Imagine a world without music.
Exactly. It’s like a clear space for soulless creatures to roam around without purpose…
Or at least, that’s how it would be like for me.
Thank God for the arts. And thank God for the art teachers. This post was supposedly featuring the business side of hailing music. But as I write it, I can’t help but write it on a more personal scale because of my high regard for its teachers.
I grew up in the Philippines and I sang along to so many songs from the FM radio. Multiplex and minus one tapes were a hit instead of karaoke. To memorize a song, I had to buy a comic like lyrical book called “song hits”! I wait faithfully for the DJ to play my songs so that I could sing along with it. I will have to rewrite the lyrics in my notebook of favorite songs without looking at the song hits. Then, I will sing it more and in full belt in my room, in the shower, and in the car without holding anything relying on the lyrics I’ve learned by heart.
One day, when I was singing along Whitney Houston’s riffs in “I will always Love You”, while on our way to an excursion, my dad asked me, “Do you like singing?”. I answered yes and he asked me if I would like to sing in the fiesta celebration in our province, Romblon. I started to get nervous because I knew so well that performing there would be a big deal for him since he was running for councilor and that it would mean singing to the public!
My dad has high expectations from among us which made me jittery. A couple of thoughts ran through my mind despite my eagerness to make an impression on him. Firstly, I know I am not a singer. Secondly, I’ve never sang in front of a crowd. In a birthday party, yes, of a friend because my teacher assigned me to do it and I get to sing with my grade school crush, Charles Wyson. But that’s it. My dad felt me panicking so he said, “Don’t worry! I’ll bring you to Yamaha School of Music”, and there, I had the best music teacher ever! I don’t remember his name but he surely made my stage fright go away and he made me able to belt flawlessly on the night of April 2 for the festive event in Odiongan, Romblon. My family was so proud of me. And I felt great afterwards. Such accomplishment, I owed to my vocal teacher big time.
Fast forward, I now work in the happiest place on earth and I’m continuously inspired by a huge pool of talents. I know a lot of people gracing cruise ships with their superb performances, being demanded to play a role in many musicals such as Miss Saigon, the Festival of the Lion King and many more, had toured around the world via Cirque de Solei and met people who had put up their own music and dance schools. What takes my breath away the most is that, as I write this down, I realize that the person I’m about to feature had done most of everything I have just mentioned. She had toured around the world for performing in the Royal Carribean Cruise Ship. In two years, she was able to visit 60 countries. Before that, she was part of the opening team of Hong Kong Disneyland with the role of Nala in the Festival of the Lion King Show and now owns and is the Creative/Artistic Director of the first of its kind, the Brown Academy of Music in Cebu.
Anna Fegi-Brown started singing professionally during her teenage years as one of Smokey Mountain’s superb products. For the record, Smokey Mountain made me survive grade school because their songs spoke of courage, truth and had reflected a heart of a true Filipino fighter. It was empowering. I get attracted to liking a song because of its lyrics than its melody. And Smokey Mountain spoke of the strongest messages in their songs. Little did I know, I would have the privilege of writing about one of its former members as of today. When I was studying at the University of Santo Tomas, “Paraiso” was one of the songs played during our monthly mass and we got attached to its lyrics as a student body. Being under the legendary Ryan Cayabyab, Anna’s success to stardom was being paved long before she realized it. Thank God for her first music teacher who opened up the opportunity to her as early as when she was 3 years old, her dad.
There was a phase in my life when I hailed divas in Sunday noon time shows and when I would stay up late to watch Maestro Ryan Cayabyab’s late night show where he plays the piano for uber talented singers (I think that was shown on Thursdays) and to be entertained by Martin Nievera After Dark (that show was called, “MAD”,) during Saturdays. As you can see, in one of these shows, I have always looked up to the big haired Ms. Anna Fegi, owning that unforgettable voice and a cocktail of humility and confidence exuding an amiable persona. Alongside Bituin Escalante, the Company and Vina Morales, she made most of my Sundays complete through her powerful voice.
It was last January, 2016, when Anna Fegi-Brown, the brilliant singer/actress and spouse, Adam Brown, the musical director that worked with her in the ship, had put up a première music school that would house their vision, their passion and most of all, their dreams. Growing up in the mountains of Lutopan, just outside Cebu, Anna had difficulty getting music lessons. Because of that, she always had to go to the city for training. “For me, personally, nothing I ever wanted came easily, I had to fight for it.”, Anna said as she shares the ultimate drive in putting up the Brown Academy of Music (BAM).
But like what I always believe in, God will always hone you to fulfill the desires of your heart. Whatever you wished for, He would prepare you for what’s its worth.
