Thursday, October 6, 2016

Of Ukulele Nights and Overcoming Stage Frights

I don't have a stage fright.

Or so I thought.

I have been a performer all my life. I grew up doing various performances such as acting, singing (don't get me wrong, I am tone deaf), and dancing for our church. I've done quite a lot of dance number, declamations, extemporaneous and impromptu speeches in high school. I have been part of small-scaled and large plays, and  I was a cheerleader all throughout my college life.

See? It wasn't a big deal to perform something for a large crowd until that one fateful Ukulele Night.
Photo by Kwatro Kwerdas

When I heard about the birth of a new ukulele community in Davao, I immediately wanted to be a part of it. You see, I have only learned how to play the uke June this year when the boyfriend gave it as a birthday present after seeing that I seem to have a huge interest on it (actually, nainggit lang talaga ako sa kasama kong nagdala ng uke sa Mount Apo). So for a beginner like me, a ukulele community can help hone a budding talent or boost confidence, like a support group or something.

I have been part of some societies and groups in Davao, and I can say that each time you gather with people of the same interest who share the same passion with you, not only you will gain new friends, but you will also learn something. And I am thankful that Kwatro Kwerdas was born. At least now, playing the uke won't be limited inside the four corners of my bedroom anymore.

I have only heard about Kwatro Kwerdas when a close friend posted about the ukulele night that happened last September 18 at JavaJive.
Photo via JavaJive Philippines
I got upset. Thoughts of envy suddenly loomed over me. Where was I that night? How the hell did I miss it? I will never forgive myself if I missed the second ukulele night.

Come September 25, I went there alone. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest, the awkward meter was at 11. But thankfully, I met people I've known before and JavaJive's ambiance is so cozy and welcoming which made that awkward meter three bars less.

When the artists started playing, I was awestruck. My ears were intently locked to the rendition of their original songs. How can these artists be so damn good? I got pumped up that I immediately sent a text to the guitarist boyfriend and told him we should write our own song and do our own music too. Haha.
Some of the awesome artists who performed that night. (L-R: Thea, Chud, and O'Niel)
Then the jam session came shortly after the artists have performed. Sound Essentials provided ukuleles for those who haven't brought their ukes with them and for those who are wanting to learn. We were taught to play a few songs and I have got to admit, I had goosebumps when everybody was playing simultaneously. It no longer felt awkward. It felt home - the same feeling I get when I play inside my bedroom.
Photo by O'niel. There's actually quite a number of people not captured on photo that it almost filled all of JavaJive.

Then came open mic - where people and various artists from the audience can share their talents. I was asked to perform at first. But knowing that my singing voice is only good for the videoke audience, I promptly hesitated. I just listened from the audience and I was certainly amazed and amused by the talents and the stories these people share.
Photo by JavaJive
Then suddenly, when they asked if the are any more performances from the audience, I was like bitten by a bug or something that affected my muscular system and I involuntary raised my hand. Remember when Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a tribute to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games?

That's pretty much how it happened. Except there were no killings. But I can say I would have died. I swear I probably had 10 heart attacks the moment I sat down in front. Awkward meter jumped back to full scale. I thought I was going to break down. I asked myself the same question that I've been asking all throughout my life, what have I gotten myself into? 

The only time I got nervous was when I jumped off a cliff that's 5 storeys high. And that only lasted 5 seconds. But that night felt like I drank 2 liters of coffee. I tried to keep it cool by sharing my story; how I came to love the uke and that I've only started 3 months ago so that I'll have an excuse just in case I screw up. And yes, I screwed up. I played Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses (O diba, confident! Haha). My fingers fumbled. It's like it has stopped functioning. I couldn't even hear the music I was playing. So I'm not really sure if I was playing it right. After all, it was my first time to perform solo.
Char lagi. (Photo by O'Niel)
But the people from the audience were so encouraging that I started to feel more comfortable. When I played my second song (Creep by Radiohead), a few others sang with me. It felt like playing just in front of my friends that I didn't mind if my fingers were clumsy or if I messed up a chord. All I know is that I was living that moment. I was definitely enjoying every part of it.

That night, I went home overwhelmed and inspired to do more and to be more. Who knows? Maybe six months from now, or after a year I might be able to write my own songs and create great music like them. Anybody can dream. :)


© Life is so full of tae!
Maira Gall