Last July 12, young Christians of the South travelled to North, to share gospel music in Metro Manila Church of Christ (MMCOC). The audience heard not only, the Heartbeats of Cebu, but also the heartbeats of God.
“What we hear are angels’ voices,” said Albert Asprec in his closing prayer during the event.
Lucas, one of the young audience, clapped, snapped, and closed his eyes as he sang with them in his seat. He remarked, “They sang beautifully. They got everyone to join them.”
Iman, a balikbayan, visiting for his relative’s wedding said, “I enjoyed it very much, and it was worth the trip to Canada.”
The members of Church Samar Avenue cheered during their performance. To note how positive the audience responded, Benny Puda, the church chair, described their performance as “ hindi natin kayang gayahin.”
Surprised by the warm welcome of MMCOC, Cheryl Santos, one of the Heartbeats lead singers, posted on her Facebook wall: “I was super encouraged from the first night Mini-concert at Samar Avenue Church, Quezon City. So blessed, seeing other brethren inspired of the message of the songs, one shouted, ‘I like that song.’ Wow praise God! I love to sing more and more for His people! Thank you God for using us an instrument.”
Heartbeats, composed of nine members at that time, sang more than 20 songs in the church hall of Metro Manila Church of Christ. Most of their songs were taken from Zoe Group. They introduced new songs to the congregation and sang some familiar songs such as How Great Thou Art with their own version, Mighty to Save, and The Voice of Truth popularized by Casting Crowns. They also invited the audience to sing with them.
The Heartbeats members are young professionals of Downtown Cebu who have been actively involved in the ministry. The singing group is led by Joel Talaver, the singing preacher. Maricor Talaver, who can sing alto and soprano, supports her husband, Joel, in the ministry. Cheryl Santos, is the church secretary and is married to their youth minister. Josue Duque, the bottomless bass, is a full-time church worker and a graduate of Cebu Bible College. Rizal, also serves the church full-time. He plays multiple roles. He takes care of the church facilities, visits members and other tasks in the church. Weng Rosales is a Sunday School Teacher. She teaches 23 homeless kids. The del Rosario siblings namely Phebe, Shelou, and Ethan have been the lead vocalists of the a capella group. They have been singing in church events, fellowships, weddings, and events outside church activities. Phebe, the song bird, also teaches a group of young ladies during Bible studies.
Except the del Rosario, none of them has formal training in singing. In fact, most of them cannot read notes. They sing by ear. They are just mere young people who love to sing. Joel emphasized, “’Pag grupo tayo kumanta, hindi kailangan maganda ang boses mo kasi yung boses mo at yung boses ng bawat isa ‘pag icombine mo, it produces a different sound. Yan ang tinatawag na synergy. Kaya kahit ordinary lang yung boses mo, ‘pag may ibang kumakanta tas sabay kayo iba na ‘yong kinalabasan mo.”
Why do they sing
The Downtown Church of Christ of Cebu had shown excellence in singing praises until 1994, they called their singing group Soldiers of Praise and in 2007, they called themselves Heartbeats. The formation of singing group is not primarily to produce concerts. “Actually, ang main purpose ng etong group ay hindi talaga itong concert. Ang main purpose ay this group can inspire our congregation to sing so that our Sunday worship service maganda talaga yung singing. Our second objective is to inspire other congregations to sing. Sabi ko sa kanila, if magaling kayo kumanta tapos yung church natin ‘pag Sunday hindi maganda kumanta, we have not reached our goal, “ said Joel.
Marcor added, “Singing is a good venue to share the gospel (and ) to edify others. If the Lord has given you talent, use it to glorify him.”
When they sing
They sing contemporary Christian music for young generation. They get inspiration from Zoe and Halal but maintain originality. “Ayaw rin namin to copy exactly yung ginagawa nila siyempre, gusto namin our way of singing, siyempre mayron mga konting modifications, iba siya sa original sa Zoe group.”
They apply dynamics and swelling in their singing. Joel also stressed the importance of breathing, “sabay sabay dapat.” Asked if how he would judge a good a capella group, he mentioned four things: blending, quality, interpretation, and feeling of the song.
How do Heartbeats’ hearts beat
The success of their singing group lies on the leadership of the group. “Kailangan ng leader gaya sa amin, si Kuya Jo, na magstestep-up na magtuturo at mag-iinsist na ‘magpractice tayo guys,” said Ethan.
A key to good performance is through constant practice. When they have an upcoming concert, they practice three times a week, from seven o’ clock to ten o’clock. They have regular vocal and breathing exercises. Good listening skill is also a must.“ You have listen to others. Dapat ang volume [ng isa’t isa] pantay-pantay,” said Joel.
Joel uses humanistic approach in teaching the members of the group. He helps his young people gain confidence in themselves. He pointed out that fun should be an element in song practices. “I want them to enjoy it. It’s something that has to be fun and they enjoy. That’s one step” To motivate the group, Maricor reminds them that they are doing it for the Lord.
Though it is a group performance, he stresses out individual responsibility. Sometimes, he asks them to record their singing parts. Another tip, they protect their voices by not drinking cold water and having a supply of Pei Pa Ko candies.
Heartbeats performed in Cainta and Baguio. For future concerts, they plan to visit Zamboanga and Tacloban.