Yeah, my maestra was extremely good. She was the best. She knew exactly the language of the composers. And when she plays, the piano becomes an extension of her.

Nowadays, it's hard to find a teacher with such passion and dedication to her craft. That's why for me, she was my ONLY maestra.