When I was twenty-one, I was the happiest and proud young conductor in a ‘National Level Schools Music Competition,’ in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). It was the best time, that even as I write now, I feel the joy and the happiness I felt then.
That was at Manzini City. I had been selected to conduct a choir that I had won a competition with, at a District Level. My choir was at Manzini to represent the Shiselweni District.
This began with me getting a teaching post at one of the primary schools in the Shiselweni District. I had just qualified as a Primary School Teacher, a year before, in South Africa.
I was in Eswatini as an Asylum Seeker, and fortunately, I was also allowed to work while my case was being processed. That was a great blessing.
The subjects I liked teaching most were music and arithmetic. During one of our staff meetings, our Headmaster announced that all schools in the district were required to participate in a music competition. Junior choirs, Intermediate choirs and Senior choirs were expected to take part.
He then asked if there were any teachers prepared to train children for the competitions. The whole room went silent. I was very excited, but kept quiet. I waited to see what the teachers who had been in the school a lot longer than me were going to say.
The silence went on. The Headmaster asked again. There was still no answer. Then I put my hand up, as I couldn’t suppress my excitement any longer. I volunteered to train the Senior choir.
That was an age group of children I taught. I told them that I had never conducted a choir before, but I was confident that I was going to do it and succeed.
I further told them that during my primary school years as well as college years, in South Africa, I had been trained for music competitions, similar to what was then required, in my new school.
The formats that were used by the conductors in primary schools were the same as those used in colleges. Those experiences gave me confidence that I could easily do what was required, by the Headmaster.
The whole process was etched in my mind. And in fact, as I write here, I can see everything. This brings me a giggle. I was very confident and enthusiastic as I told them my brief experience of ‘a capella’ music. Everyone looked at me, surprised, at the same time with smiles on their faces.
Then a teacher said: “I would not mind conducting a choir, if Nomanono taught me how to, as well as teach my class, because I don’t know anything about teaching children to sing.”
Without hesitation I said, “Yes of course, I will teach you everything that you want to know!”
Immediately I said that, another teacher said, “In that case then, will you please teach me too, Nomanono, as well as my children?” Again, I said, “No problem!” I was very happy and excited. I could see the whole school bringing trophies back from the music competition!
The Headmaster at that point said: “Nomanono, are you absolutely sure that you can do this? There will be too much work for you! You still have to teach your class as usual. Then after school, this is when the training will be taking place. Surely, you cannot teach teachers to teach singing. You will be the one teaching those children to sing, I can assure you.”
He was of course so right! I hadn’t thought of that at all. Only the excitement and enthusiasm were driving me. Then I looked at the two teachers who had offered to conduct the Junior and Intermediate choirs, hoping that I would teach them. They were both looking down, disappointed.
I turned back to the Headmaster and said: “Sir, the three of us will work something out that will be for the benefit of all us, especially the children.” Immediately, both the teachers said enthusiastically, “Yes, we will and Thank You Nomanono!”
The Headmaster looked relieved and smiled. The journey then began. For me, the two teachers and the children. It was the most exciting time. I Felt Invincible!
I asked my Senior choir group to ask their families for permission to attend school an hour early in the mornings, and to stay late after school, for another hour’s music training.
Those two hours were a much needed bonus, that gave us valuable time to perfect the singing practices. The music competition would be in three months’ time. Fortunately, all the children were permitted by their families to attend the early sessions as well as after school sessions.
I thanked the heavens and jumped for joy! For the Junior and Intermediate choirs, we arranged for them to have practices during their Physical Education and Religious lessons. We extended the practices by fifteen minutes for the Junior choir and by thirty minutes for the Intermediate choir.
I wrote all the Tonic Solfa notes on huge sheets of paper. They were easily read by the children and the teachers. But first, I had to have sessions late after school, with both teachers. I explained the basics of conducting, and what the symbols on the music sheets meant.
I explained the structures and formats for singing, of the set music for the competition. I taught them how to use Tuning Forks. We had great Fun. They were eager to learn fast and succeed.
After that, I taught the children how to sing, in the presence of their respective teachers. Fortunately, my voice had a singing range that was beneficial to the choirs. I sang soprano, second soprano, alto, tenor, bass. This ability was a crucial requirement for me to possess.
By the end of three months of practising, the whole school was in very high spirits. We had arranged for sessions where the whole school, listened to the three choirs and watched the performances of the conductors.
We, the conductors, listened to the constructive criticisms and fine tuned our choirs. We were ready for the competition and everyone expected us to win.
It was such a happy time for the children, and the teachers. I taught the teachers how to conduct. I taught the children to sing.
My excitement and enthusiasm was elevating everyone involved in the singing practices, preparing for the final day of the competition.
On the competition day, we listened to many choirs from different schools. We were nervous of course. All three of us, the conductors, wanted our choirs to do very well. We wanted to win. It was a relief after each of our choirs performed in the way that we had prepared them.
Then came the moment of announcing the winners, at the end of the day. All choirs had performed brilliantly. They started with Junior choirs. The results were announced in reverse order. Third places, followed by second places and finally first places. Our Junior choir came first! That was very exciting!
Guess what? All three choirs, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, brought back trophies for first places!
To top it all, was the journey from our district to Manzini. The families who assisted the children with transportation to the big city, to sing their hearts out. Bless them, they did and brought back a fourth trophy to the school.
As for me, I was the youngest conductor, competing against people who were the same age as my Father, and had been conducting for years. Our choir came second.
When the name of our school was called as having come second, the whole audience, stood up and applauded. It was my first time of experiencing a Standing Ovation.
I have learned over the years that when I recall moments, in the past, that made me happy, I am actually happy in the NOW. Here on the Earth Plane, our time is an illusion.
Everything in the Quantum Field, Heaven, Spirit, Vortex, God, Allah, Existence, Void, The Field, whatever we call it, doesn’t have yesterday, today, tomorrow.
Everything is in the NOW. This makes perfect sense to me because, as I’m recalling the time that I was very happy, teaching singing, I feel the same feelings Now!
There are no old memories, in my view. All are in the NOW. If your memory is a very good one, please Milk It, because when you do, you are raising your vibrations. This is very important during this time of the pandemic, and Lock-down.
I have chosen to write about this story, because it never fails to raise my vibrations. It makes me feel that I am capable of doing and achieving the best results for whatever I choose to do. It brings me Joy, Happiness, Satisfaction and Fulfilment.
Thank you for taking time to read these words. Stay Blessed.