Maestro Ryan Cayabyab: Learning music should be fun

There is never a dull moment even for as young as six years old when sitting in front of renowned composer Ryan Cayabyab whose voice is as pleasant as the sound of the piano he’s tinkering while sharing steps on how to write a song.

Mr. C, as he is fondly called, believes that music learning should be fun. “The kids should always be excited to learn something new ­— and the way to do this is to make them realize that they can accomplish tasks that they thought would be difficult to do.”

This year, Mr. C returns to the Promil Four i-Shine Talent Camp as music mentor of the kiddie participants who are six to 11 years old.

Now on its ninth year, Promil Four i-Shine has transitioned into becoming an Online Camp with classes that have been expertly designed for children, plus the virtual world at their fingertips. Apart from Maestro Ryan, also mentoring the kids are G-Force Dance Center founder and celebrity choreographer Georcelle Dapat-Sy for dance; The School of Academics and Arts founder and director Audie Gemora (performance); and Papemelroti president Robert Alejandro and arts director and Masterpiece Movement co-founder Kara Escay (Arts).

Dimples Romana, Ben&Ben and Magic Liwanag are equally willing to share tips on vlogging, dancing in front of the camera and smartphone photography.

Mr. C recently gave an idea of what is going to happen on the virtual music sessions, with focus on songwriting, that will encourage the children to fully tap their creativity and gain confidence in their work.

“Again, I will emphasize that it is a step-by-step process. Eventually, they will understand the process and ride with it easily,” the National Artist for Music mentioned as response to one of the questions sent to him via e-mail.

Here’s the rest of the e-mail interview with the maestro:

How does it feel mentoring kids as young as six years old?

The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab will turn 35 years this year. We have classes for children as early as six years old whose training curriculum I had patterned on the same training curriculum I created for the group 14-K in 1988. I trained them myself, and still continue training other people to apply the same curriculum, which is a combination of music education for kids and performance training, including singing and movement. This is my fifth year in the i-Shine program of Promil Four and I look forward every year to seeing six to 11-year-old kids in my class. Although I love doing face-to-face classes with kids (with trained assistants, of course), we had to abruptly adjust last year during the onset of the pandemic. Having done so taught us a lot! We learned how to make the most out of this new medium, that of online classes.

Why do you think it is important to nurture a child’s talent, like in music, at an early age?

Music education researches and journals point out that children who engage in musical activities turn out to be smarter kids. The earlier they start their music exposure and music activities, the earlier they imbibe the essence of being a disciplined person. Music entails graduated, or step-by-step learning. Their dexterity depends on their physiology while their emotional temperament will take shape as they mature.

To illustrate, pitch recognition can be a gift to some, but most humans need to train their ears to recognize pitch, and this entails time to hone this musical acumen. Lea Salonga as well as Aiza Seguerra started their music training at an early age. Both their mothers recognized the need to hone the musical talent of their respective children at an early age to have enrolled them in a music education program for children at a respected music college.

What’s your Top 3 tips for a talent to shine?

1. Practice, practice, practice makes perfect is our mantra. Performance is the culmination of rehearsals. One should practice to a point whereby the music performance is effortless, like it is the most natural thing in the world. Practice should include warming up as a prerequisite to rehearsing and performing. For a talent to shine, he or she has to practice religiously!

2. Enjoy learning, enjoy performing. One must enjoy the world of music to be lost in it and to share this enjoyment. Talents who shine the brightest give out an aura of joy and happiness when they perform.

3. To shine, one must learn and understand what affects performance externally. This third tip is for the adults who support the young performer. A musical performer needs good sound for the listening audience; an adequate venue; illumination to show the performer’s face or the entire performance area; right instruments or the right technical support; the right attire to showcase your repertoire, among other things. Even if this is not the concern of the talent, it goes without saying that to create the magic of music performance, everything should be in place.



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