“I am saying that the ultimate connection cannot be the enemy. The ultimate connection must be the need that we find between us. It is not only who you are, in other words, but what we can do for each other that will determine the connection.” –Report from the Bahamas, June Jordan
“I am saying that the ultimate connection cannot be the enemy.” (Jordan)
MAVIS, the one and only A Cappella group at my high school, was known to be the most tepid and tedious club among many other performance groups despite of its long history. The member of MAVIS, including me, were all embarrassed to tell others that we sing with our own voice without any other instrument. Of course we knew that the “voices” of our own make a song –--but was it the deeply-rooted consciousness of Confucianism in the society the problem that people took silence and solemnity as virtues? Or was it the absence of any outstanding product that we could at least introduce to others? Whatever the reason it might have been, even though I voluntarily signed up to be a member of MAVIS, I kept myself aloof from one of my identities to be a part of the group. Not only did all of the members not have affection toward the club, but also did we not respect each other. There was an implied ambience of discomfort followed if one of us pitched a wrong sound or missed a beat. There was no etiquette when it came to scheduling practice sessions: at every practice, there was at least one or two missing –and harmony was never been able to be made, not to mention the cacophonous sound of the easiest A Cappella song, “The Java Jive.” At the place where we were supposed to make one harmonious melody, the word “harmony” sounded too far away to ever reach; “harm”-ony would have fit better, the kind of “harm” that turned into arrows aiming to each other and that led to disregard our original passion for A Cappella. Never did we want to be enemies to each other; but there we were, holding bows and aiming one another.
“The ultimate connection must be the need that we find between us.”(Jordan)
I was lost. We were lost.
I was tired. We were tired in the middle of nowhere without any sound but with a desperate need to sing together.
In the midst of intense competition at school, I needed a refuge, a place where I could peacefully relax without thinking any more of the miscellaneous tension. A Cappella used to be one of my refuges, but that umbrella of music protecting me could only be unfolded when there were other voices helping me beside. Helplessly walking down the hill listening to ‘Little Drummer Boy’ by Pentatonix, I saw Rictory, one of MAVIS members, coming from the other way. Seeing his silhouette, I burst out with intense longing for his singing voice. Maybe I was not just looking for a mere A Cappella song to rest on. Maybe I was longing for all of the member’s voices and the virtue of merging them all together, whether mine or theirs were out of tune or rhythm. I asked him if he had time for the next ten minutes and could sing with me. Even though we were making melodies one by one on a whim, I could feel there were more strength and power reside each in our voice. Those rhythms, beats, lyrics were not just merely standing there staring at how we can wrongfully go. They were telling me, in their most genuine scores, how they can help MAVIS to get together and to prioritize our original passion toward A Cappella.
Soon Rictory stood up saying to me, “We should gather more MAVIS people. I felt so empty these days without hearing our voices!”
Under the tense academic stress and the frustration for not having any outcome, we were pulling our voices aside that even ourselves were afraid to voice out our own. Whether they were making cacophony, those voices were our identity. It was “my” identity too as a part of MAVIS. If I weren’t there, or if any of us weren’t there, MAVIS could not be MAVIS. Those trivial but uncontrollable tensions were suppressing me to be part of the team. But I forgot how I loved just the way how we sounded –because it was solely our own voices that made the song.
There in the music room, while other students were busy studying, we had scores in front of us. I felt like I needed to put down my guns and weapons that I was holding at the utmost tensed war of academics. Other members, who also felt exhausted because of their academics, started to sing notes one by one carefully too, loosening up their nervousness that they got out there at the battlefield. We weren’t enemies anymore; we were helping each other to reside under the umbrella of protection.
“It is not only who you are, in other words, but what we can do for each other that will determine the connection.” (Jordan)
Every beat and rhythm of A Cappella had slowly but eventually shaped me to be who I am right now. A Cappella gives me courage to volume up my own voice that is yet to make a beautiful harmony with others. I was very restrained and passive and was afraid to make my opinion to others before I knew the world of A Cappella. When I hit one of the tones wrong during the practice, I couldn’t sing more for I was afraid to make more mistakes and be harms to the rest of the team. By singing the song without any help from a single instrument, I got to know how beautiful it is to voice and express myself.
It would not an exaggeration to say that my identity has also been shaped along with other voices. By listening and paying attention to other voices, I toned down when we were supposed to sing like someone whispering, and up to make sound grandeur. Rather than randomly voicing my voice, I carefully tried to make a harmony; and that final moment of ecstasy –when all the different voices unite and flow out the room mellifluously!
I am trying to live a life of an A Cappella for I can never forget the moment of ecstasy. So I try to learn from people every moment; I learn while I am harmonizing with them; sometimes I just love to stand aside and listen to their melodious voices. I learned how wonderful it is to embrace all different kinds of voices. Now I am seeking more ways to meet and make harmonies with more diverse groups of people –because I know I will learn something more than what I have expected through the process and they will also learn how much harmony can bring to them and affect their lives positively.
I am dreaming of a day when all humanity can make one beautiful harmony that could soothe the tensions that we had onto one another. I am sure we would ultimately find amicable and cordial connections that were hidden behind the belligerent and hostile attitudes that we had mistakenly had.
So I sing again –yearning for a day when all of us can sing together.