When Gugu was a toddler, he often sang to himself while he played with his toys, sometimes he even sang himself to sleep while we carried him. Music became one of his favorite subjects too when he started going to school. He would often come home to proudly play his recorder with pieces he learned from his music teacher. He also joined singing competitions in his school where most of the songs he sang was either by Bruno Mars or Ne-yo, our favorite contemporary male singers at home. Perhaps his interest in music shouldn’t come as a surprise. My dad was an accomplished pianist and composer; my mom a church singer with wonderful alto voice; whereas, there are singers and musicians among my husband’s relatives. I can sing and have participated actively in choral competitions and musical theater before.
So when Gugu turned 7, I introduced him to my friend, Cel, a graduate of UP Conservatory, with a diploma in piano. She was also a member of the most famous choral group in the country, The Madrigal Singers or Madz. I met Cel during a summer theater camp by 9Works in 2011 where we both learned the art of acting, singing and dancing for close to two months. In those weeks, I got pretty close to my classmates including Cel, and we have kept in touch through social media since.
She taught my eldest for years while enrolled in a traditional school. I’ve always advocated diversity in children’s learning experience outside of classrooms even before I decided to homeschool my kids. It was that principle that led me to ask Cel to teach my son how to play the piano when I noticed his consistent interest in music. Part of the reason too was the research I read about how music can help enhance the part of the brain that process logic. I guessed it worked because Gugu was consistent honor student in his school.
Teacher Cel has patiently taught my eldest the basics of piano from the proper arm and palm positioning, posture, notes reading, and how to play simple to more complex piano pieces. A few months after, Gugu had his first recital where he played “Snake Charm” and “Ode to Joy”. His then 3 years old brother, Chabibi, who on few occasions also attended his kuya Gugu’s sessions at Teacher Cel’s music studio, was present during the recital. Teacher Cel is simply great with kids. On days when Chabibi joined his kuya during his piano session, Teacher Cel would allow him to play the piano after Gugu’s lessons, allowed him to strike the keys with his palms. When Chabibi turned 6 and also showed interest in playing the piano, we decided to enrol him for music lessons with Teacher Cel in June last year. This was also the time when we decided to homeschool our boys. Their piano lessons consisted the bulk of the boys’ MAPEH portfolio last school year.
Chabibi and Teacher Cel after his kuya Gugu’s first piano recital.
When pandemic hit the country early this year, with enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) announced and strictly imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, the kids had to stop going to Teacher Cel’s studio in Katipunan. We were scheduled to have a recital end of April but that was cancelled too for everyone’s protection. Prior to the pandemic, we go to her music studio to have their lessons which starts at 10 AM and ends at 11 AM. While in quarantine, the kids intermittently played their pieces on our Casio keyboard but not as often as when they were taking lessons from Cel. I realized that for the kids, it is better when they have a mentor who can gently push them to keep playing; who has the expertise, the professional authority and patience to guide them to perform pieces that are complicated. They missed their Teacher Cel and on few occasions had asked when they will be seeing her again.
Two weeks ago, Teacher Cel, told me through Messenger that she plans to offer the piano lessons via Zoom while there’s no vaccine yet for the coronavirus and had invited us to do a trial run for the online class with her. The trial run was a success – my kids were happy to play with her again! They were able to continue their lessons since then using Zoom app where Teacher Cel also shows a piano app through screen share. She makes the kids listen as she plays each bar on the music sheet on her piano while the kids correlate the notes on their book and play the keys on our keyboard. Teacher Cel would then listen to my kids play then correct when necessary. She has since sent me new pieces to study and worksheets for the kids to work with on their spare time as homework.
For those who would like to take up online piano lessons, Teacher Cel is running a promo: first session is free. This way, the student and parents will be able to assess whether online piano lesson will work for them especially for those who live far from QC. To contact Teacher Cel, click the link below to land you to her Facebook page where you can send message for queries and appointments: