by Carles Pereira Romero –
My name is Carles Pereira Romero, Grade 11. I am a passionate musician and am an active participant in bands both at CIS and outside CIS. On 18 December, I was fortunate enough to visit Yangon, Myanmar to perform with the Academy of Rock Singapore, where I have studied drumming since 2012. We had two unique performances scheduled for this trip: one at an orphanage in Yangon, the other at Academy of Rock, Myanmar. As soon as we touched down in Yangon, we were off. We went straight to the orphanage to give an acoustic concert where we played “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Locked Out Of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and “Long Train Running” by the Doobie Brothers, to a lovely audience of children. The children really seemed to enjoy our performance and showed their appreciation by smiling the whole time.
While the concert went as expected, the most surprising thing happened right after our performance. Children who had been sitting in rows came up to us, kissed the floor and bowed down to show respect and admiration. We discovered later (from the Monks) that these children were traumatised orphans whose parents had been killed during the civil war, and they had never smiled or laughed before. After the concert we spent some time with them, serving food and chatting. My friends and I felt a definite sense of satisfaction and goodwill at having put smiles on their faces. We also recognised how lucky we were – our parents and families were with us.
The children’s enthusiasm towards our music brought back some memories of my own early childhood. I was only 2 years old when my Dad got me my first plastic drum set. According to Mom and Dad, the drum was trash within 2 weeks (because I played the life out of it). Dad was my first music mentor and really helped shape my love of music. Although he didn’t play an instrument, he was a devout music listener. He introduced me to active music listening, the notion of rhythm, and all kinds of music genres including Jazz, Rock and many more. His love of music was infectious. Listening to music and playing the drums has always made me happy – just like the children at the orphanage. I was just 3 years old when I got my first real set of drums: I remember I was very excited (and still am today when I play).
In Myanmar, our second performance was in a slightly more upscale venue, Utopia Tower, where the Academy of Rock, Myanmar is located. We played alongside many other performers, including famous Burmese singers and musicians. The audience was a good mix of fans of the Burmese artists, teachers from Academy of Rock from Singapore and Myanmar, and our band mates’ families. Performing outside of school, in a foreign country, was a completely different experience for me. I was fully aware that I was performing in front of strangers in a brand new (and culturally different) environment. I tried to do my best and focussed on not making any mistakes! I aimed for perfection and enjoyed every moment of the concert. We played four songs: “Come Together” by The Beatles, “Say Please” by Tonight Alive, “Long Train Running” by the Doobie Brothers, and “Take Over, Break’s Over” by Fall Out Boy. I think the concert was a success. As a band, we were happy to be performing before a new crowd, and it was satisfying to watch the audience enjoying themselves.