I have a lot of big dreams. Almost all of my dreams are beyond my reach. And even I have ten lifetimes or a hundred, I will never have them. But it’s alright. Our big dreams may not come to life, the way they appear like movies in our minds but we can always have small versions of our dreams.
One of my small dream versions is to perform in Alberlardo Hall of UP College of Music. I think performing in a place where the most talented musicians in the country are made is a validation that I can sing. In truth, you don’t have to be a performer or a musician to be on Alberlado Hall’s stage. As long as you can afford to rent the venue or to enroll in the college extension program, you can be on stage. That’s my small version of CCP Theatre or Araneta Coliseum.
I read my voice teacher’s text message a couple of times. At first, I overlooked the venue of my voice recital. The second., I slowly read Al—be–lar—do Hall. Then read it again. How I was going to sing in a large venue? Can my voice occupy this hall?
Am I enough?
Within my fourteen sessions of voice lessons, I realized I was tone-deaf. I needed a regular ear cleaning. Like any music course, I had to learn through hearing. It would have been easy if I could listen to my teacher sing and copy the way she did. But for the entire semester, I haven’t heard her sing, not even a single note. I had to rely on what she played in piano.
For my recital piece, I was ambitious enough to choose Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Think of Me. For people who have been taking voice lessons, the song is amateurish. But for newbies like me, it was already challenging. I thought I could give it a try because the song was for middle range voice. The only problem was the last notes were complicated and terrifyingly high. My teacher scolded me a couple of times including my last rehearsal. On one session, she said that it was stupid for me to repeat the same mistakes. It was a relief when she told me that was the hardest part of the song and that some students would let the pianist take charge of the last part. It was supposed to be sang in a cappella. But my teacher was a purist and she pushed me to sing the way it was written in the music sheet.
It was hard. I know that that is an overstatement. But for someone who can’t read notes, it really was. Aside from the fact, I had no one to imitate. Emmy Rossum did not sing the complicated notes. Of course, Sarah Brightman sang it perfectly but Sarah Brightman had a lot of inflections in her singing. It was difficult to follow which notes she was singing.
The day came. I wanted to sing but at the same time I wanted to disappear. A few minutes, before the show I saw a familiar face.
“So, it’s your recital?”
He flashed his Matinee idol smile.
Then he tapped me on the shoulder and my heart grew wings. If my song was based on real life, he would be my phantom and I would be his pupil. I was going to say that “my teacher said you were such an adorable boy.” But swallowed those words thinking that it was actually me who wanted to say he was adorable.
As we waited for the pianist to arrive, my teacher said:
“Did you practice the four notes? You should sing it correctly.”
With the serious tone of her voice, I felt the pressure. I was willing to take the risk of singing the wrong note. Then I thought of my pianist, how professional he was and how small I was compared to his music genius. I could not just sing any note. I had to sing the right note. I have liked him since the day I watched him played the jazz version of Bahay Kubo. I did not want him to Think of me and think of my mistake.
I entered the stage. I wish I could hide the tension in my voice. It was almost a dream. I could not see the faces of my audience. My contact lens were failing.
The vision was hazy. It was a small version of a dream. I sang a song that I never thought I could ever sing. I sang a song with a man whom I could never have but within three minutes of our lives we were united.
It all ended.
As I lay on my bed and started to create new dreams, I turned on my phone and read: “Congratulations, Jackie. I was waiting for the wrong note. You sang all beautifully and correctly. I’m at 116.”