Students Group - Fine Work (Japan)
Sayaka Nakamura [Age 17,Junior, General Course, High School Division, Osaka Municipal Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, female]
I had my first opportunity to sing before an audience last year at the “Osaka Art and Cultural Festival for People with Disabilities”. This festival featured performances in various genres including drum and piano performances. Being awarded the first prize there has given me a great amount of confidence.
I started voice music in the spring of eighth grade, motivated by something said to me by one of my teachers. Years flew by and it has already been 4 years since.
It was in the fall of my seventh grade year when the students were singing “Furusato (My Country Home)” in a chorus during music class. My teacher said to me, “you have a nice voice. Why don’t you try vocal music? Let’s go have a look at the class”. It’s true I’ve always liked to sing, but I never thought of learning it seriously. Vocal music was one of the selective music courses and I was learning the piano at the time.
Students in vocal music class were singing in such powerful voices that I decided to take the course hoping to sing like that someday.
At first the lesson involved singing the melody part of chorus music in the textbook, vocal exercises and learning to take a proper posture. This helped me to sing in a louder voice, and to release of stress just by doing so. It felt as if my world had opened up.
As I got used to singing, the teacher gave me numerous pieces of advice on the songs of increased difficulty that I’d been allowed to sing. I could not wait for my lesson on every Friday.
One day in the fall of my ninth grade year, I was talking with my friends as usual when my vocal teacher came to me and said, “Here is the sheet music of ‘Caro Mio Ben’ with lyrics, I’d like for you to look them over before the lesson tomorrow.” At that point, I could not understand what I was told. As I read it after school I was amazed that I had become capable of singing such a complicated song, despite the fact that it was not so long ago that I started learning. I was proud. I practiced on my own by learning the tune on the piano. The lyrics of Caro Mio Ben are written in Italian, a language which I never sang before. I would never forget how happy I was.
The lessons, however, required more efforts than I ever imagined, and I started to consider giving up singing. I struggled, not being able to memorize the lyrics or pronounce the words as I tried to go over what I have learned.
Then during the 3rd semester, the lyrics suddenly started coming into my head, and once again, the lessons became something to look forward to. I was happy to feel that all of the past practice is finally bearing fruit.
I graduated from the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired at Tsukuba University before I had no chance to perform this song during my junior high years.
I became acquainted with another teacher in high school. I launched a music club in hope to learn vocal music from this teacher.
In spite of having very little time to practice due to an operation on my eyes that summer, I was able to perform at the “Osaka Art and Cultural Festival for People with Disabilities” held in October. I worked hard on pronunciation and maintaining the shape of the mouth. This festival was the very first time for me to sing before my parents. I was told that they were in tears of amazement.
Then in November, I was invited to the final selection of the competition. Although my voice was tense at the festival from strain, I felt relaxed and enjoyed singing at the finals. I almost burst into tears to have many people come to see me including relatives whom I have not seen even in the New Year’s Days and Obon Festival, teachers from school and dormitory, and my parents’ friends. I will continue to take in as many advices as I can have so that I would be heard by many more people.
Why don’t you find something that you like, and try to excel in it? To me, it is “vocal music.” There were times when things got so hard that I wanted to quit. But I endured those times, and I now have a goal. That is “to participate in the Helen Keller Musical Competition.”
I could not participate in this competition during junior high school because I was occupied with my role as the director of choir club and volleyball club. I hope to have the younger students at Tsukuba heard me singing, too. I am going to do my best to attain that goal!!