It was a short and sweet five years singing and touring as an active member of the Madz, but those years were packed with memories, laughter, sharps and flats, perpetual prayers and celestial blessings. I was beyond blessed really to be part of the three batches that competed under Mark Carpio’s wings, winning all top prizes and the most coveted European Grand Prix for Choral Singing in 2007.
Those five years also taught me lots of lessons, in music and in life, all of which I carried by heart as I moved on as a Madz Alumni, as conductor of a children’s choir, as a music teacher, and as a parent. Yes, being handled and inspired by good conductors is much like being nurtured by good parents, that’s why Ma’am OA and Sir Mark continue to be my “life lights.”
Here are just ten things (I’m sure there are more) the Madz taught me:
1. Memo Number 1. I am sure every Madz know this. Memo number one simply meant common courtesy.
You will have your turn, eventually, just be patient.
2. Never forget your kadiwa. Or in short, bring your own baon. Whether the trip is short or long, sneak in snacks and instant noodles in your luggage as you will never know what food you will be served in your hotel or host family. And I am pretty sure you’d need your snacks during long plane or train rides. I’ve realized this more now that I have a daughter of my own. You’ll never know when she will cry out for food.
Bawal magutom and Madz!
3. Pack light. And I mean, really light. I have successfully done this in all the trips, and never went overweight! I pack light so I could have space for my costumes and shoes, and so I could buy new clothes (haha!) and pasalubong.
Never put liquid in your hand carry bag. Some singers forget this, so their liquid pasalubongs get confiscated in the end.
4. In line with the previous one, shop til you drop! To an extent, yes. Our founder, Ma’am OA, is well known for her love for shopping and bargain hunts, truly a world-class shopper. She told us you’ll never know when you will get back in that place, so go ahead and buy what you think you cannot find in our country.
When in Italia, always ask where the mercato is. And wear slippers or sneakers. Basta wag lang ma-shopping technique pagdating ng concert.
Now, for the more “serious” stuff:
5. Practice, practice, practice. And vocalize everyday. The Madz are known to be seated while singing, and seated beside alternating voices. So always work with your team. Have quartet rehearsals, sectionals, make sure you know your part and know the song well, too. Unless you don’t want number six to happen!
No one is indispensable, ika nga ni OA.
6. Make mistakes with conviction. As Madz trainees, we were expected to know the standard repertoire of the Madz–mass songs, concert repertoire–without the choirmaster or the members telling you. I had to learn soooo many songs in one sitting! So when you do make mistakes, don’t make it obvious.
Watermelon is the key! Just open your mouth. Or KKA–Kanya kanyang Arrangement, do your own harmony if you really can’t remember, as long as it’s in perfect harmony, that is.
7. Trust your choirmaster. They know what is best for you and the group. Sir Mark gave his complete trust to OA when he accepted the task as Madz Choirmaster in 2001. Likewise, we members gave the same trust to Mark when he assigns us a certain solo for some songs, and in my case, when he asked me to play guitar for several pieces during my first international tour, and when he assigned me a very important task in the Madz–the pitchgiver. He trusted me. I was afraid at first but he trusted me, and through his and His guidance, I was able to deliver well.
Faith, trust, and pixie dust (in our case, food and shopping!).
8. Pray. Before and after a concert or performance, especially competitions. We gather in a room for nightly prayers, worships, and rosaries before competitions. We thank the Lord after, too, and lift all up to Him.
Never underestimate the power of collective prayer.
9. Mingle. Make new friends. Meet the audience after a concert. Talk to as many new people as you can everyday. It’s one way of expanding your network, as well as building your self-confidence, conversational skills, and create friendships, which most of us had during the tour. Sometimes, love stories are made during mingling time.
Have you met anyone new today?
10. Sing from the heart. More than knowing your pieces, OA told us to sing from the heart. Simple yet true. That is a well-known Madz secret. We touch lives one song at a time. For that, we are humbled.
It’s much more meaningful if you do everything with your heart in it,