Because of Ms. Anna’s pursuit to give aid to the dreamers, as a little girl, she always thought of putting up this school. And, in line with making music available to the people of Lutopan, Anna wanted to give them the ability to find their voice, be compatible with who they are and just learn to love performing and not focusing only on its benefits. I thought that was a very empowering mission. And I instantly remembered how my Yamaha teacher had influenced me in attaining a goal… in general, even until now.
The Brown Academy of Music offers classes for voice, guitar, drums, keyboard, violin, saxophone, flute, trumpet. The latest offering they have is summer dance classes which is led by Teacher Monica from the Knapsack Dancers, a premiere dance group in Cebu. Anna Fegi is the teacher for voice and while her husband teaches the rest for the musical instruments, they see to it that they don’t skip the fundamentals. As far as reading music is concerned, they don’t want their students to excel just by learning how to play the music by ear. They also are very extensive of their curriculum by teaching their students how to prepare for an audition, where and when it takes place and they give importance to making the students love music to soulfully learn. On top of that, they offer a program for 6 month old babies to 5 year olds called, the Aria Music Program which originally started as basic Children’s Music. “We have a separate program that is children’s music which has two divisions. One starts as young as six months to two years. It’s actually for the parent or guardian as well. It introduces how to use music in the house, for family bonding, make the family closer. Also, how to use music to soothe a crying baby. The other is for three to five years old. That’s just for the child. It’s their first time to be in a classroom. Being away from their parents…tears in their eyes. But it’s good they already have an experience when they go to regular schools. It teaches all the fundamentals. We also have much older students in their 20s and 30s. One is in his late 60s. Everybody learns from each other and they come from different places. It’s really cool.”, Adam shares in Cebu daily news.
Anna considers her parents, being educators themselves, as the greatest influence in her life. She looks up to them so much that her greatest ambition is to start a family. With the Brown Academy of Music, they maybe strict in imposing the discipline that comes with the craft but they aim for the students to feel that they have a family among their fellow students and most of all their teachers. There were many instances that students come to the school even if they have no lessons for that day just because they feel at home and it’s where their friends are. After all, music is what bonds the students altogether. Furthermore, BAM understands that the life outside the school halls may be stressful to some of the students so they aid their students with a non-judgemental learning environment as they choose to learn music for their own outlet. Anna, above all, feels proud of the non-musical lessons that come with the school. A post that would tackle the qualities a successful musician/vocalist should have in pursuing a career in show business by the star herself, Anna Fegi-Brown will be up soon.
The powerhouse voice that she has maybe found intimidating and is a source of big expectation all at the same time by a lot of parents upon enrolling their kids in BAM. But Anna assures them with their mission of allowing the students to find their voice. She doesn’t aim to make another Celine Dion, Whitney Houston or another Anna Fegi out of the students but to develop a new star in each of them with the genuine love for the art and the right discipline to back it up as an educated musician once they get to the top. They plan to do this by encouraging them to embrace their own voice, develop it to become unbeatable and to be able to use it as a tool in becoming a great story-teller through their songs. Besides the confidence that gets developed in BAM, they are also taught and encouraged to touch their emotional side when they perform so that the story they bring to the audience through their music becomes more meaningful and touching. This way, the audience gets to relate to the BAM students’ performance in a special kind of way.
Hailing creativity and the arts, I can’t help but remember my music teacher as I write about Ms. Anna Fegi-Brown. She and her husband are helping tons and tons of kids in Cebu by making them see their potential and by teaching them to get hold of what they are capable of. Recently, the Elite BAMStars performed in David Pomeranz’s Valentine concert in Waterfront Hotel in Cebu. And this is a proof that Brown Academy of Music has a lot to offer in providing a safe and assured platform where the students can show their talent and get what they worked hard for into fruition. Not to mention, a concert that is happening on June 3 featuring enrollees from the summer program and the main stay students will be joined by the Crystal Voice of Asia, Sheryn Regis.
I remember very well how my family cheered on me along with many in the audience when I sang “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston during the fiesta in Romblon. Despite finishing my bachelor’s degree in Nursing, I still perform today because of my love for entertaining people. My first music teacher was one of the greatest influences I have had. To pay tribute to how he touched my life and molded my artistic side (coming from a non-artistic family) into its most tangible form, I dedicate this post to him. I may not remember his name but I remember how he helped me be where I am now without a shadow of a doubt.
If you would want your child to excel, if you would want your child to be successful and if you want your child to be able to find his/her voice,
find the right teacher.
Let there be flow of music.