Sometimes I ponder over the future of music and the arts in this pandemic.

It was a whole new world when I chose to pursue music in 2019. But the pandemic struck, and with barely any signs of improvement nowadays outside the development of vaccines, it’ll take a while before things can go back to normal.

It’s times like these when the questions start rushing back. Am I in the right place? Is my course still worth pursuing? Am I even doing something “practical,” for lack of a better term? Should I start working again? But what about my scholarship? Should I have shifted to law or pursued a master’s degree instead?

Despite the abrupt but necessary inconveniences brought about by the advent of online classes, I realized that music does have its place in this pandemic, and that its future extends far beyond the traditional source of entertainment we usually associate it with.

Music, for starters, is a source of healing. Like many others, my mental health took a plunge during the pandemic, but strangely enough, a lot of our classes are thankfully tolerable thanks to the music we’ve been studying. There’s something about it that soothes both the body and mind. There’s a reason why music therapy exists, which is not just an education-related tool but an actual medical tool that licensed therapists use for patients undergoing rehabilitation abroad, Music even plays an important role in “preparing” terminally ill patients. In a time when we’re all grappling with grief, uncertainty, and anxiety, music has served as a catalyst for healing people in their time of need, and I see its importance more than ever.

Music has had its own breakthroughs in the engineering and IT fields. We’ve learned how possible it is to integrate technology with music through the production of new electronic instruments. With everyone being isolated, new apps have started popping up for the convenience of musicians; there’s one app that lets you compose and collaborate with other musicians on the go. Maybe someone will make an app allowing you to sing with your friends without pesky lags.

Music also taught me to reconnect with my roots. Musicology classes might sound like a musical mix between literature and history classes, but they taught us the importance of preserving our rich cultural heritage after centuries of colonization and neglect. We learned the dangers of losing our oral and written history embedded in more than a hundred ethnolinguistic groups around the Philippines—the Aeta, Tagbanuas, Manobos, etc., especially given the dangers our Lumad brothers and sisters have been subjected to in recent years.

A big misconception about being a performer is that we are individualists who have to prop themselves up to be heard by the world. But choral and orchestral music taught me that teamwork exists and is a necessity. As performers, we are taught not act like “stars” but to use our respective talents for a bigger audience. Also, being a conductor in an orchestra is more than just baton-waving and swaying; have you ever tried doing bicep curls and a few stretches? Try doing that for more than an hour at different tempos nonstop. It’s an intensive workout and not one to be taken lightly.

Music theory is like combining academic math (with a bit of physics) with your auditory senses. Although it’s a difficult subject, it is through theory where the fundamentals of music are learned—such as the fact that the 12 different pitches we’ve been forced to familiarize with have found their way to various compositions across centuries, and we also see them in our OPM songs.

Through music, I especially learned the value of appreciating each moment in life and doing my best. Our performance exams involved performing in front of a panel and an audience through recitals, which tested our nerves and quick-thinking skills. In recent months, our patience was also tested as we had to record ourselves singing (sorry, neighbors) and keep the videos clean from further background noise. That meant pressing the stop-and-play button numerous times every time a tricycle zoomed past our house.

And it is thanks to music that I learned the value of community and togetherness. The music community in the Philippines is a small but booming one, which requires building friendships and forming relationships for various projects. During these past years, I’ve met musicians who are not only gifted in music but are also passionate in other fields such as environmental science, film, nuclear physics, and law. But despite our differences, we’ve learned to bond thanks to music, and during this pandemic, we’re helping each other through the odds.

I still see hope and a future in music despite these difficult times. I hope many will feel the same way, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
Read More

The flu

I don't pretend to know everything about global recession and failing economies. I don't know exactly why something happening in Thailand, hundreds of miles away, should mean that I have to pay more for my Planters Cheese Curls.
Read More

Grade school life

At first glance, everything looks so innocent, so pure and clean. Who would suspect that behind its lovely walls, its air-conditioned classrooms and peaceful surroundings lie a life so treacherous? I should know because I've been there.