Why play the guitar and jam with a band?

Like most of my friends, I learned how to play the guitar in an informal manner. My first guitar “teachers” were chord charts, music websites, YouTube artists, friends, and one of my female cousins.  It is a good hobby to take up – it helps connect with people, build relationships, an help someone be more in touch with his more creative side.

Music, particularly from OPM bands (Original Pinoy Music), was a significant part of my high school days. Although it was a time when the all-time famous Eraserheads already broke up, many bands started emerging (or re-emerging) – filling the airwaves. We watched Myx and tried to play songs from Hale, Mayonnaise, Sponge Cola, Bamboo, Sugarfree and Bamboo to name a few – sprinkled with Eheads, Rivermaya, and Parokya ni Edgar.  It was a good age to be if you’re a fan of the OPM brand of alternative rock.

Back then, I was contented to be able to play chords and strum along with the music I listen to. Jamming along the hallway or inside the classroom – that was a big piece of music embedded in my sweet teen years. I remember vividly the joy I felt when I was able to learn my first song – Rivermaya’s Kisapmata!  Down, down, up, up, down.  D – Em – A -G. Rinse, repeat.  “O kay bilis naman maglaho ng pag-ibig mo sinta!”  Lyrics and music apt for a teenage boy just discovering what it means to love.

As part of the student council organization in my high school, we were in charge of spearheading band festivals, concert parties, and competitions.  Since I was part of the organizers and I was a beginner guitarist back then, I never participated in one (Well, except one, in Baguio.  We won something in that competition, but let’s just say some things are better left unsaid! Haha!).

Fast forward to today, I am fortunate to have good opportunities to play music. With my girlfriend, Mika, we play cover instrumentals of songs.  One of our covers, Up Dharma Down’s Tadhana, fortunately was well-received. Although not as popular as other videos, we are proud to get 9000 views with 100 likes at YouTube!


Also, to satisfy our more “rock”-y cravings, I’m playing with a band mostly composed of my high school friends.  I’m excited that we are now doing sessions with a female vocalist who can sing some Paramore and female-voiced OPM songs.  Hopefully in the not-so-long future, we can post covers or compositions via Soundcloud or YouTube.

However, we must acknowledge that we still have ways to go – improving our musical senses, building chemistry and letting it show with the way we are synchronized during our rehearsals.

Little by little, I realize that what was once a hobby is now becoming a more vital chunk of my life.  Hence, like how I took basketball seriously during my high school years, I think it is only fitting that I honor music better by studying it in a more formal sense.

That’s why I enrolled under the Yamaha School of Music (or Yupangco Music Academy), which is fortunately near my house!  Upon recommendation of a well-respected jazz-musician friend and the teacher there (who, admirably, studied at the UST Conservatory of Music with jazz background), I took up Electric Guitar lessons versus the Classical Guitar course.  Although it costs quite a bit, I treat it as an investment.  Hopefully I can incorporate my learnings in covers of songs or compositions!

I had my first lesson yesterday, and I had a great time appreciating the theory behind my intuitive feel of music back then.  Getting to know chords and notes better, appreciating scales, and just grasping the beauty of music as an amalgamation of science and art, yet flexible enough to make it one’s personal burst of expression.

Playing music is fun – with every chord strummed or strings plucked, with lyrics written and sang, it provides a liberating experience that is similar or even greater than the itch to scratch one’s creative expression.  But now, instead of treating it as a hobby, I think I should pay closer attention to the process.

If I should choose one learning from Kobe Bryant, it is the appreciation of the process.  I want to apply this to learning music.

No shortcuts.

Impatience not for the reward, but impatience to constantly improve one’s self.

Working for a reward.

And should it be possible, even if just a microcosm, hopefully I can enjoy my music journey the same way Kobe enjoyed his last game.

The dribble and the beat of music synchronizing with heartbeats – feeling more alive.

The pass and assists or taking music rests to let others put imprint in the songs and life we experience.

The swish of the net or the sweet note played – savoring the indescribable eargasmic feeling it provides.

And finally, diving for the loose ball- amidst mistakes or playing wrong notes and chords, having the tenacity to recover and play the game of basketball and music, the way it’s supposed to be played.

The mind appreciating the intricacies and complexities.  The heart appreciating the elegance in simplicity and the emotions roaring to be released.  The soul eager to transcend worldly and heavenly existence, even for just a split second.

Picture courtesy of www.reverb.com – Epiphone ES-339 P90 Pro

To those living in Metro Manila, we are all familiar with the bumper-to-bumper carmageddon traffic that EDSA passers-by struggle to live with.  This was the inspiration behind a Filipino love song I wrote, entitled “Uwi” – describing my personal experiences as I drive my car to bring my girlfriend home (uwi can be loosely translated as going home).

Perhaps for lovers (at least in my perspective), a long way home aggravated by heavy traffic is not so bad after all, since it lengthens that always-split-second-moment that we are together with our respective special someone.  Even after hours of snail-paced traffic, we dare ask, “Father Time is unfair – he passes slowly when we are alone, but flies fast if we are with our beloved!”

Lyrics and chords below, in the beautiful Filipino language:

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Intro and Verse

Matulog ka muna
Mahaba-haba pa ang byahe, patapos na ang gabi
Iyo bang napupuna?
Kahit barado’ng trapik, may ngiti sa aking labi

Am7 – Bm7 –
C9 – D – D7

Eh pano ba naman
Ayaw nang mabitin pa
Kapag ang aking kanan
Hindi bakanteng silya


C9 – D – Em9 or G/B – G
F/C – C – F/C – D – D7

Madaya, madugas, nakakainis ang oras
Ang bagal kapag wala ka’t pag katabi na kita mabilis lumipas

Ayos lamang bang tayo’y magtagal
Pag-ibig ko sayo ay lalo ko pang ipaiiral

(In terms of music, I am very heavily influenced by sir Ebe Dancel’s work lately.  For this particular song, I think the most dominant flavors present are Sugarfree’s Telepono and Hangover.  Thank you very much to Sir Ebe for showing that OPM or original Filipino music can really pull the strings of the heart!)

Photo from http://preen.inquirer.net/files/2015/09/sept-8-carmaggedon-EDSA-heay-rain-rush-hour-traffic-preen-e1441795982162.jpg