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Silver linings

By: - Columnist
/ 12:30 AM January 21, 2021

To say that 2020 was challenging would be the understatement of the year. With Taal Volcano’s temper flaring to the spread of this novel coronavirus causing multiple industries and hosts of people to lock up and hunker down, not to mention the passing of many friends, relatives and colleagues in the various communities in which we all circulate, 2020 dealt blow after blow after blow. Thank goodness we’re well into 2021. I was so done.

I’m not saying that the arrival of 2021 will miraculously bring about a swift end to the pandemic or a quick return to life as we knew it before COVID-19, but perhaps the new year will possess a good enough measure of hope and optimism, a renewed sense of vigor for all of us as we try to figure out how to move forward and carry on for yet one more trip around the sun.

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However, for all of its awfulness, 2020 was not all for naught. If there was anything this year taught us, it was to look for the silver linings in bad situations. When the lockdowns were first declared and folks were asked to work from home, a lot of us who weren’t all that well-acquainted with the technology already available at our fingertips, all of a sudden needed to take crash courses in … everything.

For me personally, there were a few things I needed to learn: how to be my own recording engineer, cameraman and lighting designer. Sure, the level at which I’m doing any of this is that of just above an absolute beginning, but it’s better than nothing. I’m glad to learn a little, and if nothing else, I better appreciate the professionals who do this for a living.

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Once we’re back to normal, I’ll stick to singing, which is what I do best.

It took quite an adjustment, singing at home for corporate events or fundraisers. This had a novel quality at the beginning. However, as time passed, novel turned into normal. Singing sans audience takes some getting used to, but it isn’t so much the applause.

For many performers, the audience is less a passive participant and more an active responder, engaging in conversation with the artist onstage. Performer and audience member feed off of one another, and it’s this interaction that many of us miss.

That said though, I’ve been able to focus on the singing. Just the singing. The technique of it … the breathing … the body support … figuring out musical challenges in songs I’ve never sung before … finding my way through a new piece via a road map provided by a friendly music director (thank heavens for sheet music) … and giving my best guesses on context and interpretation.

When the audience is taken away and all I’m left with is the music, I’m reminded that this is what I fell in love with, and I gain new appreciation for singing and for all the mechanisms that make it happen: the diaphragm, the fascia, those larger muscles in my back, ribs and abdominals, my lungs (which in this day and age I promise to never take for granted), my heart which houses the emotions, and my mind which keeps the stories.

My daughter seems to have inherited the fascination, and she sings every day at home. She told me today that she mutes herself while in class online because she sings so darn much.

The year 2021 in many ways feels like a continuation of 2020, with all the days feeling more like one long day. Perhaps in the silence and the ennui, we can find that which we fell in love with long ago and fall in love with it again.

That said, it would be nice to work on a show or concert again, in front of an actual flesh-and-blood audience. You know what, I’ll manifest it here and now, and release that wish into the universe on behalf of artists everywhere. Maybe in 2021, that wish will come true.

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